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Boost your garden and save on our bargain oyster blocks!

We have a few Elm and Mediterranean Oyster blocks in the bargain bin just in time for Spring planting!  Oysters will make your garden grow healthier, larger plants!  

Check out Cathy's Blog here for more information:  http://everythingmushrooms.com/blog/eggplant-and-elm-oysters-made-in-the-partial-shade/



Planting Morel Mushrooms with EM's Landscape Black Morel Spawn

The Everything Mushrooms Landscape Black Morel Spawn is composed of a recently described species of morel - Morchella importuna. In a paper by Kuo, et al (2012) they explain the importuna “epithet means “assertive” or “inconsiderate” in character; the species often is the cause of consternation and distress among gardeners and homeowners whose territory has been invaded”. They go onto explain M. importuna shows up unexpectedly in landscaped areas, planters, gardens and woodchip beds [1&91;.

I personally can't imagine being distressed by any mushroom, especially a tasty Morel showing up in my garden. So how we interpret this description here at EM is that this is a great species for growing in your yard in disturbed soil!

The best time to “plant” Morel mushroom Mycelium is in the fall. The Morel mushrooms appear in the spring. Before spring weather the mycelia needs a head start to grow the sclerotium necessary for forming morel mushrooms. The onset and abundance of morel fruits depends on sclerotia formation followed by warming spring temperatures, accompanied by suitable precipitation.

Morchell importuna was first described in Western United States, since it's naming it has been located in the mid-west and eastern North America and as far away as China and Turkey. For this reason M. importuna is considered a transcontinental species. So it can probably adapt to most places that can support morel mycelium and fruiting.

Landscape Black Morel grows well where there are trees. Other Morel species have been associated with coniferous forests or with ash and old apple trees [1&91;. Well-studied species like M. esculenta (Yellow Morel) have been shown to grow better under Hickory species, American Elm and American Basswood [2&91;. We have M. esculenta available in liquid culture form, grown from a Large Yellow Morel found here in the foothills of East Tennessee. No specific plant species symbiotic association with M. importuna has been identified, so if you don't have trees try the kit in any shady spot you can find.

Many other Morel species have been associated with fire and specific interactions with plants after a burn [3-7&91;. For this reason some websites recommend adding ash to the morel planing site. Fire is has not been correlated with Landscape Black Morel fruiting, but being a relatively newly described and unstudied species that can change.

The fruiting of EM's mushroom kit in part involves a “trick” developed by Volk and Leonard for growing morels [8&91;. Volk and Leonord found that depletion of nutrients triggers the formation of morel sclerotia. Sclerotia are a compact mass of dormant hardened mycelia containing food reserves that can survive in dry environments for several years (visible as small orange balls on the EM Landscape Black Morel Kit). To trick the block into fruiting, it is planted or buried in soil without carbon amendments (nutrient poor substrate). The limited nutrient reserves left in the block can form large sclerotia, which under the right conditions will become morel mushrooms!

Planting is easy!

First scout the site. Look for a shaded, damp area sheltered from the wind. It is beneficial for the bed to receive natural rainfall, even if you are able to water regularly, do not choose a site where water pools. A slope out of the wind, under a shady tree, is a good location. It is important to put the bed somewhere easy to see, but out of the way of foot traffic. Morel mushrooms can appear anywhere from March until May depending on when spring sets in, so the easier it is to check on them the better.

We have found that Landscape Black Morel does well in soil with the addition of lime. If you have naturally occurring limestone in your area you are in luck. Otherwise you will need to add lime.

You will need:

Agricultural grade lime

Scissors

A trowel or shovel

Bury the Block:

  1. Dig a hole big enough for the block to fit with a couple of extra inches. 

  2. Sprinkle the hole heavily with agricultural lime and mix into the soil. 

  3. Carefully cut the bag down the side, gingerly remove the top layer of wood only, and place it in the hole. Discard the lower layer of grain. 

  4. Mix the dirt removed from the hole with a ½ cup of lime.
  5. Cover the morel mycelium block with the limed soil. 

  6. Ignore the spot until spring.
  7. Check often in the spring, especially after a warm rain.

This strain has been successfully fruited in a disturbed garden habitat. However, even with the formation of mycelium and sclerotium, there are many factors that will influence the formation of morel mushrooms. Areas where morel mushrooms are found locally are more likely to have success. Even in good conditions morel spawn might not fruit for years after planting. For best results, plant spawn outdoors in fall or early winter.

1. Kuo, M., et al., Taxonomic revision of true morels (Morchella) in Canada and the United States. Mycologia, 2012. 104(5): p. 1159-1177.

2. Mihail, J.D., J.N. Bruhn, and P. Bonello, Spatial and temporal patterns of morel fruiting. Mycological Research, 2007. 111: p. 339-346.

3. Baynes, M., et al., A novel plant-fungal mutualism associated with fire. Fungal Biology, 2012. 116(1): p. 133-144.

4. Masaphy, S., L. Zabari, and G. Gander-Shagug, Morchella conica Pers. proliferation in post-fire forests in northern Israel. Israel Journal of Plant Sciences, 2008. 56(4): p. 315-319.

5. Duchesne, L.C. and M.G. Weber, HIGH-INCIDENCE OF THE EDIBLE MOREL MORCHELLA-CONICA IN A JACK PINE, PINUS-BANKSIANA, FOREST FOLLOWING PRESCRIBED BURNING. Canadian Field-Naturalist, 1993. 107(1): p. 114-116.

6. Greene, D.F., M. Hesketh, and E. Pounden, Emergence of morel (Morchella) and pixie cup (Geopyxis carbonaria) ascocarps in response to the intensity of forest floor combustion during a wildfire. Mycologia, 2010. 102(4): p. 766-773.

7. Pilz, D., et al., Productivity and diversity of morel mushrooms in healthy, burned, and insect-damaged forests of northeastern Oregon. Forest Ecology and Management, 2004. 198(1-3): p. 367-386.

8. Volk, T.J. and T.J. Leonard, PHYSIOLOGICAL AND ENVIRONMENTAL-STUDIES OF SCLEROTIUM FORMATION AND MATURATION IN ISOLATES OF MORCHELLA-CRASSIPES. Applied and Environmental Microbiology, 1989. 55(12): p. 3095-3100.



Kombucha Fruit Fly Trap

Fruit flies love the smell of fruit, right? Maybe they love the fermentation products of the fruit [1,2,3&91;?

Possibly they really love to eat the yeast [4&91;, and bacteria [5&91; that eat the fruit. Or are they attracted to the pheromones of the female fruit fly that is eating the fruit [6&91;?

As it turns out, they are attracted to all the above. The signature smells of alcohols and acids that Kombucha organisms give off while they are eating sugar is very similar to what happens to fruit as it sits out and eventually rots. Kombucha also contains the yeast and bacteria fruit flies crave as sources of protein. Thus doing a beautiful job of attracting Fruit Flies, all you need to kill them is a simple trap.

Traps can be made from straight active Kombucha or Kombucha with fruit, fruit juice or sugar. The benefit of adding sugar/fruit juice is that it really gets the yeast and bacteria growing and stirring up a bunch of yummy smells. The negative is that an active Kombucha will form a SCOBY (Symbiotic Colony Of Bacteria and Yeast) or Mother. Which will need to be removed occasionally.

All you need is:

Active Kombucha Culture (not pasteurized)

Fruit Juice, Fruit or Sugar (if desired)

Vessel (this can be anything from an old jar to a beautiful vase)

Plastic Wrap

  1. Pour an inch or two of Kombucha in vessel.
  2. Add a pinch of sugar, an inch of fruit juice or a slice of fruit (if desired)
  3. Cover with plastic wrap
  4. Poke a hole in plastic wrap ≈ ¼ inch, big enough for fruit flies to get in but not out.                                                   

The best way to control fruit flies is to keep them in check. To do this make the trap or two at the first sign of fruit flies. When more fruit flies appear, check the trap remove the SCOBY and sometimes add a little more Kombucha, sugar or fruit juice.

The SCOBY can form a plug that can hinder the attractive compounds from actively disseminating into the air and luring the fruit flies. SCOBY will grow faster when you add fruit, fruit juice or sugar. Even without added sugar or fruit juice you still might need to remove the SCOBY occasionally.

Handling a SCOBY, especially a fruit fly encrusted SCOBY, can be a little too slimy for some people. Adding fruit is a little too much for me, it gets nasty, which can necessitate washing out the jar. You will have to assess your own level of fruit fly vs. gross tolerance.

It has been know for a while that vinegar (acetic acid) will lure fruit flies. In the quest for a better fruit fly trap scientists have found many chemical compounds associated with fermentation, nutrition and sex will entice fruit flies [1-6&91;. Kombucha fermentation produces an alluring mixture of the fermentation and nutrition compounds. All that is missing is the fruit fly sex pheromones. They show up when you start trapping flies.

1. Kleiber, J.R., et al., Attractiveness of Fermentation and Related Products to Spotted Wing Drosophila (Diptera: Drosophilidae). Environmental Entomology, 2014. 43(2): p. 439-447.

2. Dong, H.C., et al., A four-component synthetic attractant for Drosophila suzukii (Diptera: Drosophilidae) isolated from fermented bait headspace. Pest Management Science, 2014. 70(2): p. 324-331.

3. Becher, P.G., et al., Flying the Fly: Long-range Flight Behavior of Drosophila melanogaster to Attractive Odors. Journal of Chemical Ecology, 2010. 36(6): p. 599-607.

4. Christiaens, J.F., et al., The Fungal Aroma Gene ATF1 Promotes Dispersal of Yeast Cells through Insect Vectors. Cell Reports, 2014. 9(2): p. 425-432.

5. Robacker, D.C., Chemical ecology of bacterial relationships with fruit flies. Bulletin OILB/SROP, 2007. 30(9): p. 9-22.

6. Grosjean, Y., et al., An olfactory receptor for food-derived odours promotes male courtship in Drosophila. Nature, 2011. 478(7368): p. 236-U123.



A Shocking Logs Blog

Mushroom logs require patience. But if it has been close to a year after the plug date on a log, and there is no growth, it is time to take action. Shocking your logs will wake up your Shiitake logs within a week while Oyster logs may take up to one month.  

This log gave us a big surprise by fruiting at the ripe, old age of 9 years!

