Friday, 25 October 2013 | 26 comments

First shiitake harvest

Early this year, we inoculated some logs with shiitake spawn. Around September, we got our first one or two ‘shrooms. But just this week was the first time we had enough coming in to really harvest in earnest. Ben is smitten—I’m pretty sure his new life goal is to be a mushroom farmer—so I’ll keep you updated on that, I guess.I’m off to Ghana for two full weeks for work (armed with the enthusiastic recommendations y’all gave me last time I was there) so things may or may not be quiet around here.


In the meantime, though—it looks like I’m about to be up to my ears in shiitake mushrooms. What are your favorite ways to prepare shiitakes? Do you preserve mushrooms (I’m wondering specifically about drying that doesn’t require a dehydrator)? Or has anyone ever done marinated mushrooms in oil for antipasti, and do we think that could work with shiitake? I’m open to anything and everything. Until next time!

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§ 26 responses to First shiitake harvest

  • In russia we used to pickle mushrooms – Russians like to chase vodka shots down with them. Also makes for a great antipasti. I can ask my mom for the recipe too. Jealous of your mushroom harvest! :)

  • Hi Sarah, congratulations on your shiitake! While I’m an avid forager, I have never grown mushrooms (at least, not edible ones and not on purpose) and would love to try.

    I dry my foraged mushrooms without any special equipment, by slicing them as thinly as possible and spreading out them on newspapers in a sunny place. It’s helpful if you can get air circulation under the newspapers by elevating them on oven racks or something similar. Wait until they are totally dry and brittle (ideally, they should crack under pressure) before you put them away.

    Fresh shiitake are a rare treat for me so I don’t have that many recipe ideas, but soy-sauce braised dry ones are pretty good on bibimbap. Just place on top of a bowl of hot white rice with Korean hot bean sauce, a fried egg, and any other vegetable goodness you can round up, such as sprouts or kimchi. Dried ones are a secret weapon for stir-fries, though; a handful quickly reconstituted in hot water adds lots of flavor and goes with pretty much anything.

  • Xoco

    I love your website but I rarely post comments, and by rarely I mean, this is my first! :) That said, I would love to know how you inoculated these trees with mushroom spores. When did you do it? How did you get the spores? Is it too late to try to do this now?

    As for recipes, one of my favorite is a mushroom pizza with caramelized onions and arugula at the end on top! Here’s one recipe that is kind of similar: http://www.blue-kitchen.com/2008/10/01/homemade-pizza-quick-enough-for-a-weeknight/ Bon Appetit

    • Hi Xoco (+ everyone else asking how-to)—The process is mildly labor intensive at start-up, and involves finding and cutting the right type of wood (shiitakes like oak, and we tried some other hardwoods too) at the right time of year (when the tree is dormant). Then you need to order spawn, which comes either in a sawdust medium or in plugs, drilling holes in your logs, shoving the spawn in, possibly brushing wax over the top, and settling in for a long wait–the logs won’t start fruiting for 9 to 12 months. You also need to have somewhere that the logs can stay above freezing for several months after they’re inoculated. My directions are imprecise, and besides, I’m a first-timer. Fungi Perfecti is a popular west coast purveyor of spawn, and Ben got a tip that Field & Forest in Michigan has got the goods, too. Happy inoculating!

  • I’m so impressed! I have friends who’ve been keen to start cultivating mushrooms but none who’ve actually got round to doing so.
    There’s nothing mores satisfying than a meal of homegrown vegetables.
    I don’t think I’ve used shitake in any dishes other than Asian ones but they have such a great texture and rich flavour I’m sure they could be the star of so many meals.

  • This is really rad and makes me long for the day when I’ll finally have a yard and, hopefully, a huge garden! As for how I like to prepare my mushrooms, influenced by a memorable meal with a Finnish friend, I usually marinate them with herbs, honey, balsamic vinegar and oil. I imagine this would work just as well with shiitake, although I bet you could also put a little Japanese spin on it with sesame oil and rice vinegar.

  • Risotto.

  • A mushroom farmer sure sounds like a fun occupation! Mushrooms are something on my wishlist but for now I will live vicariously through the beauty of yours!

  • Maria

    I love mushrooms – all different kinds, most specially morels and chanterelles. Although I’ve eaten fresh shiitakes most of my life, I developed a severe allergy to them several years ago. I swelled up like a balloon and had to go to the ER. That was a sad day when I could no longer enjoy shiitakes sautéed with garlic in olive oil, my most favorite and simplest way to prepare them which let’s their woodsy and earthy mushroom flavor shine through. Luckily, I’m not allergic to other kinds of mushrooms. Maybe one day I will be able to eat shiitakes again. In the meantime, I toast the fortunate ones like you who are able to enjoy these fruits of the forest. Hope your shiitake harvest remains abundant!

