Grow Your Own NamekoNorth Spore
Nameko mushroom kits, though reliable, may take extra attention and time to produce mushrooms. They prefer cooler temperatures and need a constant humidity. Using a humidity tent will help mitigate humidity issues as long as there are enough holes in it for proper gas exchange.
Cooking: Nameko is a lesser known culinary mushroom in the Americas, but it is used widely in East Asia. It has a gelatinous cap that can thicken soups and sauces and an aroma that walks the line of being both fruity and earthy. Nameko mushrooms go well with dark green vegetables, red meats, and shallots, and are used traditionally in Japanese miso soups.
Properties: Mushrooms in the Pholiota genus have medicinal qualities that inhibit tumor and microbial growth. In one study conducted on lab mice, polysaccharides taken from Pholiota mycelium reduced the growth of cancerous tumors by about 60% (Ohtsuka et al., 1973). Acting as an antimicrobial, an extract of Pholiota was shown to inhibit the growth of bacteria including E. coli and Staphylococcus aureus (Dulger et al., 2004).
1) Your Nameko mushroom grow kit is an amended sawdust block that has been completely colonized by Nameko mushroom mycelium. Take the block and place it on its side, exposing a side where the block presses right up against the plastic bag. Take a sharp knife and slice a 5-6 inch slice along the bag, followed by a 3 inch slice on each side of the first cut, making a large ‘H’ shape cut in the bag, Try to slice the bag with as little damage done as possible to the block. Gently squeeze out any air left in the bag, take the loose flap without mushroom substrate in it, and fold it underneath the kit. The Nameko mushroom mycelium will sense the oxygen in the air and produce mushroom ‘pins’, another word for ‘baby mushrooms’. This should begin to happen within three weeks of slicing your bag. Nameko likes cooler temperatures within the 55-65F degree range.
2) Nameko loves lots of humidity and moisture but also needs ventilation to grow to full size. Place your sliced bag in the most humid part of your home and outside of direct sunlight. We suggest putting your bag on a kitchen counter somewhat close to a sink. If your home is really dry, you may want to make a humidity tent to place over your bag. Simply take a trash bag or other loosely fitting plastic bag and put PLENTY of 1/2 inch holes in it (THIS IS IMPORTANT: Mushrooms exhale CO2 and inhale oxygen. They will suffocate themselves if there isn’t adequate airflow! Nameko that look stringy or strange are usually growing that way because they need more air!). Spray the outside of your block near the slice at least once per day. If you choose to use a humidity tent make sure to spray the inside of the tent once per day to maintain humidity. With Nameko, the more humid and well-maintained the moisture, the better.
3) Harvest your mushrooms when they resemble the photograph on the front of your kit! Harvest before the caps flatten out and become concave. Mushrooms grow quickly, so when you spot your first mushroom pins keep a close eye on them. The warmer the environment the faster they will grow. Mushrooms should be ready to harvest 5-10 days after pin formation. Nameko creates a gelatinous surface on its caps; this is normal and one of the features that makes Nameko unique!
4) Nameko is a reliable first harvest producer. Second harvests are difficult though not impossible. Harvests usually diminish in size with each consecutive fruiting. We recommend giving your block a one week break between fruitings, leaving it alone without watering. Soak your block in cold water for 20 minutes, and then re-start the process of spraying your blocks with water daily!
*CAUTIONS AND CONSIDERATIONS:
IF YOU PLAN ON CONSUMING YOUR HOME-GROWN MUSHROOMS MAKE SURE TO COOK THEM THOROUGHLY. IF IT IS YOUR FIRST TIME EATING THIS SPECIES, IT IS BEST TO START WITH A SMALL AMOUNT TO SEE HOW YOUR BODY RESPONDS!
MUSHROOMS PRODUCE SPORES AS THEY DEVELOP. THIS IS A NATURAL MEANS OF REPRODUCTION FOR THE FUNGUS. THEY USUALLY APPEAR AS A DUSTY SURFACE ON YOUR GROW KIT BENEATH THE MUSHROOM CAPS. PEOPLE WITH ALLERGIES OR COMPROMISED IMMUNE SYSTEMS MAY WANT TO CONSIDER PUTTING FRUITING MUSHROOM KITS OUTDOORS OR IN A WELL-VENTILATED AREA AS AIRBORNE SPORES SOMETIMES CAUSE RESPIRATORY IRRITATION. SPORES MAY ALSO CAUSE IRRITATION FOR SOME NON-ALLERGIC OR IMMUNE COMPROMISED MUSHROOM GROWERS, THOUGH THIS IS RARE. HARVESTING MUSHROOMS WHILE STILL IN THEIR YOUNGER GROWTH STAGES WILL REDUCE THE OVERALL SPORE LOAD.