When do I shock my mushroom log?

Spring and fall are the best times to shock Shiitake and Oysters. Summer can be a bit hot but it never hurts to shock a few times to force more flushes from your logs. The only time you don't want to shock you logs is when temperatures will dip below freezing.

The easiest way to shock a log is by knocking one end of the log sharply on the ground to "wake up" the log, and submerging them overnight in cool, non-chlorinated water overnight. Here at Everything Mushrooms, we have a large trough to fill with a pallet of plugged logs. The bathtub, a large trash can, or even a bucket will work just fine as long as the log is completely covered. We noticed pinning the very next day after shocking our May 2015 batch of Shiitake plugged logs!  

See the little, baby Shiitake pushing wax out of its way!

After logs have been soaked, store logs so they have plenty of air and room as they grow. Most importantly store them so it is easy to see fruiting mushrooms. It is a good idea move logs close to the house or near your walking path to the door so you won't forget to keep an eye on them. We lean logs against a fence, so with a quick glance, we can see any new growth on all logs.

Stacking in a log cabin formation is good, just be sure you can see through the middle for any hiding mushrooms. Keeping logs off of the ground will also help keep the bugs and slugs off of the mushrooms as they fruit.


What do I look for?

Baby mushrooms will appear as white or brown bumps anywhere on the log. The little mushrooms will sometimes push out the wax, or even in between plug holes to push the outer layer of bark away from the log. It is alright to peel away bark to help a little pinning body to appear with less effort.

Shiitake caps are noticeable just two days after soaking our logs in water.

We have young Shiitake mushrooms fruiting just 4 days after shocking.

How can I get more mushrooms from my log?

Give the logs a break of a few weeks before shocking them again. Watering during fruiting can increase the yeild and overall health of the mushrooms on your log.

Check the mushrooms daily, if they seem dry they probably need a drink. Simply taking the hose to plugged logs is perfectly fine, just be careful to have low water pressure on the delicate mushrooms themselves. However, putting them under a misting system would lead to slugs and mold.  Watering logs in the morning and at night during fruiting can't hurt!  If it is dry in your area or you haven't had many or any mushrooms for a while it is probably due to dehydration. In this case, you will want to give your mushroom logs a thorough watering every 1-3 days after they have been soaked.

If you live in a dry area it is a good idea to give you logs a drink periodically year round. My rule of thumb is to give my logs a good hose down when it is cold enough that most of the precipitation has been in the form of ice or snow in the winter. Any other time of the year, I water my logs when it is dry enough to be watering my perennial plants.

What other ways can I shock mushroom logs?

Shocking logs mimics natural signals that tell fungi it is an advantageous time to fruit. The most commonly used methods for shocking are a physical trauma, rapid change in temperature or an increase in moisture. Like plant flowering, mushroom fruiting can actually be a stress response. A last ditch effort to have genes survive in the form of spores under adverse conditions like coming to end of its food source (a bag or log full of mycelium).

I like to think the physical trauma imitates a lightning strike or a tree crashing to the ground. In nature this would signal there is fresh wood for the colonizing. signaling the fungi to make mushrooms to ride the wind or a bug to a fresh new home.

Rapid change in temperature is a good way for fungi to tell the changing seasons. From winter to spring or summer to fall both offer the best temperatures an good rainfall for mycelium growth. Professional growers move logs inside and out for a good temperature shock.

Increase in moisture induces fruiting by imitating a natural rain event. Finding a happy moisture medium for everyday growing and mushrooms can be a bit of a challenge. I tend to lean toward the side of keeping the moisture low. After all in nature you will have times when mycelium will survive very very low moisture conditions. When things are too wet it invites all kinds of invaders. Keeping the moisture/humidity low also allows for a big rain like signal that will induce fruiting when you do soak overnight. However, if you live in a dry area or you haven't had a flush of mushrooms for a while it could be due to not enough water. A day long soak with continued, daily watering should do the trick.

Keep in mind many mushrooms only fruit at certain times of the year, no amount of shocking will get them to fruit. For shocking stick with Oysters and Shiitake. For all mushrooms logs, consistent watering during the dry months, and snow packs in the winter will keep your logs ready to flush each Spring/Summer/Autumn for years to come!

Remember:  NEVER give up on your logs!  This log was plugged with Shiitake 7 years ago, and fruited after shocking this Spring!



​Sourdough; A Wheat Bread Tolerated by the Gluten Sensitive?

When I first heard gluten antigens were “deativated” in sourdough bread I was quite intrigued. After all, it makes sense. Given enough time bacteria and yeast will multiply and eat most of the protein in the process, including gluten.

Full disclosure; it didn't work. My gluten sensitive friends had their normal negative, albeit somewhat diminished, reaction to eating any foods that contain gluten.

Why read on? Some gluten sensitive people can eat a sourdough prepared this way. It certainly had an effect on the dough. The procedure outlined here produced dough completely different in consistency from gluten elastic wheat flour dough.

In fact, there are a few scientific papers that developed a sourdough wheat bread that was tolerated by some subjects with Celiac Disease (CD). They used different combinations of cultured yeast and Lactobacillus sp. bacteria [1,2&91;. Other studies went a step further by adding fungal proteases to the sourdough mix to chop up the wheat gluten in bread and pasta [3-5&91;. Protease hydrolyzed sourdough wheat bread was tolerated by most, but not all, of the CD patients.

Being a nature girl myself I wasn't keen on trying out protease as a first attempt. So I stuck with developing a recipe based on naturally culturing bacteria from the air and yeast from the flour.

Start with the starter. The flour on day one should be whole grain because it contains the yeast necessary for a rise. For subsequent days, use the flour you prefer for baking. By feeding your flour to the mix you will select for the bacteria that will efficiently munch the gluten content in your favorite flour.

The water needs to be chlorine free the Lactobacillus bacteria and yeast can thrive.

Day 1:

½ cup whole grain flour

¼ cup water

Mix, stir and cover with a clean towel.

Store in a place with a constant temperature of about 72 or warmer (Top of the fridge always works well).


The remainder can be kept in a jar in the fridge.  Feed weekly to keep it alive.

The remainder can be kept in the fridge. Just feed weekly to keep it alive.

Day 2-5 or more, Daily feeding:

¼ cup flour

¼ cup water

Stir, cover and return to incubation area.

Day 3

Day 3 after mixing in the flour and water.

Around day 3...

You should notice some bubbles and some yeasty and fruity smells. It should look like slightly darker sort of gray flour and water. If you notice any other colors or putrid smells throw it out and start over.

If it is cold in your house you might need to feed your starter beyond day 5 until it is nice and bubbly.

When the starter is bubbling away it is time to make dough:

4 cups whole wheat flour

½ cup olive oil

1 cup starter

1 cup plus of cold water

2 tsp salt

Add first three ingredients to mixer bowl and mix with a dough hook. Add water until dough forms a ball. Add a little more water and continue mixing/kneading for a few minutes. Slather dough ball with olive oil and place in a bowl. Cover with a clean towel and return to incubation area.

You are going to let this dough rise for at least 3 days so the wee critters can munch on that gluten. So everything stays hydrated you want the dough to be a little wetter than normal bread dough. Dough should double in size. After the dough has risen mix in up to a ½ cup sugar or honey, to balance the sour, if desired.

Dough doubled in size.

Since there is little or no whole gluten left the dough is a bit hard to work with. I could not roll it out for pizza dough without it breaking apart during transfer. Instead you have to work the dough into pizza form with your fingers. The loaf spreads out during baking so it would be better to use a bread pan than rolling it into a baguette shape. On the plus side, no need for kneading to work the gluten. Bake bread at 350°F for an hour, pizza bake at 450°F until desired doneness.

Next:

The 3 day fermentation makes this dough sour! Some recipes recommend discarding half the starter every time you feed it to keep the acidity down. I decided not to do this because of the long incubation for the dough. I wanted to select for bacteria that could tolerate acidic pH. The discard method may be something worth trying.

Fungal proteases are commercially available in some Proteolytic Enzymes Capsules available on health supplement websites. So it would be possible to experiment with that as well. The paper by Greco et al. (2011) uses a 2 day incubation at 99°F with fungal proteases, Lactobacillus sp. and yeast.

In my journal searches I also came across papers that used sourdough to improve bread made from gluten-free flours [6, 7&91;. The sourdough method does produce a lovely bubbly dough. So this is the direction I will be experimenting with next...

If you made it to the end of this blog and you are wondering what does this have to do with mushrooms? It is a stretch but yeast are a fungi. The other Microbes, mostly Lactobacillus sp., are something that many of us incorporate into our diets in the form of yogurt. If you are squeemish about culturing what might be in your air you could try a scoop full of your favorite yogurt to create a starter.

1. Cagno, R.d., et al., Proteolysis by sourdough lactic acid bacteria: effects on wheat flour protein fractions and gliadin peptides involved in human cereal intolerance. Applied and Environmental Microbiology, 2002. 68(2): p. 623-633.

2. Di Cagno, R., et al., Sourdough bread made from wheat and nontoxic flours and started with selected lactobacilli is tolerated in celiac sprue patients. Applied and Environmental Microbiology, 2004. 70(2): p. 1088-1096.

3. Greco, L., et al., Safety for Patients With Celiac Disease of Baked Goods Made of Wheat Flour Hydrolyzed During Food Processing. Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology, 2011. 9(1): p. 24-29.

4. Curiel, J.A., et al., Manufacture and characterization of pasta made with wheat flour rendered gluten-free using fungal proteases and selected sourdough lactic acid bacteria. Journal of Cereal Science, 2014. 59(1): p. 79-87.

5. Rizzello, C.G., et al., Use of fungal proteases and selected sourdough lactic acid bacteria for making wheat bread with an intermediate content of gluten. Food Microbiology, 2014. 37: p. 59-68.

6. Ternovskoy, G., et al., Application of sour dough in the production of gluten free bread. Acta Scientiarum Polonorum - Technologia Alimentaria, 2013. 12(4): p. 355-358.

7. Campo, E., et al., Impact of sourdough on sensory properties and consumers' preference of gluten-free breads enriched with teff flour. Journal of Cereal Science, 2016. 67: p. 75-82.



