Well, not so much toil but a little bubble. Some of you will recall the saga of my growing out a yellow oyster mushroom kit. I eventually followed that (eventual) success with growing my own blue oysters from spawn on cardboard (which a search suggests I never blogged about - oops! Will fill you in soon). Well here we go again. This is another kit but for a much more delicious (but sadly more difficult to grow) shroom; shiitake (Lentinula edodes). Shiitake has been cultivated for over a millenia and this is a pre-established commercial kit so I'm hardly inventing the wheel but I thought it'd be worth getting experience with the species before I try and grow it myself.
In addition to being delicious Shiitake is believed to be a positive food medicinally; wikipedia tells me that 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.
Active hexose correlated compound (AHCC) is a compound isolated from shiitake which trials suggest may enhance immune function. Apparently a double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of 21 people supported the idea that AHCC may enhance immune function whilst other studies have shown that AHCC may benefit patients with hepatocellular carcinoma and prostate cancer.
Lentinan, a compound isolated from shiitake, is used as an intravenous anticancer agent in some countries and has been associated with a higher survival rate, higher quality of life, and lower recurrence of cancer.
Wikipedia is not a source I base my medicinal decisions on but all of the above sound like excellent reasons to keep eating something which is delicious.
You can see what look like proto-mushrooms forming in this which I believe is the "popcorn" phase of shiitake growth. I believe this kit is so well colonised it should just start fruiting without any need for cold shocks or drownings. We will see.