Growing edible mushrooms at home gives you the advantage of having a mushroom supply all year round. Ranging in taste from sweet to nutty, mushrooms are versatile ingredients that bring a delicious umami flavor to dishes. They are usually added to soups, pasta, salads and other savory dishes or dried as a snack.
Though they are technically a type of fungi, mushrooms have a plant-like form and are as nutritious as many fruits and vegetables. There are many types of mushrooms, some of which are edible, like oysters, lion mane, porcini, button and shiitake mushrooms. Some, however, are poisonous.
Growing edible mushrooms in your basement
Edible mushrooms are grown from tiny spores that rely on substances like sawdust, grain, straw or wood chips for nourishment. Dealers typically mix these spores with sterilized water and nutrient solution containing ingredients like sugar and raw honey. This mixture is called a “spawn” and is usually packaged inside a syringe.
The spawn can grow into a mushroom by itself, but it thrives better when applied to a growing medium. Growers typically use grains like millet and rye to boost the fungi’s growth. These “grain spawns” are rich in nitrogen needed by mushrooms. (Related: Prepper medicine: The golden chanterelle mushroom hastens wound healing.)
Using Mason jars to grow edible mushrooms
One method of growing mushrooms is to use enclosed containers like Mason jars. This better replicates the moist, cool conditions necessary for the fungi’s growth. For this method, you’ll need the following items:
- Spawn (in a syringe)
- Spawn grain
- 1-liter Mason jars, 5 for each syringe
- Plastic bags, 1 for each jar
- Straw mulch, chopped
Here’s how to grow edible mushroom in your basement: (h/t to AskAPrepper.com)
- Add grain spawn to a separate bucket.
- Soak the millet in water. Pour boiling water and cover the bucket. Let the grain spawn soak for a day and then drain the millet. Fill the jars two-thirds to three-fourths full with the soaked millet.
- Drill three holes into the lid. Cover one hole with a rubber stopper so you can inject the spawn without opening the lid later on. Cover two holes with medical tape, then wrap the top of the lid with tin foil.
- Put the jars in a pressure cooker for an hour to kill any bacteria inside. Then let it cool in the pressure cooker.
- Heat the needle on your spore syringe until it becomes red and allow it to cool. This kills all of the germs.
- Inject up to 2 millimeters of the solution into one jar via the rubber port.
- Store it in a dark, warm spot in your basement for 2 to 3 weeks. Do not open the lid during this time.
- Check for mycelium — the white, thread-like body of budding mushrooms. When the jars become full of mycelium, prepare to transfer their content to the plastic bags.
- Take some chopped straw mulch and soak it in lime water with hydrated lime for a day. The lime will drastically increase the pH of the water and kill bacteria and other contaminants.
- Drain the straw and mix with the mushroom spawns in a plastic bag. Store the bags in a dark, warm, well-ventilated area for 2 to 3 weeks.
- Check for mycelium. When you see mycelial growth, cut small holes 2 to 3 inches apart. Hang your bags in a humid greenhouse. Your bags are ready to fruit and no longer need to be kept warm.
- It usually takes 3 to 4 days for mushrooms to grow. When the edges of the caps begin to turn upward, you can begin harvesting them.
Mushrooms are delicious and nutritious foods that can be used for a wide variety of dishes. Start growing edible mushrooms at home to secure a year-round food supply.