Grow Your Own ShiitakeNorth Spore
Difficulty: Beginner / Intermediate
Shiitake Mushroom kits are one of the easiest of all of our Grow Your Own kits. They are very reliable producers as long as the ambient humidity in their growing environment remains consistent. Because the block is removed entirely from the bag, they are prone to drying out. Using a humidity tent will help mitigate this issue as long as there are enough holes in it for proper gas exchange.
Shiitake mushrooms are widely used in East Asia and lend themselves to the aromatic and bold flavors of Chinese and Japanese cuisine. Try pairing them with soy sauce, mirin (sweet rice cooking wine), ginger, and garlic. We love to marinate shiitake with these ingredients then skewer them for the grill. Serve them with sticky white rice hit with a dash of rice vinegar. Dehydrated shiitake possesses an almost ethereal savory aroma that can be used to booster soup stock with powerful umami.
In addition to acting as a general immune system booster, Shiitake can be used as a tonic to promote overall liver and kidney health (Marley, 2009). Shiitake also contains high concentrations of the substance eritadenine, which may be beneficial in reducing blood cholesterol levels (Enman et al., 2007). Beyond helping relieve an ailment, Shiitake has nutritional value due to its ability to absorb Vitamin D. Drying Shiitake in the sunlight will increase Vitamin D levels by more than a hundred times compared to Shiitake dried in the dark (Stamets, 2005).
1) Your shiitake mushroom grow kit is an amended sawdust block that has been completely colonized by shiitake mushroom mycelium. Take the block and put in the refrigerator overnight. Remove from fridge and entirely remove and discard the plastic bag covering the block, exposing the raw block of colonized sawdust.
2) Soak your block in cold water for 10 minutes
3) Mushrooms need proper humidity and ventilation to survive. Place your block on a plate in the most humid part of your home and outside of direct sunlight. We suggest putting your block on a kitchen counter somewhat close to a sink. In the winter months, and if your home is really dry you may want to make a humidity tent to place over your block. Simply take a trash bag or other loosley fitting plastic bag, 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! Shiitakesthat look strange or have unusually fat stems are usually growing that way because they need more air!) Spray the outside of your block least once per day until the mushroom block forms baby mushrooms (called ‘pins’). If you choose to use a humidity tent make sure to spray the inside of the tent once per day to maintain humidity.
4) Harvest your mushrooms when they resemble the photograph on the front of your kit! Harvest before the caps flatten out and become soft or soggy. 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 4-10 days after pin formation.
5) We guarantee the first harvest of shiitake mushrooms, but you may choose to attempt a second, third, or even fourth fruiting off your block! Harvests usually diminish in size with each consecutive fruiting. We recommend giving your block a two week break between fruitings, then soak your block in cold water for 20 minutes, and then re-start the process of spraying your blocks with water daily!
*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!*