Mushrooms are a favourite addition to our foods thanks to their unique taste and nutritive value. Here you can learn all about the different types of mushrooms, their flavours, nutritional benefits, and how to grow mushrooms right in your home.
We have all loved the distinct flavour and texture of mushrooms on our pizzas and in our curries.
But, they can also be super expensive along with being super tasty.
If you are like us, you might have wondered, how to grow mushrooms in your home so that they are delicious on the tongue and also easy on the pocket!
Not to wonder anymore - we got you all the info about mushrooms and how to grow them right here.
Did you know mushrooms are not a plant or a fruit or a vegetable - they're fungi?
Mushrooms are quite popular in European and Asian cuisine. They are versatile cooking ingredients that can be added in various forms to enhance the flavours and textures of a wide variety of dishes. They are a popular addition to dishes like pizza, pasta, soups, sauces, stir-fries, curries, and salads.
Health Benefits Of Mushrooms
Mushrooms are 'functional foods' i.e. Their positive effects go beyond mere nutrition.
Mushrooms are a rich source of nutrients like beta-glucan, selenium, choline, copper, potassium, and phosphorous. They also contain Vitamins B2, B3, and B5. Mushrooms have protein and fibre (soluble and insoluble) but are naturally low in fat and cholesterol. They are also a good source of antioxidants. Mushrooms might also be the only natural vegan source of vitamin D.
Researchers have found that regular consumption of mushrooms delivers numerous health benefits like better nutrient absorption, weight management, immune system boost, controlling diabetes, and fighting cancer.
The anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties of mushrooms make them an ideal antibiotic for healing fungal infections and microbial growth. They have been a staple of native medicinal systems of Asian countries for centuries.
The Taste And Texture Of Mushrooms
Mushrooms have an earthy, slightly woodsy, and savoury flavour with a spongy texture.
They are also described as containing 'umami' - the darker the mushroom, the higher the umami flavour. Drying and cooking the mushrooms intensifies this umami flavour.
Because of their slightly meaty flavour, mushrooms are quite popular among vegetarians and vegans as a meat substitute.
What Kind Of Mushrooms Can You Grow?
There are a whopping 2000 varieties of mushrooms. But not all of them are edible and some of them are even poisonous!
Consuming a poisonous mushroom can cause hallucinations, digestion issues, nausea, vomiting, stomach cramps, diarrhoea, and in severe cases liver failure and even death.
Especially in the case of wild mushrooms, there is no definitive home test for determining whether a mushroom is edible or poisonous. So, you should be careful while consuming wild mushrooms and until you are confident about identifying poisonous ones, it is better to stick to growing your own or buying from a trusted source.
Here are the most common mushrooms that can be grown easily at home:
1. Button mushrooms
or white caps are the most common variety of mushrooms with an earthy and nutty taste. They adapt well to a range of cuisines and are very easy to grow indoors. This is also the most commonly used mushroom in India.
2. Cremini mushrooms
mature button mushrooms with deeper colour and meatier cap. They have low moisture content and bold favour.
3. Shiitake mushrooms
have a mild, smoky, and meaty taste with a crispy texture and enjoy long shelf life. They are popular in Asian cuisine. These can be eaten raw also.
4. Portobello mushrooms
are known for their subtle flavour and meaty texture. They have thick white stalks. A regular part of Italian cuisine, they are a popular meat substitute.
5. Porcini mushrooms
have a hearty and nutty woodsy flavour with a rich meaty texture. They are highly seasonal and are popularly used in Italian and French cuisine. This mushroom is considered the king of mushrooms in Russian culture, as it is full of flavour, yet it is really hard to find.
6. Enoki mushrooms
have a crunchy texture and an almost fruity flavour. Their long fragile stems, topped with white tiny caps make them the ideal showy topping. In Asian countries this mushroom is called "See you tomorrow mushroom", you can guess what it means. (hint: it is connected to the digestion system)
7. Oyster mushrooms
come in striking colours like yellow, blue, pink, and gold. Pearl oysters and king oysters are particularly popular for their rich nutty, meaty taste and chewy texture.
8. Chanterelles mushrooms
are revered for their velvety texture, golden-orange colour, and fruity aroma. They have an earthy flavour with notes of pepper. This mushroom has got the nickname "Foxy", as its colour is really similar to the fox.
9. Morel mushrooms
have attractive honeycomb-like caps, with nutty and savoury flavour. Their spongy structure absorbs the sauces well. But, they might be a bit tricky to grow for beginners.
10. Wine cap mushrooms
sport a white stalk and a port wine-colored top. They have a slightly nutty flavour and crisp texture.
How To Grow Mushrooms
Mushrooms are ideal to grow indoors as they produce high yields, adapt well to space restrictions, and need minimal effort and expertise. Moreover, as you can exert greater control over conditions like light, humidity, and temperature, mushrooms are likely to grow faster indoors.
Here are simple and easy pointers that will tell you how to grow mushrooms right in your home -
Where To Grow?
Mushrooms thrive in cool, damp, and dark spaces with low amounts of indirect sunlight. The ideal spots for growing mushrooms indoors are spaces like a basement, unused closet, or under the sink. Pick a place where you can ensure near darkness and control temperature and humidity.
The Spore Or Spawn
You can start your mushroom cultivation with either the spore or the spawn.
Spores are like mushroom seeds but so tiny that they are invisible to the naked. Spawn are like seedlings, they are a blend of spores and a nutrient source like sawdust. Spawn itself can grow mushrooms but it gives a much better harvest when added to a growing medium.
However, if you are a beginner, it is better to opt for spawn as they are easier to grow.
Different mushrooms prefer different mediums to grow. So, depending on your choice of spawn, you can opt for mediums like coffee grounds, sawdust, straw, woodchips, grain, or compost.
14 to 16-inch trays which are at least 6 inches deep so that the roots have plenty of space to grow are ideal for growing mushrooms indoors. Fill the tray with the choice of growing medium and sprinkle the spawn on top.
Mushrooms grow best when started at 70 F or 21 C temperature. You can use a thermometer to ensure the right temperature and also place the container over a heating pad if extra warmth is needed.
After a few weeks, once the mushrooms are rooted, they can tolerate the lower temperatures.
Keep the soil moist by consistently spraying it with water and covering it with a damp cloth. Keep the cloth moist by spritzing more water on it as it dries. After the mushrooms have emerged, dampen the soil whenever it feels dry to the touch.
Mushrooms do not have roots but are grown from mycelium - tiny white threadlike bodies on and under the growing medium. A healthy mycelium system grows first before mushrooms emerge from the growing medium.
Mushrooms are ready to be harvested when their cap is fully open and separated from the stem. This takes on average, around 3 to 4 weeks.
While harvesting, you have to be extremely gentle. Cut the mushroom stalk directly with a sharp knife. Avoid pulling as it can damage the surrounding fungi and disturb the mycelium blow.
Once you have harvested, the stem of the mushroom will rot away. So, you may need to add more spawns or spores to ensure continuous yield. Store some mushrooms in the container so that their spores can grow in the container.
Freshly picked mushrooms are a flavourful and nutritious addition to your meals. The ease of growing and numerous health benefits makes it worth your while to learn how to grow mushrooms in your home.
Are you a fan of mushrooms?
Have you tried growing your own in your indoor garden?
Tell your favourite tips for growing mushrooms, and favourite recipes with mushrooms in the comments.