Oyster Towers - recycling your grow blocks

After a few mushroom harvests from your oyster mushroom grow kit or oyster mushroom sawdust spawn block, it can take on a new life outdoors. You can mix the blocks with woody yard waste to grow more tasty mushrooms!

You will need:

Find a location that is completely or mostly shaded – where no walls or overhangs block precipitation. Start by placing a layer of cardboard on the ground. This helps prevent native fungus from taking over your towers. Affix hog wire fencing in a small circle, this can be accomplished by bending the wire or zip ties (don't use poultry mesh because the smaller holes will hamper natural growth of your mushrooms). Add a layer of fresh wood chips, water well, then break up grow block into golf ball size pieces and layer evenly on chips. Repeat the process until spawn block is exhausted, spawn at a rate of approximately 1:5 (spawn block weight:wood weight)- end with a layer of wood chips. Water tower whenever it appears to be dry.

Branches used to make chips were collected over several months - in one day they were all taken for a free trip through the chipper shredder. Towers were constructed immediately after chipping to reduce the risk of native fungi and pathogens taking hold on the wood chips. For pearl, blue and king oysters you will want to use hardwoods or fresh clean straw. Phoenix oysters grow naturally on fir trees and can survive on some other coniferous species, but you should stay away from highly fragrant species that are known to be resistant to fungus like cedar. A phoenix oyster tower can be comprised of some confer chips but for best results they should be mixed with straw or hardwood chips.

These towers were started in mid-summer where temperatures exceeded 95°F for several days, even so the first flush of mushrooms came after 40 days. Here in Tennessee and the North American interior the best time to start a mushroom tower is spring or early fall when there are mild temperatures and plenty of rain. In the deep south or coastal regions oyster mushroom towers can be started almost any time of the year. The mycelium will survive below freezing temperatures so it will make it through the winter in most of the US as long as adequate water is supplied.

Oysters, lions mane and maitake mushrooms grow naturally from the sides of stumps or dead trees. Building towers mimic the natural habitats and fruiting behavior of these mushrooms. Shiitakes and pioppino mushrooms can grow from the ground. For these mushrooms towers aren't necessary. They will grow in a flat mushroom bed. Just like the oysters you want to locate the bed in a shady area. Start with a cardboard layer then mix spawn with woodchips or straw.

Oyster towers can be grown without any supplements to the wood or straw, however studies have shown that small amounts of nitrogen or calcium can accelerate the growth of the mycelium, calcium sulfate (gypsum) 3% to the woodchips or calcium carbonate 1-3% (lime) with the straw. Using plant fertilizer for nitrogen is not recommended as it can burn the mycellium, however small amounts of manure, coffee or seeds can accelerate growth. Don't add too much- a little will go a long way.

As with most mushroom growing projects you need to be patient. These aren't like plants where you see sprouts within a week, getting mushrooms within a month would be a very exciting result.

The mushroom mycelium in the grow blocks enzymatically breaks down wood for food, in turn it uses the energy to grow more mycelium and mushrooms. The mushroom towers are a good illustration of how all life breathes no matter how small or inconspicuous - as the mushroom mycellium grows and breaks down the lignocellulose in the tower it respires CO2 and water. You can see how quickly the towers dry out due to constant respiration of the hungry mycelium! 



​Epiparasites the Freddie the Freeloader of Plants

Epiparasites the Freddie the Freeloader of Plants

Do you have friend(s) that always shows up for the potluck empty-handed,  or they surprise you by showing up for dinner unannounced? You keep them around because they are fun, and their devil-may-care attitude can distract you from the rigors of life. There are actually plants like that too. Captivating plants like Squawroot, Dutchman's Pipe here in the east, and out west, Snow Plant.

These plants evolved to live without making their own chloroplyll. Chlorophyll is the molecule that allows plants to gather energy from the sun and to make all the yummy things we love to eat. Why would the Freddies of the plant world give up the ability to make it’s own food? Why do the work when you can get the food for free.

For a long time these plant were thought to be saprophytes. That is, organisms that feed off of dead and decaying matter in a similar manner as mushrooms and other fungi. This was mostly because studies showed that Freddie did not interact directly with other plants (via roots connections), like most parasites. The truth is more complicated. Turns out they do take energy from plants but through an intermediary—Fungus! (Leake 2004)

All plants have evolved symbiotic relationships with fungi. The fungus breaks up humus and other matter in the soil and provide minerals in a usable form for the plants. Their abundant surface structure of fine mycelium allows for more efficient uptake and transfer of water than roots alone. In return, the plants provide sugars for the fungus (Sanders 2003).

Freddie plants evolved knowing they can get the all the sugars and minerals he needs to survive from the other plants and fungi. Their only job is to make the next generation and move on. They know this gig is temporary. The environmental cues for each species are well coordinated, all come up at once. Flowers at the ready to make the next generation of freeloaders. They do their thing, seed and die back to the ground. No need for leaves to stick around to harness the suns energy for later days.

A few of the scientific papers I looked at described these plants as “cheaters”. I found that a little harsh. I can’t dislike these plants for their freeloading ways. These little natural anomalies are like artists, they awaken the spirit. Just like the smooth saxaphone meanderings of the jazz song, "Freddie the Freeloader", or those friends that show up every now and then. Coming across little white pipes in the woods or Squawroot in bloom or its ghostly remnants, always bring me joy.

Leake, J. R. (2004). "Myco-heterotroph/epiparasitic plant interactions with ectomycorrhizal and arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi." Current Opinion in Plant Biology 7(4): 422-428.

More than 400 achlorophyllous plant species in 87 genera are parasitic upon fungi, and exploit them as their principle source of carbon. With a few exceptions, most of these myco-heterotrophic plants are now thought to be 'cheats', stealing carbon and nutrients from the mycorrhizal associates of adjacent autotrophic plants. Most myco-heterotrophs are therefore considered to be epiparasitic on green plants. Both the ectomycorrhizal and arbuscular mycorrhizal symbioses have been invaded by myco-heterotrophic epiparasites. DNA analysis is revealing the identities of many of the fungal partners of myco-heterotrophs, and their exceptionally high specificity. Myco-heterotrophs have distinctive stable isotope signatures, which can be used to establish the dependence upon fungal carbon of green plants that are partially myco-heterotrophic.

Sanders, I. R. (2003). "Preference, specificity and cheating in the arbuscular mycorrhizal symbiosis." Trends in Plant Science 8(4): 143-145.

Arbuscular mycorrhizal symbioses are mutualistic interactions between fungi and most plants. There is considerable interest in this symbiosis because of the strong nutritional benefits conferred to plants and its influence on plant diversity. Until recently, the symbiosis was assumed to be unspecific. However, two studies have now revealed that although it can be largely unspecific with the fungal community composition changing seasonally, in certain ecosystems it can also be highly specific and might potentially allow plants to cheat the arbuscular mycorrhizal network that connects plants below ground.



Eggplant and Elm Oysters: Made in the Partial Shade

The benefits of growing mushrooms in your garden go much deeper that you might first realize. Not only will you be growing two food crops in the same space, but they have synergistic and beneficial effects on one another. Physically,the straw and woodchips used to grow the mushrooms act as mulch layer that keeps you plants moist and weeds in check. In return, plants provide shade and transpiration from the leaves has a cooling effect that keeps the mushroom mycelium happy. Nutritionally, the plant roots provide the mycelium with sugars, and the mycelium provides the roots with water and minerals in a bio-available form as they break down the mulch and the soil. For pest and disease control, some fungi like the Elm Oyster are actually entomopathogenic. That is, they kill and sometime “eat” some of the bugs your plants attract. Mushroom mycelium can also keep fungal and bacterial invaders in check. By companion planting, you get to play Mother Nature by creating a mini-ecosystem in your garden beds.

I have grown elm oysters in garden beds with peppers and kale. Both did OK but the plants didn't provide the shade necessary, and it wasn't the right time to grow many Elm Oyster mushrooms here in Tennessee. When thinking about what might work better, I was struck by a memory of visiting a friend's house.  I stuck my nose into their business by telling them that they had planted their eggplant in a spot that was too shady.   As the summer went on, I was pleasantly surprised to find out I was wrong. Not only did the eggplant grow but it had significantly less flea beetle damage than many eggplants have in full sun.  Although it did not produce many eggplants; the flowers and foliage were lovely enough to call it an ornamental.

So I thought I would try to grow eggplant both white and western, with elm oyster mushrooms in partial shade. It was the best combination I have tried so far. There was a large crop of eggplants and the damage from insects was minimal. In addition there were two flushes of elm oysters, one early in the summer and then one later.

Start by choosing the garden location. The best spot for both crops here in Tennessee is partial shade. Farther north the large leaves of the eggplant and cooler temps would probably allow for a mostly sunny spot. One Everything Mushroom Sawdust Spawn Block of Elm Oyster will cover 20 to 40 Square feet of bed. So choose a site that can accommodate a bed somewhere in the 3x7 to 4x10ft range.

Prepare the bed: It is necessary to start with rich, well-drained soil. Mycelium will be burned with any kind of inorganic fertilizer so stick with organic. Amend the soil with well-composted plant materials or aged manure. Avoid fresher amendments like leaf litter that are bound to have native fungi lurking which slow down or take over the Elm Oysters.

Insure soil is well-drained, as standing water will damage or even kill the mycelium. If needed, till and amend with inorganic materials for drainage (like vermiculite).

Soil is a whole science, if you are new to organic gardening in your area look for suggestions from local gardeners and extension agents.

Plant the eggplant early in the spring: Here in East Tennessee, I try to start plants soon after the last frost. The last frost date here is Mid-May, to which I pay no attention, because it can get hot quickly here and I want plants and mushrooms started before it gets too hot. Keep an eye on the long term forecast, and if there is no frost go ahead and plant. I start my plants in late April with the understanding there is a small chance you may need to cover plants if there is a frost warning.

Start your mushrooms: Once plants are established and starting to grow (2 to 3 weeks later) its time to spawn. Give your mushrooms a good head start against possible invaders by putting down a layer of cardboard or burlap sacks.

Always start with fresh dry substrates (straw and wood-chips) with no hits of fungal or other growth. Put down a layer of loose straw, break up the spawn block into golf ball to tennis ball sized pieces and broadcast over the straw.

Add more straw and top and finish with a layer of wood-chips. 

The bed is ready for watering.

Now the bed is ready for watering!

