October 27, 2010

Growing Mushrooms at Home - Growing Mushrooms on a Log

At one time pine mushrooms sold for $200 a pound here. This year they went for $2 a pound.

I have been thinking about the sustainability of mushrooms as a food source and have decided to cultivate the ones that don't grow here.

Maitake, blue oyster, yellow oyster, reishi and shitake mushrooms can be grown on hardwood logs in a shady, moist spot. Each one has slightly different needs and growing season, click on the name for links to instructions.
Maitake can form a 100 pound mushroom cluster, but it takes a couple of years to make any at all. The oysters are so prolific you can grow them in coffee grounds.
My husband cut me some fresh hardwood logs and I drilled holes in them for the spawn plugs. I cut up a pop bottle and used it to label the logs. As the spawn develops, it spreads the unseen mycelium through the log, saturating it until it produces mushrooms which spread spores to a new log to repeat the process. This makes them everbearing like perennial plants.

The general instructions for growing mushrooms on logs can be found here.

Another woman who is trying this, who also has an awesome food blog is agwh at
Grow Your Own , stop by for a visit she has an excellent blog.

Wild Mushrooms - Growing Mushrooms - Free Food

Free Food - well that conjures up a giggle for sure! All food is free until you liberate it.

It is the end of mushroom season here. Mushroom picking is so fun I am sorry to see it end. There is nothing sweeter than traipsing through the forest, over trunks and under brush, lured by the glimpse of fungi on the horizon. What a work out, what a thrill, and that is even before the eating starts.

The mushroom is not a plant, but rather the fruit of a "plant" that grows under ground all year long. Underground it can be huge. When you disturb soil in the forest you will see there are white strings all through it. This is the what the "plant" really looks like and can be miles large and hundreds of years old. As you can imagine there many of varieties of mushrooms, but strangely the same mushrooms grow on different continents. For example a maitake mushroom here is identical to one in Romania.

Both these uglies are supposed to be edible, but not choice. Would you eat them?

Mushrooms bring rare amino acids and valueable immune building protein to the diet. If we were to gorge on the foods available where we live, when they are available I am sure we would ward off seasonal viruses. Mushrooms are an excellent case in point, used in this way by Asian cultures for centuries. Nutritional information found here

This is a boletes, supposed to be excellent eating. I have lots of them and I pick a could every year, but as of yet haven't got the guts to try it.

These are pine mushrooms which were plentiful this year. I grate them fine so they can be slipped into dishes unnoticed by picky eaters, then off to the freezer.

I am new at mushroom picking and learn from others on the net. An excellent blog to follow for mushrooms is Fat of the Land. To learn about mushrooms

October 19, 2010

Frugal Fast Easy Way to Preserve Vegetables

This time of year most vegetables are at their best price. This is because they are ripe where you live and they don't have to be transported so far. It is the best time to purchase them in surplus and preserve them for the winter too.

You bring vegetables home and put them in the fridge with the best of intentions. . Maybe you are an inexperienced cook and fear of failure took over the best laid plans. Maybe your schedules changed and you just couldn't fix them in time. But they rot before you can use them. They really are only viable fresh for a few days after purchase. so knowing in advance how to preserve for another time can be very prudent.

Tips for storing vegetables:

Store squash, potatoes, onions, and garlic in a cool dry spot in the kitchen. Baskets or cardboard boxes are perfect for this. Don't Store them together in the same container. Anything that is not in perfect condition will not keep long and should be used right away. Otherwise these vegetables can keep up to a few months.

Celery, beets, chard, herbs, broccoli, cabbage, carrots and turnip must be stored in the refrigerator to preserve freshness.

1. remove them from the plastic bags, even the potatoes, as soon as possible
2. cut off tops from beets and carrots (otherwise they will become soft)
2. don't wash them, shake off any excess water (clean them before use)
3. line the fridge crisper drawer with newspaper or paper towel
4. store them in fridge for 3 or 4 days

To preserve them for the winter, cut them into small bits and freeze in freezer bags.

Using a food processor makes this chore very easy. Simply chop them, lay the pieces on cookie sheets, freeze, when frozen break into pieces and put in freezer bags, freeze. I have cabbage, beets, turnips, onions, summer squash, chard, kale, endive, carrots, ginger and mushrooms.

Tip: Push food in the corners of bags to keep air pockets out. Squeeze as much air as possible out of the bag, this makes for a nicer finished product.

I add them to soup, stirfries, or just in a pan with some butter (I love turnips and greens this way). It is like having the prep work done so meals can be made in a hurry. A little chicken stock (which you make by boiling a chicken in a big pot and freezing the liquid) and a few handfuls of these veggies and beans or rice or pasta make a soup in less than 20 minutes.

October 10, 2010

Growing Ginger Indoors

This grass looking plant is a ginger root growing 15 months in a low light window.

You can see the little buds of ginger ready to be harvested.

The large piece is what was initially planted. I replanted it.

The ginger tasted fabulous. This year I am growing 10x the amount in a very sunny window, I want lots of this homegrown ginger.

Also posted about ginger on this blog: