Friday, February 2, 2007

How Shiitake Mushrooms Are Grown

How Shiitake Mushroom Are Grown

Shiitake Mushrooms, or Lentinus Edodes as they are known by their technical name, certainly pack a punch when it comes to their great Umami flavour, brightening up any meal you serve them with. But where are they before they hit your dinner plate? And even before they hit the grocery store? Let’s find out just where shiitake mushrooms come from.

Shiitake mushrooms were originally cultivated on natural oak logs, a process which took two to four years to initiate. This process was so lengthy because it can take up to four years for the mycelium to colonize the wood sufficiently enough to produce fruiting. When the mushrooms did fruit it was on a seasonally basis; fall and spring. This would usually last about 6 years. With new technology mushroom farmers are now able to create artificial logs that produce shiitake mushrooms much faster.

Oak sawdust, straw, corn cobs and other organic materials are mulched up and packed into a poly bag where it is sterilized and inoculated with spawn. These bags are place in environmentally controlled rooms, where the humidity and light are set at the ideal growing conditions for shiitake mushrooms. These man-made logs will start to produce shiitakes in seven weeks. Once the shiitake have started to fruit, it takes another 7 days for them to be ready for harvest. Once a log is completely harvested and the first flush is finished, the log is soaked in ice cold water for about 1 hour. This re-actives the mushroom mycelia causing the log to start fruiting again. This new process will take about 4 months compared to the six year cycle on natural logs.

Shiitake mushrooms are harvested by hand, so you know you are getting quality, and delivered to your local grocery store within 12 hours of being picked.

Contrary to popular belief the shiitake mushrooms that you buy in Canada are not imported from Asian countries, but are grown right here in Canada. Now you know that they are definitely fresh.

Stay tuned, as we will discover how oyster mushrooms are grown.

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