Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Growing Medicinal Mushrooms

One of the new projects that I am taking on this year is growing mushrooms- mostly medicinal for Boline, my online botanica and apothecary. Unlike western herbalism, with which I am familiar and know the plants and how to grow them, mushrooms are their own strange little adventure!

I have several types of mushrooms growing in my home: reishi, shiitake, maitake, turkey tail, and oyster. The oyster is for me for food. All but the oyster varieties are growing on sterilized, organic, hardwood sawdust (the oyster is growing on my used organic coffee grounds (reuse! reduce! recycle!)).

Mushroom life cycle.
I have been tending them multiple times a day (they need watering two-three times daily) as well as in bursts (when it is time to innoculate the sawdust or harvest) and I am just starting to see the fruits (literally!) of my labor.

The shiitakes are fruiting like crazy and the oyster has started to pin as well. The maitake is in the pre-fruiting stage, also known as the pinhead and priordium stages. My turkey tails and reishi are slowly spreading their mycelium throughout the substrate and have created hyphal knots (the stage before becoming priordium).

Take a look at my mushrooms!

Shiitake mushrooms fruiting.

A close up of the Shiitakes.

Aren't they adorable?

Harvested Shiitakes. I will now dry them.

This is oyster and shiitake spores in liquid. Once they form mycelium strands,
they will be used to innoculate sterilized organic hardwood sawdust or rye grain.

The shiitakes under their humidity tent.

Look at all that mycelium! (This is a bag of oyster innoculated sawdust for a friend.)

The Maitake under its tent. See the big bumps? Those are GOOD.

Harvested shiitakes in my dryer.

Here, they will dry out and then be used in medicine making: either dried tea or a tincture.

These are my oysters in coffee grounds. Look closely- do you see the pinhead?

There it is!

About Shiitakes
Why grow Shiitake mushrooms in particular? Most people in the US only know them as a tasty mushroom found in Japanese food and do not understand its myriad medicinal properties. "Modern research has indicated shiitake mushroom may stimulate the immune system, possess antibacterial properties, reduce platelet aggregation, and possess antiviral properties, possibly through antiviral agents known as proteinase inhibitors. ... It also possesses lentinan, which is a compound isolated from shiitake, is used as an intravenous anticancer agent in some countries. Studies have demonstrated lentinan possesses antitumor properties, and clinical studies have associated lentinan with a higher survival rate, higher quality of life, and lower recurrence of cancer."*

As an herbalist, I believe that the whole plant is better for you and contains more healing properties than isolates. So I would rather use the whole dried mushroom in a tea or create a tincture form the whole fruit for remedies. I will be selling this through Boline.

Stay tuned for more interesting information on the other mushrooms that I am raising as well as their properties.


1 comment:

  1. Nice info on Shiitake mushrooms. To add a piece of information, the Chinese and the Japanese have been using them as medicine for thousands of years. You’re also correct about using the whole mushroom. The medicinal properties of the mushroom are distributed throughout the entire mushroom. Turning the stems into tea or tincture is definitely a good idea.


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