Monday, November 7, 2011

A fungus among us

Have you ever ordered anything on a whim?  Was it a box of magical dirt? I didn't think so, but I'd love to hear what impulsive catalog buys are lurking in your past. While looking through an awesome seed catalog at I saw this kids' science lesson/husband gift/entertainment-in-a-box and knew I had to order one. 3/4ths of my family shudder at the thought of eating mushrooms and I still think this is really cool.

Basically, the mushroom farm mails you a box of dirt inoculated with a specific mushroom mycelium (many varieties are available) and you just keep it cool, moist, out of direct sunlight, and voila, fungus grows! Edible fungus right in your own garage, not to be confused with that stuff in the gym shoes. This photo is the second crop and yielded about 1 pound. The first crop disappeared early one morning in an assault of butter and onions before I could document it for posterity. The kids and I had to air out the house for a little while, but we knew exactly where the clothespins are kept for such occasions.

Since the mushroom-ivore of the household couldn't keep up with production, I decided to dehydrate this batch. This photo shows a mushroom that is mature. The veil of the cap has torn open revealing the gills, though button mushrooms are usually seen with closed caps. Don't ask me if it makes a difference in taste. I will never know.

I found an endearing video with step by step instructions on how to dehydrate mushrooms- not that there is anything complicated about it. This guy just cracks me up.  

So I dried the shrooms for quite a while because it was raining and I don't think my dehydrator is very powerful. It may be an antique. I think they turned out okay. I may make a soup or something out of them. I guess you could put them in a red sauce for pasta or something if you liked that kind of thing. Oh, one suggestion I read said if slightly rehydrated they were good on pizza. Whatever. I hope the 25% of my household who actually puts these things in his mouth willingly just snacks on them like the video guy. No smell, no clothespins.

Did I mention the magic box purports to give me about 4 pounds of these things? Check out for more varieties. The blue oyster ones look really intriguing...

October 2011 Harvest Tally:
16 lbs. of fresh fruits and veggies
48 eggs

Year to date:
467 lbs. of fresh fruits and veggies
372 eggs

We live on a 1/10th acre lot and rent a 20x20 foot community garden plot.

Have you ever grown mushrooms? On purpose I mean.

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