Mushroom kits are a fun and easy way to grow lots of tasty mushrooms. Someone else has done the hard work of preparing the spawn and growing out the mycelium for you. All you need to give them is water, fresh air, and a little love.
In order to write this review, I bought the Fungi Perfecti Shiitake Mushroom Kit from Amazon.com. I was very pleased with their good prices and the fact that my kit produced many shiitake mushrooms. I should amend that to produces, because it's still going strong as of this writing! (Update years later: as to be expected, it eventually petered out).
The rest of this article is a review of the specific type of kit that I purchased. Hop on over to this article for more information on mushroom growing kits in general.
Or check out the mushroom growing kits on Amazon. They have a good selection and fair prices.
My kit arrived wrapped in a plastic incubation bag with a filter patch so the mycelium could breathe. I eagerly tore into it to find my prize, an unassuming block of sterilized sawdust and mycelium.
Not the most attractive kitchen ornament in the world, but at least it makes a good conversation piece.
Not all mushroom kits come in the form of sawdust blocks. Some are simply mushroom spawn that needs to be "planted" in another material in order to grow mushrooms. Others are a bag of mycelium and pasteurized straw. I'm rather fond of the sawdust blocks as they're easy to take care of and just plain look cool.
My kit came with instructions on growing shiitake mushrooms that were easy to follow. The instructions even included a helpful troubleshooting section in case you have a problem.
Here's what I did:
I covered the kit with the tent and misted it with water a few times a day. Mushrooms appeared in less than a week.
As we all know, one flush is never enough! Fortunately these mushroom kits continue to produce every few weeks for up to 6 months. Mine is currently in the second month and still going.
After a crop, the kit needs time to dry out and store nutrients for the next flush. I took off the humidity tent and didn't do anything with it for 2 weeks, forgetting it as though it were one of my poor houseplants.
After the kit rests it's simply a matter of repeating the process over again, with refrigeration being optional. I soaked it overnight in water, set up the humidity tent, and resumed the misting cycle.
Mushrooms appeared within two weeks. As you can see, the kit takes on a browner, leathery appearance as it gets older. This is normal and harmless so don't be alarmed.
That's it. You can continue this process for months until the kit has shrank, darkened, and stopped producing mushrooms. After that you can put it outside somewhere in a compost pile.
Overall I've been very happy with my purchase of this Shiitake Mushroom Kit . It was an easy, fun, and delicious project. Mushroom kits make great gifts for both those just learning how to grow mushrooms and the advanced cultivator alike.
So what did I do with my bounty from my mushroom kits? Made a shiitake mushroom recipe, of course!
Here are two of my favorite easy mushroom recipes for shiitake mushrooms:
Warm the sesame oil over medium heat in a large skillet.
Add the wine, soy sauce, and mushrooms and sauté until the mushrooms are tender, about 5 minutes.
Note: It's better to sauté mushrooms in smaller batches rather than all at once. Too much water released by too many mushrooms cooking can dilute the flavor. See this page on how to sauté mushrooms for more information.
If you need to, keep adding wine and soy sauce as you sauté in batches. Serve them hot over rice, with vegetables, or on a meat dish. They're even better when you've grown them yourself!
I love this recipe so much that I sometimes have it for dinner. Feel free to make your own adjustments and add more mushrooms, vegetables, spices, etc.
Warm the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. As it's warming, beat the eggs thoroughly in a separate bowl.
Add the eggs to the skillet and scramble 'em up good! Keep stirring and flipping the pieces around until they're no longer runny but not browned either.
Add the mushrooms and green onions. Stir frequently and cook until the mushrooms are tender, about 5 minutes.
At this point I like to add the shredded cheese. It will sizzle in the pan, so stir it around until it melts.
Remove from heat and serve with salsa and toast. If you want, you can make an omelette with the ingredients rather than scramble the eggs.
I hope you've enjoyed this article on mushroom kits. They're a great way to produce your own food, learn how to grow mushrooms, and just have a fun project.