Look at these bad boys!!
My darling brother bought me the best present ever. A grow-your-own, pink oyster mushroom kit. For a few years now I have been experiencing the joy of collecting wild mushrooms, much of which is documented on this blog, but growing has not been a part of that hobby. It is now!
The kit comes with a bag filled with hay and comprehensive instructions. When you are ready to start, you send off for the spores, ensuring they are at maximum viability. Once you receive the spores, you prepare the bag and distribute the spores within it, then you pack it all back up in the box and leave it for three weeks for the mycelium to grow. There was mycelium growing in my bedroom!!
Once the three weeks is (finally!!) up, you open the box, stand up the bag and mist it a couple of times a day until you are ready to harvest. My mushrooms were practically jumping out of the box! Within a day there were many, many 'pins' (baby mushrooms) poking out of the growing holes. Within three days they were fully grown mushrooms. I practically watched them grow (although that may be because I didn't have much on that week)!
As someone who truly loves mushrooms, it was unbridled joy to monitor, tend and harvest them. You were supposed to harvest them before they started spraying their spores everywhere, but I couldn't resist letting them go to full maturity. I could literally see clouds of spores billowing out of the box. What fun!
I have just harvested my first 'flush' (see, I've got all the mushroom-growing lingo down) and apparently there are four or even five flushes to go! Fantastic.
I have so far made two lovely pink-tinged dinners with them, and I've still got loads left. Hopefully the next flush will cool its heels a bit, so I can make my way through the first lot.
This kit offers you not only the possibility of adding stunningly beautiful, unusual ingredients to your dishes, it provides the daily delight of seeing mushrooms develop through their life cycle. I cannot recommend it highly enough.
There are all kinds of different mushrooms available, but I ask you, what could really be better than pink oysters?
If you would like to see these mushrooms in action on the dinner table, check out my Miso Umami Broth with Buckwheat Noodles, Pak Choy & Pink Oyster Mushrooms or a particularly lovely recipe for Buckwheat-brown Rice Tempura of Pink Oyster Mushrooms (whole grain!).