Press everything together so that the spawn is making good contact with the straw substrate (this probably needs to be done several times). The layer of heavy wood-chips helps keep everything compacted.

Water: Water like you would a normal vegetable garden. In general, give the bed a good soaking every two to three days if there isn't a good rain in the mean time. If it gets very dry or wet increase or decrease watering accordingly.

Vigilance: Check beds daily for mushrooms, especially after big rain events accompanied by fluctuations in temperature. The mushrooms don't last long outside. They also have the tendency to flush while you are on vacation and you want good pictures for your blog.

Eggplant and sweet potato circle first showing.

When growing Mushrooms - Experiment! Question authority! Question this Blog!

Growing specialty mushrooms, especially outdoors in beds, is a new to most gardeners here in the US. There is very little formal research and almost no funding to look into new methods. The thing is mushrooms can surprise you. Mushrooms can grow in a host of conditions and a wide of range of temperatures. Who knows what will grow best in your area.

From my backyard experiments, I think the entomopathogenic aspect is particularly exciting and much more widespread than reported. A formal study of Elm oyster showed that mycelium could kill 62% sugar beet nematodes in laboratory on petri plates (Palizi, Goltapeh et al. 2009). The same study confirmed that Pleurotus oyster mushrooms are able to capture, kill and digest the same cyst nematodes. Both species kill the bugs by excreting toxins from their hyphae. While studies like these are exciting the ability of mushroom species to fend off or kill bugs has not been well explored or employed in the garden setting.

Sometimes even question dogma when it comes to growing plants.

I did a pretty extensive internet search for growing eggplants in the shade and all experts seem to agree that “eggplants are a full sun crop”. They have large leaves like many shade dwelling plants. I hypothesized that here in Tennessee where it gets so hot, perhaps the shade provides enough of a a cooler spot that allow eggplants to grow better.

When things work it can be great fun. I was delighted my mental meanderings found a great partnership between Elm oyster – Eggplants in semi-shade. The large leaves and creeping nature of the eggplants produce enough shade to keep the mushrooms happy. Not only did it provide a couple of flushes of delicious Elm Oyster, but my eggplants never looked better or produced more fruits! Something else with large leaves like squash might work even better as well.

As with all mushrooms grown outside, be aware of invader mushroom species. Make a positive ID before eating any mushrooms grown outdoors.

I did the oyster-eggplant bed near a control plot with no mushrooms, but mulched with straw and wood-chips. The difference in bug damage was huge!

Control bed without Elm oysters.

Healthier garden with Elm oysters!

Palizi, P., E. M. Goltapeh, et al. (2009). "POTENTIAL OF OYSTER MUSHROOMS FOR THE BIOCONTROL OF SUGAR BEET NEMATODE (HETERODERA SCHACHTII)." Journal of Plant Protection Research49(1): 27-33.



Think like a Fungus: Using Observations of the Natural World and Evolution to Grow More Mushrooms

When faced with the challenges of growing mushrooms, it can be helpful to look at natural habitat of the mushroom species to figure out what condition might be adversely effecting them. Simple observations of the natural world can be a powerful tool to understand what might be helpful in optimizing your growing parameters. Whether you are a professional grower or passionate hobbyist, it gives you a chance to geek out and really get down and know the élan vital of your mushrooms.

Let's use Pleurotis sp. Oyster mushrooms as an example:

  1. Almost all oyster mushrooms grow on logs, on or near to the the forest floor, with plenty of fresh air.
  2. Oysters often fruit after a precipitation event or a rapid change in temperature.
  3. They thrive in the low light conditions of the forest under normal diurnal light and temperature patterns.
  4. Oyster mushrooms grow all over the world, so as a genus they can live in a wide range of conditions but many have spectated to live in an narrow range of temperature and humidity conditions.
  5. Oysters often grow on logs that host other fungi, mostly hardwood trees, but not all.
  6. Like most fungi they don't live on cow paddies or other animal waste, just the humus and dead trees of the forest.
  7. Mushrooms are one of the ways fungi have evolved to spread their spores.

What can we learn from all this?

1) Oyster mushrooms need Carbon, Hydrogen, and Oxygen to sustain their life. In a mushroom log, these come in the form of cellulose, hemicellulose and a little bit of lignin. There is some protein and nitrogen present in the cells of a tree, but not a lot. Oysters don not need much fertilization to thrive and fruit. Adding fertilizers like nitrogen can help boost production but it is important to remember these are NOT plants. They respond best to small amounts of supplements in natural forms that they can break down like coffee grounds, grain or hair. In some situations fertilizers can be a detriment, because they attract and feed other fungi, bacteria, and insects.

2) On the forest floor, oyster mycelium can live happily and not be affected by a multitude of pathogens lurking in the soil. When mushroom mycelium is healthy, it can keep invaders at bay. Always take steps to insure mycelium can have a strong, fast run by observing optimal temperatures and humidity with plenty of fresh air. A fast run is your best defense against invading fungi or bacteria.

3) Mushrooms need fresh air, so you cannot shut them up in a room where they are breathing their own waste products (CO2) and expect them to do well. Mushrooms can fruit in a closed environment, but expect them to be small and thin.

Using plastic bags to grow mushrooms is an efficient, cost effective way to grow mushrooms. Really there is no other containment system besides logs that works better. Obviously, they aren't the ideal system as far as air exchange. The humidity tents included in our grow kits have plenty of air holes, and we suggest maintaining good ventilation in the room or area where the mushrooms are fruiting.

4) Like plant flowering, mushroom fruiting is actually a stress response. It is a last ditch effort to have genes survive in the form of spores under adverse conditions. Things that stress the mycelium enough to form fruits include: rapid change in temperature, an increase in moisture, a physical trauma (like dropping a log on the ground), or coming to the end of its food source (a bag or log full of mycelium).

The easiest way to induce fruiting is by imitating a natural rain event. Finding a happy medium for everyday growing with moisture and mushrooms can be a bit of a challenge. I recommend keeping the moisture low. After all, in nature you will have times when mycelium will survive during very low moisture conditions. When things are too wet it invites all kinds of invaders. Keeping the moisture and humidity low also allows for a big rain-like signal that will induce fruiting when you do add water. When you are ready for a flush get out the hose or, in the case of logs, soak in a bucket for 24 hours.

5) Mushrooms grow outside where there is plenty of light. They often stay on the shady side of the log or in a crevices. For fruiting it is necessary to expose mycelium to some light but keep it out of direct sunlight. They can take only small amounts of direct sunshine. If they are indoors in a room that has windows, use a light to mimic the natural day and night cycle.

6) Many people are surprised to find out things like mushrooms and bacteria can tell time. The fact is for the whole evolution of life on our planet there have been regular light and dark cycles. Given the Earth's volatile beginnings, it is pretty much the only environmental constant that early lifeforms could count on.

Oyster mushroom mycelium can be grown in the deep regions of a dark log so you can keep mushrooms in the dark during a spawn run. However, to initiate fruiting you will need normal light and dark cycles. If you are growing the mushrooms indoors without windows you will need a timer or manually turn lights on and off. Also, having the temperature lowered about 10°F at night will mimic normal temperature swings and get the mushrooms in the mood to fruit.

7) Blue and Pearl oysters are warm and cold weather varieties, respectively, but tend to be flexible with the range of temperatures in which they fruit. As with high CO2 levels, if oysters are grown outside optimal temperatures, expect flushes to be weaker and fruits to be smaller. Pictured here are Pearls and Blues that got too cold.

If a particular oyster strain doesn't do well for you in any given season, try another. The strain you are using might have evolved to a point where they can't be made happy with their environment. There is almost always a strain that will work for the temperatures, light, growing medium and humidity you can easily provide.

Many of our expert customers and farmers have developed a yearly cycle for what type of mushrooms they produce. Sometimes the spawn they order is exactly what you would expect- winter tree, pearl, and elm oyster for winter, pinks for summer, etc. Sometimes it is counter to what is read in many mushroom growing reference books. Many grow elms in the summer and blues in the winter. Mix it up and try a different strain or even species if you are having trouble growing in a particular season.

8) Oyster mushrooms grow fast and breakdown and eat the cellulose, hemicellulose, and a little bit of lignin. Other fungi, like woodear, are better at breaking down the fortified lignin walls allowing the fast-growing oysters to move in and enjoy the rest. So plant waste and materials made from plant cellulose that have little or no lignin (straw, paper, jute, agriculture wastes) are great for growing oyster.

When growing Oysters on logs, use young trees that have more light colored sapwood than the sturdy lignin fortified darker heartwood. “Softer hardwoods” like Maple, Poplar, Beech, Birch, Elm, work best for oysters.

9) Conifers contain resins that pine trees have evolved to fend off fungal and other invaders (think turpentine or cedar chips). Once these strong smelling compounds are gone fungi, like oysters, move in and have a feast on the nice soft pine wood.

Oysters that can grow on pine logs like Phoenix, only grow on less aromatic species like fir and hemlock. If you are using sawdust to grow oysters it is best to avoid all evergreens, especially cedar. Just a little bit of pine sawdust can inhibit oyster growth completely.

10) The myth that all mushrooms like to grow on horse pucky in basements is a notion we try to dispel here at EM. Almost all of the mushrooms we grow here live in the woods and grow on logs or from organic matter on the ground.

11) Like flower pollen and fruit seeds, mushrooms are a fungus's way of spreading their spores/genes around. Like seeds and pollen, mushrooms and spores can attract the animals and insects. Some mushrooms even glow in the dark to attract insects - like moths to a flame. If you are growing outside, anticipate that you might have some bug visitors. Take proactive measures to try to limit their access. Simple things like harvesting mushrooms as soon as they are ready will go a long way to keep a population from moving in and making a home.

Like many mushroom growers, my background is in plants. While a knowledge of growing plants is very helpful, fungi do grow very differently. If you are new to growing mushrooms take a moment to appreciate the time line of fungus growth. The mycelium run can take as long as a month in bags to several months on logs. Then fruits can appear suddenly. It takes some time to get accustomed to the idiosyncrasies of growing mushrooms. Much like growing plants, the more you appreciate, observe and understand the needs of the mushroom the better grower you will be. A green thumb can turn into a beige thumb in no time!



Catch Morel Fever!

