Grow your own mushrooms at home!

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So this doesn't really count as a DIY project, since it was pretty much all set up for me, but I figured it was DIY enough!

I've recently had an itch to go mushroom hunting, I'm not sure why. My friends and family think it's a little too kooky and even more risky, since a lot of mushrooms that resemble our familiar edible varieties are actually different poisonous fungi and can produce hallucinogenic effects. I see their point, but I'm still convinced that a guided day trip, under the protection and knowledge of an expert, would be perfectly safe. 

Well, I haven't found a good mushroom hunting trip yet, BUT, the other week, I was browsing Groupon (one of my many pastimes) and found a coupon for a mushroom farm! You might be thinking, as I was when I first read about it, What on earth is a mushroom farm?

It's exactly what you think! Basically, a mushroom farm is a big brown block of organic matter and the mushroom spawn, from which mushrooms can sprout.  This company, Far West Fungi, which has a storefront in the San Francisco Ferry Building, sells these mini mushroom farms, which typically produce 2-3 harvests and 1.5 lbs of mushrooms. 

So, for $25, I bought two mushroom farms (usually $25 each): shiitake and tree oyster. I'm just going to share the progress of my shiitake farm, since the tree oyster one is not looking as photogenic right now.

They came in these convenient carrier boxes, which kind of looked like a 6-pack of beer. 
(Michael and I went to dinner right after I bought these. When asked what they were, we responded "mushrooms!" and were met with very confused blank stares.)

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Inside the box comes the mushroom farm, a set of instructions, and extra plastic bags. The plastic bags help maintain proper humidity and temperature to ensure a mushroom-growth-conducive environment!

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For the shiitake mushrooms, they instruct you to cut little X slits (about 1" across) all over the bag, so it doesn't get too moist or stuffy inside. Here's what my block looked like out of the box.

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You then close the top of the bag with the little wire tie that came with it, so that the block can get nice and toasty (but can still breathe with those x's you cut).

Then, I just put my mushroom bag/block near a window with lots of indirect sunlight, and let it do it's thang.

The instructions said that after 3-4 days, when you see signs of mushroom growth, you should remove the tie and open the top of the bag about 3-4 inches for some more circulation. You can see condensation inside the bag, and if it gets too wet, the block can get moldy.

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Once the mushrooms' white meshy layer detaches from the stem, they're at their peak flavor and ready to pick.

I actually had a really busy week at work, and forgot to check my mushrooms after I opened the top of the bag, so some of my mushrooms actually ended up being quite large by the time I actually opened the bag to harvest them!

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I was really pleased with my first harvest. There were SO many mushrooms and the thought that I had grown them in my living room made me ecstatic.

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I couldn't wait to eat them. I decided to just cut them all and cook them in a little olive oil on the stovetop, so I could taste as much of the mushroom flavor as possible.

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It came out EXCELLENT. I ate all these mushrooms in an entire day. Alone. And now I am waiting for my next harvest!

This is SUCH a fun little project, for kids or anyone who enjoys cultivating their own food. I might continue buying these as my default mushroom source, after my current block exhausts its production!