  • fv

    Congratulations on your harvest! When they are really fresh, shiitakes are great simply roasted, finished with a sprinkle of good sea salt.

  • Elle

    I used to be macrobiotic so am well acquainted with shitakes – I ate them 3-4 nights a week for years. My favorite way was to slice the fattest ones I could find and saute them in olive oil with garlic and salt. Once they had a really delicious sear, I’d toss rinsed kale on top and stir it all around until the kale wilted. I Loved this with a side of quinoa with cubed steamed kabocha squash in it, (my fav for being sweet and dry yet creamy).

    Dried shitakes also make a killer consomme. Use a lot in good water (filtered) and soak them for a couple hours on the counter. Add a few sliced green onions and that’s it. I really enjoyed it’s simplicity and it makes a great cup of ‘tea’ on a cold afternoon.

  • Homegrown shiitake? So jealous! Whatever you make with them, just don’t hide the flavour. (Honour thy mushroom) – maybe mushies with garlic and butter on flatbreads?
    Have a great trip :)
    Amanda

  • Hilary

    Very cool!! How on earth did you go about doing this?

  • Wow, this is amazing! I must eat at least a pound every month… how many logs would I need?

  • PS: my favorite shiitake recipe is sauteed/braised with equal parts soy sauce, sake, mirin, and a tad of sugar.

  • I am oh-so-excited to see this. First, because I picked my own first home grown gilled friends just this evening. They are the most beautiful shiitake specimens I’ve ever seen (I probably feel about them as I would about a child I just gave birth to… whether other people would find them so uniquely beautiful is debateable.) Second, because this latest attempt is a re-match after a very unsuccessful log attempt many years ago, I am so glad to hear you are having success with the logs! I would love to throw a few in my urban backyard — maybe next year!

    Re: preserving — I would just put them in the oven on low for an hour or so to get the moisture out. Then you can put them in jars. You can also preserve them in oil. But drying them out is better in my mind.

    Have a lovely trip!

  • First, HOOT!!! You inoculated with shitakes?? I would so love to know where you got your spores. My middle child has a mild obsession with mushrooms — growing, not eating, but hey, it’s a start. We grew oysters from a kit this summer, but THIS would take the cake! Info, when you get a moment (2014 would be fine) would be grand.

    Second: I love this quick stir-fry of shitakes and bok choy (http://www.remedialeating.com/2011/06/on-one-hand.html?cid=6a011570ee66e1970b014e88fc3049970d#comment-6a011570ee66e1970b014e88fc3049970d). Far, far greater than the sum of its parts. Recipe calls for dried, but fresh are grand.

    Another go-to is a braised shitake in Grace Young’s Breath of the Wok. Basically: de-stem and halve a bunch of shitakes. Braise in a mix of chinese wine (or sherry), soy, a bit of minced ginger and/or garlic. Maybe a few tablespoons each of the liquids, per # of shrooms. As much or little of the seasonings as you wish. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 15-20, or until mushrooms have absorbed the liquid. They wind up looking just a bit darker than when they went in, but taste stumble-down drunk on all that good liquid. Play around. Add a bit of sesame oil. Fry briefly first in peanut oil to caramelize a bit. Chili if you like it. You get the picture. Yum.

    Safe travels, and congrats on your harvest!

    xo,
    Molly

  • Zoe

    That is seriously the coolest thing I’ve seen in a long time. Nice one! There’s this guy at our local markets who sells a heap of different types of mushrooms, shiitake included and he cooks up this incredible dish as a taster. All it is is torn up mushrooms, garlic, parsley, olive oil and soy sauce. So simple but insanely good. Have done it at home a few times and I highly recommend it!

    • Zoe

      Whoops, forgot to mention you just fry up the mushies & garlic in the olive oil until just soft then take from the heat & fold through the parsley and soy. Might help if I include this vital piece of info!!

  • Randy

    About a year ago, I started my Shiitake project in Maine. Without soaking them in cold water, they are now just starting to fruit. Should I sit back and harvest them as them come or go buy a tank to soak them in for better results? This is a very small operation with only 300 plugs in eight oak logs. Four or five shrooms popped out in the last two days, but it looks like it will be a slow process if I don’t soak. Please advise.

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