Here in Tennessee, morels will make their appearance the last few weeks in March or the first few weeks in April. Morel hunting is the perfect activity for enjoying the outdoors this beautiful time of year. Not only will the fresh air and activity invigorate you, but you will feel like a kid on a treasure hunt!

Prepare for the hunt! Stare at pictures of morels in their natural setting, or even better print a few out and hang them in low areas around the house. It might sound crazy, but sometimes the trick to seeing things in nature is to not look for them. This can be especially true of morels. You want your unconscious mind to perceive the morels rather than intently searching the ground every moment you are in the woods. You can do this in part by training your eyes to take in all of the surroundings while latching onto the subtle shapes, textures and colors that are morels.

Include the kids! Children have an eye for finding mushrooms. It may surprise you how quickly kids will find morels while going on an afternoon hike. After you find your first morel, it isn't unusual to look around the immediate area and find more - sometimes dozens more! Now that you are mentally prepared get physically prepared. You can sometimes find morels conveniently located along the trail but more often you will need to be a trail blazer on steep slopes. Dress accordingly. It is a good idea to bring a basket, mesh bag, or anything breathable. In a plastic bag the morels will quickly become soft and slimy. Store your morel harvest in the fridge in a paper bag or wrapped gently in wax paper to keep them from drying out.

Crab Stuffed Morels

Crab stuffed morels

I think of morels as a gateway mushroom to becoming a fungal forager, because they are so delicious and easy to identify. Nothing inedible looks quite like them. While morels have a honeycomb appearance false morels look more brain-like. To be absolutely sure you found a real morel, cut one in half. Morels have a completely hollow open inner chamber, perfect for stuffing with crab dip or other yummy goodness! After your dissection, look closely and you will notice that there are no gills like the grocery store mushrooms. No gills, honeycomb, hollow inner chamber, cap is attached to the stem, growing out of the ground and fruiting in the Spring are some of the rules to identify a morel. If you find what looks like a morel and it isn't early to mid-spring, it isn't a morel.

If you can't find any on your own. Keep an eye on our website for when we have fresh morels in the store. You can also try growing them in your yard using our new morel kits! Local pickers, like our friend Whitey, offer guided mushroom forays http://www.thefungiforager.com/

Please don't try to identify foraged wild mushrooms just based on this newsletter! 

Consult a more comprehensive source like these:

Arora, D. (1986). Mushrooms Demystified. Berkeley, California, Ten Speed Press.

Kuo, M. "The Mushroom Expert." 2013, from http://www.mushroomexpert.com/boletus.html

Kuo, M. (2005). Morels. Ann Arbor, Michigan, The University of Michigan Press.

Lincoff, G. and T. Laessoe (2002). Smithsonian Handbooks Mushrooms. New York, New York, A Dorling Kindersley Book.

Lincoff, G. and C. Nehring (1981). National Audubon Society, Field Guide to Mushrooms: North America. New York, Alfred A. Knopf.

Lockwood, T. (2009). The Good, the Bad and the Deadly, DVD.

Lockwood, T. (2009). The Mushroom Identification Trilogy, DVD.

Lonik, L. (2012). The Curious Morel. Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania, Stackpole Books.

Schwab, A. (2006). Mushrooming without fear: The beginner's guide to collecting safe and delicious mushrooms. New York, New York, Skyhorse Publishing.



​A Mushroom a Day Keeps the Dentist and Cardiologist Away

Coming to a store near you… mushroom cookies!

In the last few years, several mushroom extracts have been patented for use in “dental health foods” (Kato, Kikuchi et al.; Nam ; Sekiya, Konda et al.) Imagine eating all the confections you want and never getting a cavity because the cookies are laced with mushrooms. Not only will mushrooms make cookies tooth-friendly, they also can be added to any other refined carbohydrates, which are so bad for our teeth. Yay, science!

Cavities and gingivitis start off as a microbial community embedded in an organized matrix of bacteria, food and your own saliva, forming a biofilm. Your mouth is a delicate balance of hundreds of “good” and “bad” bacteria. Most of these microbial inhabitants are harmless, but certain drinks (sodas and fruit juices) and foods (processed sugars and starches) can shift the balance in favor of the few bad bacteria that form biofilms, which can lead to cavities or gingivitis. Biofilms actually change the environment on the surface of your teeth, making it a home where bad bacteria like Streptococci or Neisseria can thrive and dig into your tooth enamel and gums.

Biofilms are nothing new to dentistry. Back in the 17 th century, Antonie van Leeuwenhoek, “the father of microbiology,” first used a microscope to see aggregates of bacteria he’d scraped off his teeth (Chandki, Banthia et al. 2011). But only recently has it come to light that biofilms have other effects on our health.

Bacteria in biofilms are now thought to cause up to 65 percent of human infections. In an impenetrable biofilm, the inaccessibility of the bacteria makes them more resistant to the immune system and antibiotics (Samaranayke 2006). Several systemic diseases, including cardiovascular disease and diabetes, are thought to be linked to gingivitis biofilms (Li, Kolltveit et al. 2000; Leishman, Do et al. 2010). Studies have revealed coronary artery plaques that contain some of the same species of bacteria as periodontal biofilms (Gaetti-Jardim, Marcelino et al. 2009; Ohki, Itabashi et al. 2012; Armingohar, Jørgensen et al. 2014).

Most biofilms can be easily removed with good dental hygiene. Even so, people who brush their teeth regularly still get cavities and gingivitis. That’s because the biofilms can calcify, making them difficult to remove.

Strong mouthwash can kill most bacteria, which means it can also throw off the balance of good bacteria, leaving your mouth an empty niche where bad bacteria can easily move in and start up a biofilm residence. Functional foods like mushrooms, on the other hand, can kill the bad bacteria and remove biofilms while leaving the good bacteria (Ciric, Tymon et al. 2011).

Biofilms can form on almost any surface, including deep in soil. So it would make sense that fungi, which live in soil, have evolved mechanisms to kill pathogens while preserving good bacteria.

In studies, several mushrooms have been shown to prevent bacterial adhesion, biofilms, cavities, periodontal disease and inflammation.  Those include lion's mane, pearl oyster, shiitake and reishi (Signoretto, Burlacchini et al. 2011; Signoretto, Marchi et al. 2014; Sekiya, Konda et al. ; Zaura, Buijs et al. 2011) . All varieties that can be easily grown on kits. So if you want to stay healthy, you can start by regularly eating mushrooms.

Armingohar, Z., J. J. Jørgensen, et al. (2014). "Bacteria and bacterial DNA in atherosclerotic plaque and aneurysmal wall biopsies from patients with and without periodontitis." Journal of Oral Microbiology 6: 10.3402/jom.v3406.23408.

Chandki, R., P. Banthia, et al. (2011). "Biofilms: A microbial home." Journal of Indian Society of Periodontology 15(2): 111-114.

Ciric, L., A. Tymon, et al. (2011). "In Vitro Assessment of Shiitake Mushroom (Lentinula edodes) Extract for Its Antigingivitis Activity." Journal of Biomedicine and Biotechnology .

Gaetti-Jardim, E., S. L. Marcelino, et al. (2009). "Quantitative detection of periodontopathic bacteria in atherosclerotic plaques from coronary arteries." Journal of Medical Microbiology 58(12): 1568-1575.

Kato, H., A. Kikuchi, et al. Dental caries prevention composition e.g. for foodstuff comprises water soluble extraction component derived from mushroom as active ingredient, IWATE KEN (IWAT-Non-standard) UNIV IWATE MEDICAL (UYIW-Non-standard) : 12.

Leishman, S. J., H. L. Do, et al. (2010). "Cardiovascular disease and the role of oral bacteria." Journal of Oral Microbiology 2: 10.3402/jom.v3402i3400.5781.

Li, X., K. M. Kolltveit, et al. (2000). "Systemic Diseases Caused by Oral Infection." Clinical Microbiology Reviews 13(4): 547-558.

Nam, J. W. Composition of powder dentifrice agent for preventing dental plague, is obtained by blending bamboo salt, wheat flour, rosin, nelumbinis-fructus meat, Asiasarum roots and enokitake mushroom, NAM J W (NAMJ-Individual) : 14.

Ohki, T., Y. Itabashi, et al. (2012). "Detection of periodontal bacteria in thrombi of patients with acute myocardial infarction by polymerase chain reaction." American Heart Journal 163(2): 164-167.

Samaranayke, L. P. (2006). Microbiology for Dentistry, Elsevier Health Sciences.

Sekiya, A., H. Konda, et al. Agent used in composition for oral cavity or food-drink product for treating bacterial infection e.g. dental caries, comprises water and/or organic solvent extract of Ascomycetes or Basidiomycetes e.g. oyster mushroom, Lotte Co Ltd (Lott-C) : 21.

Signoretto, C., G. Burlacchini, et al. (2011). "Testing a low molecular mass fraction of a mushroom ( Lentinus edodes) extract formulated as an oral rinse in a cohort of volunteers." Journal of Biomedicine & Biotechnology 2011: Article ID 857987.

Signoretto, C., A. Marchi, et al. (2014). "The anti-adhesive mode of action of a purified mushroom (Lentinus edodes) extract with anticaries and antigingivitis properties in two oral bacterial pathogens." Bmc Complementary and Alternative Medicine 14.

Zaura, E., M. J. Buijs, et al. (2011). "The Effects of Fractions from Shiitake Mushroom on Composition and Cariogenicity of Dental Plaque Microcosms in an In Vitro Caries Model." Journal of Biomedicine and Biotechnology .



​Cream of Mushroom and Greens Soup

A gluten free and vegetarian recipe

Most winters here in Tennessee, the greens in the garden last all winter long. So I'm always looking for a warm, hearty, and healthy greens recipe. I tried making this soup a couple of different ways while always tasty, it kept breaking. The key is to bring the soup to a boil early after you add the broth so that the soup will thicken. Then let the soup cool down before you add the milk, and keep the temperature low afterward.

I didn't add celery and herbs, because I wanted the greens and their unique flavor to stand out. I do add garlic at almost every step--at the end of saute of the veggies and mushrooms, while the soup is simmering, and when it is almost finished. I end up using more than a head of garlic. To me, soup is the perfect vehicle for lots of garlic and just a little red pepper- especially if you aren't feeling well. But the garlic and red pepper flakes can be omitted if it isn't your taste.

