Holy Shiitake

Once upon a time, there was a little mushroom. He grew on the fallen trees in the forests of Asia. Then one day humans discovered him living among the wood and learned of all the amazing and wonderful things they could do with him. They called him Shiitake and have worshiped him ever since.

The shiitake mushroom is one of the most notable edible mushrooms to come out of Asia. Considered a culinary must have for Asian cuisine, it is also prized for its medicinal qualities and can be found in many traditional medicines.

What is in a name?

Shiibeing Japanese for Castanopsis, an evergreen tree of the birch family that is native to southeast Asia that provides the logs that this fungus favors, and take–Japanese for mushroom. Also known by the names “sawtooth oak mushroom,” “black forest mushroom,” “black mushroom,” “golden oak mushroom,” and “oakwood mushroom.”

Growing culture

The growing culture of shiitake is the decaying logs of deciduous trees in the shii, chestnut, oak, maple, beech, sweetgum, poplar, hornbeam, ironwood, mulberry, and chinquapin families. The grow in groups and require a warm moist climate in order to thrive.

Now a widely cultivated commercial crop, historically shiitake have been farmed since the 13th century in parts of China. Today shiitake farms contribute to approximately 25% of the world’s mushroom crop.

Farming shiitake

Growing shiitake has become a science easy enough for even the amateur grower to take on.

While “shiitake log” grow kits are commercially available, generally speaking they are not recommended because of the unreliability of the spores. For those looking to start farming shiitake we recommend one of two options:

  • Harvested logs
  • Spawn bags with substrate

If you choose to use harvested logs, they will need to be drilled to fit uninoculated dowel plugs. Shiitake spawn can then be inoculated into the plugs and the mushrooms can be grown in a fairly true-to-nature environment.

Alternatively, you can use spawn bags filled with a nutrient rich substrate. Most farmers like to use hardwood fruiting blocks, however, some have found success with supplemented straw.

Uses

The shiitake celebrates a rich cultural past. Its uses are both medicinal and culinary and new uses are being invented every day. Take the shiitake bacon phenomenon that is enjoying its hey-day as veganism becomes 2019’s hottest food trend.

The rich umami flavor shiitake lends to dishes is the secret ingredient in many-a-Asian dish, and crisped up, it lends a nutrient boost most and cuisine.

Ready to grow?

So, do you think you might like to try your hand at growing shiitake mushrooms? Hop on over to our shop to get started.

Still have questions? Contact one of our knowledgeable representatives now.

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