You can thank the great state of Oregon for thrusting fungi back into the spotlight when the Beaver State legalized psilocybin – aka magic mushrooms – back in 2020. Since then, the U.S. has found itself in the midst of a mushroom renaissance, exciting and delighting the culinary – and psychedelic – sides of the mushroom world all at once. Until legality reaches all 50 states, we'll have to forget about mushrooms like the liberty cap, which can cause nausea, hallucinations and introspective experiences, and embrace more delicious varieties of edible fungi you can grow at home. For amateur mycologists and fungi fanatics alike, here are some tips on how to cultivate, prepare and eat your own edible mushrooms from the comfort of home.
Growing Your Own
You've probably heard the expression "mushroomed out" or "to mushroom before your eyes." The Free Dictionary defines the word "mushroomed" as "to multiply, grow, or expand rapidly." Definitely not a coincidence, but rather an English idiom based on the assumption that all mushrooms grow with rapid speed. Untrue. In reality, most mushrooms take a bit of time to go from spore to primordial mushroom fruit body.
The second thing you should know about growing mushrooms is how easy it is to propagate your own. Mushrooms flourish in dark, humid, cool environments, which is why you might see some pop up in the corner of your basement from time to time. While mushrooms can tolerate some light and heat, the ideal growing temperature is between 63 and 68 degrees Fahrenheit (17 and 20 degrees Celsius). Next, you gotta get yourself a mushroom kit from a company like North Spore.
The brainchild of three college buddies with an admiration for all things related to the mycological world, North Spore began as a love for mushroom foraging and cultivating and grew into an obsession with all things fungi. Nate Prime, affiliate marketer and content creator, is just one of the many people at North Spore who believe in spreading spores to the masses. Lion's mane, blue oysters, pink oysters, and golden oysters are some of the mushrooms included in North Spore's Indoor Spray and Grow Kit.
"There are really only a few steps," says Prime. "Cut open the box, slice an X in the bag underneath and spray with the included spray bottle a few times per day." North Spore's grow kits keep it ridiculously simple by sending an amended sawdust block fully colonized with edible mushroom spawn. Since mushrooms thrive in humidity and a small amount of natural light, Prime suggests keeping your kit on the kitchen counter to mimic the conditions of mushrooms' natural habitat.
Common, Easy-to-grow Species
When it comes to run-of-the-mill mushrooms, the most common species are shiitake, lion's mane, wood ear and oyster mushrooms, to name a few.
"There are a few mushrooms that are almost impossible to grow," says Justin Matoesian, co-founder of TerraVita, a company that combines potent, plant-based ingredients with CBD to create a collection of wellness products and adaptogens. "These mushrooms include chanterelle, porcini, boletus rubriceps and the Aspen bolete. They grow on dying matter and are very popular amongst mushroom foragers in the wild.
"Of the functional mushroom class, reishi and lion's mane are some of the easiest to grow at home and indoors. Both reishi and lion's mane colonize quickly and can grow in high CO2 environments and both can be grown on sawdust blocks." Matoesian goes on to say that anyone can go online to buy spores or spawn (a spawn is a collection of spores) which can then be added to a sawdust block and sprayed twice daily with water to cultivate.
"Climate is very important for growing mushrooms," says Matt Feldman, founder/CEO of Moku Foods, a company that specializes in plant-based jerky made from mushrooms. "Make sure to understand the climate requirements for whichever mushrooms you choose to grow at home. Also, don't give up if the first try doesn't go as planned! It takes a little time to get it down."
'Shrooms Pack a Healthy Punch
One cup of raw wood ear mushrooms contains approximately 25 calories and is packed with copper, pantothenic acid, selenium and riboflavin.
Mushrooms can be harvested around three times before the spawn becomes too exhausted to produce a new crop. Until then, they taste delicious when sauteed with a little bit of olive oil, garlic and thyme. While the concept of growing your own vegetables at home may seem daunting, keep in mind that mushrooms may be one of the easiest things to grow indoors.
"You should never give up," adds Prime. "Mushrooms are resilient and powerful organisms and we have so much to learn from them! Even if you don't get it quite right the first time and need to troubleshoot – we've all been there and it's all part of the learning process."