My uncle used to snack on Parmesan Cheese rinds, and he got me into the habit. It is kind of like chewing cheese gum. Later, I learned to save the rinds to flavor soups. You can prepare this soup either way. Put the rinds in whole and take them out after the soup is done, or cut the rind into chunks.  As the soup cooks, they soften and end up as tasty nuggets. Either way, the cheese gives the soup a wonderful flavor.

I use homemade or low sodium broth, and add salt to the veggies and mushrooms. Be careful not to add to much if your broth is already salted.

You will need:

  • 3/4 cup Olive Oil or Butter
  • 1 Large Onion
  • 2 Carrots
  • 1 Pound Mushrooms
  • Garlic
  • Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
  • 3/4 cup Brown Rice Flour
  • 1 and 1/2 cup White Wine or Sherry
  • 64 oz Broth or Stock
  • 12 large Leaves of Greens (Kale, Collards, Turnip, and/or Mustard)
  • Rind from a Big Hunk of Parmesan Cheese
  • 1/4 gallon Milk
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Preparation:

Dice carrots and onions finely. You want them to add flavor to the soup, but you want the mushrooms and the greens to be the star flavor nuggets in this dish. In your stock pot, saute veggies in 4 tablespoons of olive oil or butter until onions are translucent. Add garlic, red pepper flakes and salt; continue to cook for a few minutes. Add 4 tablespoons of flour, and cook for another few minutes while constantly stirring and scraping the bottom. Deglaze the pan with white wine or sherry, and stir for another few minutes until the alcohol cooks off. Then, stir in half of the broth and let it come to a simmer. Stir soup occasionally while it continues to simmer; and add more garlic if desired.
So the pan doesn't get too crowded, I add the mushrooms in at least two batches. Saute each batch of mushrooms in 4 tablespoons of butter or olive oil on medium low, and add a little salt and garlic towards the end of cooking
As described above for the carrots and onions, stir in 4T of flour, then broth. Transfer the mixture to the simmering soup.
Remove tough stems from greens and roll into a large cigar shape, slice leaves crosswise into ribbons. Cut Parmesan cheese rind into small cubes.
Add them to the soup and cook greens to desired consistency. If desired, add more minced garlic.
Turn down heat, allow to cool then add milk. Salt and pepper to taste.


Making a simple mushroom grow chamber

So you have inoculated sterilized pf jars with cultures, and they are nice and fully colonized.

The next step will be to prepare an environment for your cakes to pin, grow, and mature into nice, yummy mushrooms! Mushrooms need light, warmth, good air exchange, and humidity in order to flourish. This can be accomplished with humidity tents and misting, but a chamber works better.

You will need the following materials:

  • A clear storage bin with clear cover
  • 1-2 gallon bags of Perlite
  • Plenty of distilled water
  • A fine-misting spray bottle
  • A drill and 1/4" to 1/2" drill bits
  • Gloves or hand sanitizer

Growth Chamber Preparation:

  1. For air exchange drill 4 to 5, 1/4" to 1/2" holes on each side of the clear storage bin.
  2. Wash the bin thoroughly-allow it to dry out.
  3. In order to maintain moisture inside the bin, pour 1-2 gallon bags of perlite on the bottom of the bin, and add water until it is completely absorbed.
  4. Drain any extra water from the perlite, so that it's barely dripping at all. There should be about 2-3 inches of this in the bottom of your chamber. This will provide your mushrooms with plenty of moisture, which is good for the cake method, and is very resistant to contamination.

Find a good home for the growth chamber.

Mushrooms do best in aroom with some light but not direct sunlight. It is best to have a room with the temperatures in the low to mid seventies with good air exchange that doesn't get musty or too dirty. You want it to be a convenient place so you can mist your mushrooms daily.

Prepare for the birth! - Always wash your hands, use hand sanitizer or gloves when handling spawn to reduce contamination.

  1. Carefully unscrew jars, discarding the bands while retaining the lids.
  2. Gently loosen the lid but leave it on top of the jar.
  3. Tap the glass bottom of the jar until the cake is loose enough to come out. Carefully remove the cake/lid combo on the palm of you hand and set it lid side down in the chamber. If some mycelium sticks to the jar, or if the top of the cake is discolored yellow, that is fine. Sometimes, mushrooms have begun to pin inside the cake, which is also perfectly fine. They are just ready to grow!
  4. Repeat with remaining cakes being sure to space them a few inches away from the sides of the chamber and each other. Once mushrooms start to grow, they'll need all that room!

You will still need to fan your chamber for air exchange (using the storage bin cover), and mist your cakes no more than twice a day with distilled water. However, you do not want to over mist, because this could mold your cakes! Use a fine mist for the best results. Hold the bottle away from and above the cakes, enough so that you see only very fine water particles all over your cakes. If you see water puddling up on your cakes, that is too much! They only need enough to dampen the cakes, and your perlite chamber will do the rest of the work. You should also mist the lid of your container. A good way to tell if you have too much humidity in your chamber, is if your lid is dripping water down to your cakes. In this case, you should wipe the water off the lid and remove a little bit of the perlite at the bottom.

In general, temperatures in the low to mid-70's and 35% humidity is ideal for the room. We recommend using a digital thermometer to maintain consistent temperatures. However, you should maintain your chamber for the type of mushroom inside. Oysters will need different humidity and temperatures than cold weather Shiitake, for example. Check on our website for temperature information on each species.

If the room is stuffy, try adding a fan blowing indirectly in the room. Without proper air exchange, you will only get a few tiny, quick-drying mushrooms. The trick is having plenty of air exchange while keeping the humidity high enough that your cakes do not dry up! Remember to avoid touching your cakes at all times, even when harvesting mushrooms, to avoid contamination. Continue misting your cakes after harvesting each flush to get as many flushes as possible!

In the colder months adding a humidifier to the room, and a heater will help maintain consistent humidity and temperature. The most important thing to remember is too much moisture will mold your cakes before they can fruit, too little and they will dry up and die!

With proper care, your chamber will last indefinitely. Just clean it out and replace the perlite once it becomes discolored.



You got a Mushroom kit for Christmas, Grew the Mushrooms, Now What?

Baked Ricotta and Mushroom Appetizer

Vegetarian and Gluten Free (A Mom inspired recipe )

Last week I served some lasagna to my extended family. At the base was my Mom's original lasagna recipe, with some additions, including mushrooms, of course. She liked it so much she suggested I should publish the recipe on my blog. Rather than a large time-consuming lasagna recipe, I thought I would combine it with a recipe my mom cut out and sent to me from the October 25, 2014 issue of the Wall Street Journal "Broiled Ricotta Cheese With Brown-Butter Mushrooms" All of the Everything Mushroom kits provide enough mushrooms for the sauteed mushroom crown.

Ricotta Cheese Base:

16oz fresh whole milk ricotta

2 large eggs well beaten

1/4c grated parmigiana

1/4c grated mozzarella

1 garlic clove minced

1T parsley leaves finely chopped

1/4c sun dried tomatoes reconstituted and chopped

pinch of salt and pepper

Mushroom Topping:

Mushrooms (plucked straight from an Everything Mushrooms kit)

Butter

A few ramps or 1 shallot thinly sliced

Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. If ricotta is watery, drain in a colander lined with a clean linen towel or cheese cloth for a half hour or more.
  2. Preheat oven to 400°F
  3. In a medium bowl whip eggs, salt and pepper with an electric mixer or whisk, add ricotta cheese and continue to whip until well mixed. 

  4. Fold in remainder of cheese base ingredients. 

  5. Transfer cheese mixture to an oiled baking dish. Ideally you want the cheese to be an inch or less thick to start off. Cheese base will puff as is bakes, so choose a dish that can accommodate another half inch for puffing and toppings. Pictured here is a 9-inch round dish. 

  6. Bake for about 30 minutes or until golden brown on top; time will depend on how watery your ricotta is and the size of the dish.
  7. While baking, harvest mushrooms (pictured here is shiitake). However, any mushrooms will work. Cut into bite-size chunks. 

  8. Sauteé mushrooms on low in butter with salt and pepper. When mushrooms are nearing the end of cooking (most water has evaporated), add the sliced shallot or ramps and continue to cook until everything is nicely browned.  

  9. Top cheese base with sauteed mushrooms and serve with crusty bread slices, pita wedges or crackers. 

I intentionally left the amount of butter for the mushrooms up to you. In the original recipe it calls for a stick of butter, browned then mixed with a couple tablespoons of balsamic vinegar, to become a sauce. With the cheese, it was all a little too heavy for me. I just used a tablespoon of butter to brown the mushrooms. À chacun son goût ( to each his own )!

Thank you to Greg Denton and Gabrielle Quinonez Denton for inspiration for this recipe, and to Kitty Greenwald for writing the article. And a special Thanks to Mom for all your encouragement! 



When is the best time to plug logs, and other nitty-gritty on mushroom log cultivation

The best time of the year to plug logs, at least here in East Tennessee, is February and March because of the weather and the sap run. Logs we have plugged this time of year have produced mushrooms in 4-5 months. However we have had success plugging logs all year just as long as logs are recently cut (within the month) from a disease free tree.

With careful management, each log should produce around 2 pounds of mushrooms over its lifetime, but uncontrollable factors such as wind, temperature and humidity will effect yields. Expect mushrooms within one year, total productive life of log can be 4-6 years.

temporary-stacking-of-logs-in-snow.jpg

Weather: February and March typical average temperatures of 50°F will support mycelium growth while keeping in check the growth of other organisms. Competing organisms like bacteria prefer higher temperatures (Oei, 2003). Even if the temperatures plummet the cold won't kill the mycelium. They won't be actively growing below 32°F, but they won't die back. In addition, the high incidence of rainfall during the late winter and spring is key for keeping the mycelium happy and growing.

Sap: In the fall, life essential juices are sucked from the leaves and shipped to the roots for winter storage. In the late winter and early spring the roots return nutrients up to the tops of the trees to facilitate the production of new leaves. These readily available sugars and minerals will feed happy mushroom mycelium.

Logs: Use recently cut hardwood logs (white oak, red oak, poplar, maple, birch, beech, etc.) 4-6 inches in diameter and 2-3 feet in length. The logs can be bigger, it is what you feel comfortable moving around, especially if you plan to soak logs every few months. Avoid evergreen hardwoods (magnolia), evergreen conifers (fir, cedar, pine, etc.) and walnut, black locust and cherry.

