Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Cardboard to food in a few easy steps.

So here is a guide to definitely the coolest way yet I've produced food. How did this start? Well a while back I picked up a golden oyster mushroom kit on sale after christmas. That was after some cat-inspired setbacks a great success.

After doing a bit more reading I decided to try and make my own kit and cook up some oyster mushrooms on cardboard. Rather than trying to produce my own spawn first up, I decided to start by trying to grow my own mushrooms using someone else's spawn to see if the methodology would work. So I got some spawn from a guy on ebay choosing the blue oyster strain as a) it's supposedly the most aggressive and b) don't fear the reaper.

I ripped some plain brown cardboard from old boxes into strips and boiled it for a couple of hours before draining it. I then layered it (like a lasagne) into some foil roasting trays (which I'd also boiled) with the grain spawn. I then wrapped in clingfilm, pierced some holes and left alone. It was soon possible to see the mycellium ripping into the cardboard....

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After 3 weeks the tray tops were covered with a thick white mycellium and smelling "mushroomy". After 3 weeks 1 day this happened.

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Note the white mycelium underneath the clingfilm.

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Fruit bodies popping their way up through the clingfilm! A day later....

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and a day later still.....
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Shortly after that they started to show signs of ageing so I harvested.
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I may have left them a little long but they were delicious (and certainly not at all like cardboard). Oyster mushrooms are also supposedly excellent sources of the cholesterol reducing compound lovastatin.

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About 3 weeks later I got a second flush
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So this really was a simple and delicious project. It was perhaps smaller scale than ideal and I guess the issue for the home mushroom grower is one of scale; producing lots of mushrooms at once is probably not much harder than producing a few at once. Producing a nice staggered harvest for regular consumption is probably tougher. Oysters won't just grow on cardboard but also tree stumps, woodchips, sawdust, straw and coffee grounds and you can also get an array of other strains besides the blue and yellow ones I've grown. I'd definitely recommend giving them a go.

3 comments:

Floridacracker said...

Those are beautiful ...for a fungus.
Good job!

Patricia Lichen said...

Great photos & such an interesting idea...makes me sorry that I don't like to eat 'shrooms... Still, I'd have been willing to give these a try, just for the cardboard-substrate novelty.

tai haku said...

Thanks both.

Patricia oysters taste quite different to most shrooms so it might be worth trying them, you may find them quite nice compared to button mushrooms.