I’m embarrassed to write that I completely dropped the ball on my shitake story. Questions sent by a couple of readers reminded me that I’d left the poor mushrooms warm and moist in their humidity tent.
Happily the story turned out well, in fact very well.
Within a week, small brown nodules started to poke out of the mycelium covered block. From that point on, it was a bit like watching a time-laps movie. The buds grew rapidly and quickly took on the characteristic mushroom shape as the cap opened up, looking first like a conical hat and then spreading out like an umbrella.
Most grew out of the sides of the block, pressing against the humidity tent (aka plastic bag). The instructions warned that this could distort their shapes, so I adjusted the bag — I mean tent — daily to provide room.
When the first couple reached what looked to me like the prime eating stage, I pulled out the kitchen shears, clipped them off where they emerged from the log, walked the five-feet to the cutting board, removed the stem, sliced them up an dropped them into a saucepan of EVOO and garlic. Five minutes later, I was enjoying the freshest and tastiest shitakes I’d ever had.
My earlier forays with home agricultural have always resulted in a sudden oversupply of whatever I was growing, often at the same time that the neighbors were trying to give us their excess. While it’s hard to have too many tomatoes, it’s easy to have too many zucchinis. Thankfully, my shitakes cooperated remarkably well. I was able to harvest a couple of plump mushrooms every 2-3 days for about two weeks.
Once the crop was done, I set the log in a dry spot and let it go dormant. Two months later, now an old hand at the process, I soaked the log and set up the humidity tent. Two weeks later, I had another crop, pretty much like the first one. We had a family gathering planned, so this time I let them grow and was able to harves about a dozen large mushrooms all at once. It was a little tricky, because the ones that had emerged the earliest were showing signs of shriveling. They were still delicious.
The log is now drying out. I’m anxious to try another crop in warmer weather, which is only a few weeks away. The first two crops may have suffered because our kitchen drops into the mid 50’s (F) at night. If what I read is correct, a warmer environment should result in faster growth and larger mushrooms.