Don't use logs that have been outside for longer than a month, or those with excessive damage to the bark. Logs that have been outside for sometime are likely to be colonized with a native fungus. Bark damage will inhibit mushroom growth due to water loss. 

A few mushrooms, including Phoenix oyster, will grow on evergreen logs. All the same avoid strong smelling evergreens like Cedar; the strong smelling compounds (think turpentine) are designed to fight off potential pathogens like mushroom fungus.

Plugs are small wooden dowels colonized with mycelium, the mushroom’s “root” network. Available in a wide variety of species, plugs are raised in sterile, temperature- and humidity-controlled conditions to ensure their viability. For novices we recommend shiitake plugs, these grow best on white and red oak but can be grown on most hardwoods.

Inoculating logs: Drill holes with a 5/16th drill bit, spaced 4-5 inches apart and 1+ inch deep along the log, add staggered rows 1-2 inches apart. Inoculate near branching twigs and add extra holes about one inch from ends of the log to establish a strong spawn run where contamination is most likely to enter. Hammer plugs into holes to be flush with the surface. Cover holes with melted cheese wax to protect plugs and keep them from drying out. Some growers also elect to cover the exposed ends of the logs with wax, but this may not be necessary.

Alternatively you can also counter sink the plugs with a punch. This allows for a nice wax reservoir. The purpose of leaving the plugs flush allows for maximum contact with the active vascular tissue. The active phloem is the dark layer right under the bark and the xylum layer is under that, this is where the sap and nutrients are shuttled to bring nutrients to living cells in the tree.

Temporary laying: After inoculation logs should be stacked like firewood on a hard surface where it is shady and receives precipitation. Stacking in a close horizontal pile keeps the humidity at the log surface. If you live in an area with low humidity/precipitation logs can be watered and covered with plastic to keep humidity high. After 1 to 2 months logs should be separated so that mold won't move in and take over.

Permanent laying: Find a shaded, damp area sheltered from the wind. The log will need to receive rainfall unless you are regularly soaking it. A north-facing wall out of the wind is a good place, alternatively under a shady tree. Slugs can also be a problem - you may need to bring the log in to a slug free area while it is fruiting. The most important thing is to put the log somewhere easy to see! Log cultivation requires patience and mushrooms appear suddenly without warning so the easier it is to check on them the better.

Stack logs in a lean to or log cabin style so that air can freely circulate over most of the surface of the logs. Logs should not be in contact with the bare ground where competing fungi lurk waiting to move in on your yummy log. Pavers or bricks work well as barriers.

Logs should be kept in a shady area where precipitation is not impeded. Excessive drying of logs should be avoided, I tell folks who come into our store that if we have a drought for a few weeks and you are watering your perennial plants, then it is a good idea to soak you logs. 

If you are so lucky to have access to a stream or the entrance of a cave, these are great places to keep mushroom logs.

Initiating flush: When the spawn run is complete, the logs are ready to fruit. Shock the logs to initiate fruiting by knocking one end of the log sharply on hard ground and totally immersing it in cool or cold water for 24-48 hours. The water should be non-chlorinated, rainwater or tap water left to stand overnight. Place the log in a sheltered, shady spot and lightly cover with plastic to increase humidity. Logs should start fruiting within 1 - 3 weeks, forming in 'flushes'. Remove the plastic cover once fruiting has started.

Cut the mushrooms off the log when the cap is 3 - 4 inches across, after 4 - 8 days of growing (they'll grow quicker in warmer temperatures). It's important to cut them off the log rather than picking them - this could reduce the chances for more mushrooms. Trim off the tough stalks before cooking and eating.

Resting Logs: After picking the mushrooms leave the log outside in a damp place for four to six weeks to rest, then soak the log to start the second fruiting flush. Frost and snow are no problem. This resting period is for the mycelium to extract more nutrients from the log for more shiitake mushrooms.

Whims of Nature Log Cultivation: It is also possible to simply leave the log outside in a shady place and it will fruit when the outside temperature is warm and wet. This is the easiest way of growing mushrooms, but not so productive and predictable! The log should fruit for up to six years. During periods of prolonged dryness or drought, periodic overnight soaking may be needed.

Log Invaders: While some competitors will diminish or overtake your edible mushroom harvest other organisms can live in harmony and your log will produce normal crops. Some of the “harmonious invaders” are actually indicators that the environmental conditions for mushroom growth are favorable. A couple positive indicators are the little black jelly like cup fungi Black Bulgar (Bulgari iniquans) and the scaly light green/white Lichens. While being a positive indicator of environmental conditions the striped turkey tail polypore (Trametes versicolor) will diminish or overtake your intended crop. On the positive side turkey tails is a chewy edible that has well documented medicinal qualities including enhancement of the immune system. The forest-green fungus Trichoderma or Diatrype stigma, a pearly-gray turning-to-black bark-blowoff disease, often appear when logs are too wet and there is poor air circulation. Logs that show signs of Trichoderma or Diatrype should be removed from your mushroom log stack immediately and cleaned with rubbing alcohol.

Have no fear, Black Bulgar and Lichens appear on your logs

Reference

Oei, P. Mushroom Cultivation: Appropriate Technology for Mushroom Growers. Mushroom Cultivation: Appropriate Technology for Mushroom Growers. edited by P. Oei 2003.

originally posted February 19, 2013



Inoculating PF jars with Everything Mushrooms 10cc culture syringes

Some think inoculation is a complicated process, but you don't need a hood or any fancy equipment for inoculation of jars. Just have a little respect for the task and the level of cleanliness it requires. Really much more time and care is spent preparing the jars themselves than actually inoculating them.

Start by choosing a work surface where you feel comfortable working, a kitchen counter or table works well. The most important thing is that it is a clean area free of dirt, dust and direct air flow from a vent. It also won't hurt to take a shower and put on clean clothes.

Read through and understand the directions before you start inoculations. It is important not to be in a rush, but to work quickly and mindfully. Take time to look at how the jars are handled in the photos, trying not to spend too much time lingering with your arms and hands over the uncovered jars. Do not touch ANYTHING that is going to into the jar; this includes the end of the needle, the luer lock hub on the needle, and the syringe.

Assemble tools:
  • Culture syringe
  • Needle and sterile alcohol wipe (included with syringe purchase)
  • PF jars (4-6)
  • Surgical gloves
  • Labeling marker
  • Paper towels and disinfectant for cleaning
  • Rubbing alcohol

Directions:
  1. Wipe down the surface and clean gloved hands with 70% alcohol, freshly made 10% bleach solution (freshly made is important as bleach looses it's potency with time) or other disinfectant like Lysol.
  2. Label jars with mushroom name and date of inoculation.

    Labeled Mediterranean oyster jars with day and month

  3. Delicately remove labels and set aside sticky side up or on the edge of a clean surface.
  4. Wipe the lid of the jars with the sterile alcohol prep pad.
  5. Carefully unwrap luer lock needle, and hold in one hand.
  6. While holding needle in one hand, remove blue cap (or white cap) on syringe by twisting counter clockwise.
  7. Attach luer lock needle to culture syringe by gently pressing the needle onto the syringe’s Luer Lock termination, and rotate syringe clockwise to engage the locking threads.
  8. Remove the needle sheath.
  9. Insert needle into jar, and inject a small amount of culture into substrate  Repeat this procedure in remaining holes for all 6 jars. It takes some practice getting only a small amount into each hole, so take a deep breath and don't worry if you inject too much into one jar. More culture fluid in one jar will just make it grow faster.
  10. Carefully re-sheath needle for disposal in a sharps container. (This may be purchased online.)
  11. Optional step- wipe jar lids with alcohol pad.
  12. Reseal jars with labels or tape.
  13. Incubate in a warm space away from direct sunlight. The top of a fridge or PC tower work well. In two or three weeks, you should see the jars colonized with white mycelium.

    Mediterranean oyster mycelium colonized the cake after two weeks.

While novice growers should follow each step above, some of the steps are optional. I have inoculated jars without wiping down the surface with a disinfectant, just wet paper towels, and then give the surface time to dry. I have even gone without gloves with good results. It is more important that you are careful about not touching surfaces and to work quickly.

After you have some experience and success, don't get too comfortable or sloppy. For example, don't inoculate jars after turning over the compost pile or working in the garden without a shower. You cannot get away with inoculate outside or in a room that is dirty. Always work carefully in sanitary conditions, and you will have a variety of mushrooms growing within a month!

One week after birthing the PF cake, the mediterranean oysters are pinning!

Check back soon to learn how to make an inexpensive grow chamber!



Vitamin D - The Sunshiny, Happy Vitamin

If you suffer from the winter blues, increasing the vitamin D in your diet may be the answer to your blahs.

Your skin makes vitamin D when it is exposed to sunshine. In the winter, when the days are short and most of us are stuck inside (and covered in heavy clothing when we do venture outdoors), it’s hard to get enough sun exposure to make adequate amounts of vitamin D. So it stands to reason that low vitamin D levels might play a role in Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).

Recent studies have found lower vitamin D levels in depressed [1&91; and obese individuals [2&91;, suggesting a direct relationship with SAD. Low vitamin D has also been linked to immune system dysfunction and inflammation [3&91;. There is hope, vitamin D supplements have been shown to play a therapeutic role in obesity-associated inflammation and weight loss. [4&91; Scientists are just beginning to understand the interrelationship between the immune system, inflammation and depression [5-8&91;. For instance, illness can lead to inflammation, which can lead to depression—and what’s worse, the cycle can work in any direction, causing a rapid downward spiral.

For example, a little case of the winter blahs, left untreated, can turn into a physical illness that keeps you inside. Being stuck inside means you get less exercise, less vitamin D and less human interaction, further compounding depression, weight gain and inflammation. So it’s best to take measures to curb depression early on, before you get caught in a whirlpool.

With vitamin D, as with almost all vitamins, natural food sources are the best. In fact, this is especially true of vitamin D. Supplements made from plant- or yeast-based vitamin D2 differ from the vitamin D3 made naturally in your skin. Studies have shown that D2 converts to the active form in your body much more slowly than does vitamin D3. Natural sources of vitamin D3 include eggs, fish, beef liver and mushrooms. In the United States, most fortified consumer products, such as tofu, orange juice and cereals, contain vitamin D2.

Mushrooms, both sun-dried and fresh UV irradiated, are a healthy source of vitamin D2 and D3. Interestingly, mushrooms make vitamin D3 when they’re exposed to the UV rays of the sun, just as humans and other animals do but in addition they make D2 and D4. So placing mushrooms outdoors to grow or to dry for a several hours will actually boost their vitamin D levels [9, 10&91;. A recent study has shown sundried mushrooms can be an important part of a vegan diet in maintaining healthy levels of vitamin D [11&91;.

Here at Everything Mushrooms, we supply  mushroom logs and plugs for growing mushrooms outdoors, along with  kits for the very freshest mushrooms. Drying these mushrooms outdoors will increase their umami flavor and their vitamin D3 levels. Vitamin D is fat soluble, so don’t be afraid to cook mushrooms (which don’t have any natural fat or cholesterol) in olive oil or a little butter.

We still need more research to fully understand vitamin D and its uses [12&91;. Right now, there isn’t even a reliable test to find out if your vitamin D levels are low [13&91;. But what we do know about vitamin D indicates that simply eating more mushrooms could make you happier and healthier.

True, this simple fix hasn’t received much attention from researchers, since it won’t yield a new, expensive product for a pharmaceutical company to peddle. But even without the hard data, it’s worth a try. After all, when is the last time you were given an option to treat depression with something that has no side effects and could benefit your health?

Sun-drying Mushrooms for increased vitamin D:

  1. Check the weather. Ideally, you want a warm to hot forecast of sunny, mostly sunny or partly cloudy with no chance of rain for a couple days.
  2. Gather and dust off mushrooms for drying. Pictured here are log grown shiitake and wild lobster mushrooms. Any fleshy mushroom will work well. Mushrooms that are high in water content like oysters will work but you won't be left with much after the drying process.
  3. Slice mushrooms about 1/4 inch thick.
  4. Lay mushrooms on baking sheets or racks with or without parchment paper, don't overlap.
  5. Place in sun during daylight hours. Cover mushrooms or bring them inside overnight. Two days in the sun is enough to boost vitamin D but not usually enough to completely dry mushrooms. Mushrooms should snap when bent, if mushrooms are even slightly rubbery finish in oven or dehydrator.
  6. Finish drying mushrooms in a dehydrator or an oven on low. A sun oven works great for dehydrating, leave the door slightly ajar so the moisture can escape. Set a conventional oven at 200°F for one hour, leave the mushrooms in the warm oven overnight to continue drying.
  7. Store in an airtight container. Dried mushrooms will retain vitamin D and flavor for about a year.
  8. Re-hydrate by soaking in water and enjoy in your favorite mushroom recipes.


Stay tuned for a winter hardy dried shiitake and lobster mushroom recipe!


1. Kerr, D.C.R., et al., Associations between vitamin D levels and depressive symptoms in healthy young adult women. Psychiatry Research, 2015. 227(1): p. 46-51.

2. Grace, C., R.P. Vincent, and S.J. Aylwin, High prevalence of vitamin D insufficiency in a United Kingdom urban morbidly obese population: Implications for testing and treatment. Surgery for Obesity and Related Diseases, 2014. 10(2): p. 355-360.

3. Kroner, J.D., A. Sommer, and M. Fabri, Vitamin D Every Day to Keep the Infection Away? Nutrients, 2015. 7(6): p. 4170-4188.

4. Slusher, A.L., M.J. McAllister, and C.J. Huang, A therapeutic role for vitamin D on obesity-associated inflammation and weight-loss intervention. Inflammation Research, 2015. 64(8): p. 565-575.

5. Furtado, M. and M.A. Katzman, Examining the role of neuroinflammation in major depression. Psychiatry Research, 2015. 229(1-2): p. 27-36.

6. Louati, K. and F. Berenbaum, Fatigue in chronic inflammation - a link to pain pathways. Arthritis Research & Therapy, 2015. 17.

7. Allison, D.J. and D.S. Ditor, The common inflammatory etiology of depression and cognitive impairment: a therapeutic target. Journal of Neuroinflammation, 2014. 11.

8. Berk, M., et al., So depression is an inflammatory disease, but where does the inflammation come from? Bmc Medicine, 2013. 11.

9. Williams, J., Z.R. Lu, and M.F. Holick, Mushrooms not only Produce Vitamin D2 but can also Produce Vitamin D3 and Vitamin D4. Faseb Journal, 2013. 27.

10. Keegan, R.-J.H., et al., Photobiology of vitamin D in mushrooms and its bioavailability in humans. Dermato-endocrinology, 2013. 5(1): p. 165-76.

11. Schwarz, J., et al., The influence of a whole food vegan diet with Nori algae and wild mushrooms on selected blood parameters. Clin Lab, 2014. 60(12): p. 2039-50.

12. Parker, G. and H. Brotchie, 'D' for depression: any role for vitamin D? 'Food for Thought' II. Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica, 2011. 124(4): p. 243-249.

13. Picciano, M.F., Vitamin D Status and Health. Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition, 2010. 50: p. 24-25.



Mushrooms in Your “Cuppa”

Delicious and refreshing.

This time of year I often find myself craving a cold flavored beverage. Rather than reaching for soft-drinks, teas, or juice, I skip the calories and caffeine by drinking mushroom tea. Whether it is plain chaga or reishi tea embellished with mint and lemon balm from my garden I try to keep a batch cold in the fridge all summer long.

Of course you don't need to drink the tea cold. Warm is wonderful as well. My friend Maria Kateri McGuire, LMT- Healing Artist says it best, “Lingering over a warm cup of chaga or reishi tea can help infuse an anxious body with a sense of calm and renewed purpose. It allows you to replenish your vital force and is good for your Chi. Learn to allow the tea to carry you away from preoccupations.”

In Asia and Eastern Europe mushroom teas have been used for centuries as remedies for almost every ailment known to man. Chaga ( Inonotus obliquus) and reishi (Ganoderma lucidum) are a couple of the most widely used and well studied medicinal mushroom teas. Not only may these teas heal but the generations of use have demonstrated that these teas when used in moderation have little or no adverse side effects.

Chaga

Long recognized for its anti-tumor properties, chaga was made popular to the western world by the Russian Nobel laureate Alexander Solzhenitsyn in the publication of his book “ the Cancer Ward” in 1969. Recent studies have shown it can inhibit tumor growth in breast, ovarian, testicular and colon cancers. Other research suggests that it is a strong anti-oxidant, immuno-stimulant, and can be effective at treating viruses. Chaga is also being explored as a possible treatment for a wide variety of diseases including chronic fatigue syndrome, diabetes, gastritis, ulcers, cardiovascular and liver disease.

Chaga mushroom grows exclusively on birch trees which give the tea a lovely hint of birch Flavor. Chunks of Chaga can be steeped in a crock pot on low for days giving a ready supply of delicious tea. At everything mushrooms we keep our brewing continually, everyone is welcome to come have a leisurely talk while enjoying some Chaga Tea, we run out of cups all the time so bring your own.

Tea can also be prepared from ground chaga short order by steeping in hot water in a french press or tea ball. Chaga can be enjoyed hot or cold, drink plain or enhance the natural flavors with honey or lime.

Reishi Tea

In China, reishi is known as the the mushroom of immortality, believed to improve mind and memory and retain youth. Recent studies have reported reishi is an anti-inflammatory and can be used to treat a plethora of diseases that have inflammation at their root including osteo-arthritus, gout, rheumatism, allergies, asthma, and cardiovascular disease. Other studies support its use for various conditions including hypertension and hypothyroidism, migraines, cholesterol reduction and regulation of the immune system.

Reishi Tea can be broken into pieces or ground in a coffee grinder steeped in a hot water using a french press or tea ball. The taste of reishi is somewhat bitter, it is made more palatable by steeping with another tea. Many teas work well but my favorites are peppermint or black tea with a little milk and honey.

While not everyone will agree with the healing effects of mushroom teas, most experts will agree that drinking tea to distract you from grabbing a snack or a soft drink will have numerous health benefits including weight loss. Only recently in combination with drugs have any side effects been found with these teas. Constituents of chaga and reishi mushroom extract may magnify the effects of blood thinners. Chaga can also lower blood sugar so it could interact with diabetic medicines like insulin. Ask your doctor about possible reactions with any anticoagulant and anti-diabetic drugs before enjoying these teas.



Cathy's Lab: Mother Nature High-Five

Eating Mushrooms Makes Mother Nature Happy.
Simple things like recycling, eating local, and eating less meat do more for the environment than you might realize. Lets face it: making big life changes is rarely easy, and those are the changes most often dropped by the wayside. If you want to improve your health and the environment, it is more reasonable to make several small changes over time. Here’s an easy change that can pay big dividends for Mother Nature: eat more specialty mushrooms, like shiitake, oyster and Lion’s Mane.

Nature’s Recyclers
You see, mushrooms are nature’s recyclers. Specialty mushrooms grow on waste from crops, forestry, and paper and food processing. This is waste that would normally rot and produce carbon dioxide (a greenhouse gas) through microbial action, or be bagged and thrown in the landfill. When mushrooms are grown on this waste, what remains (mycelium) can be used as a fertilizer or feed that can improve the sustainability of small farms. Using mycelium as a fertilizer has been shown to increase crop yields and decrease pests and disease. Mycelium straw is also more digestible than straw alone, and it has been shown to boost the immune system of animals. As with most recycling, buying “mushroom-recycled” goods not only keeps waste out of a landfill, but it also creates an infrastructure and a market that can keep that kind of waste out of landfills for … well, forever.

Mushrooms can grow on farm, forest, paper and burlap waste.


Perfect Farm Food
Mushrooms are best when eaten fresh and don’t travel well unless dried, so they are a natural fit for local farmers. Consuming locally grown food obviously saves on gas and reduces greenhouse effects, as the food isn’t shipped to or from faraway lands. In some places, the locavore movement is actually slowing urban sprawl and creating more green space, because land has value for more than just home sites and since mushrooms can be grown right on the farm using waste products, they can play a large role in ecological farming practices.

Send Meat Packing

Specialty mushrooms can replace the protein on your plate. These beauties come from nature rich in umami flavor, full of nutrition and ready to satisfy. Relinquishing meat even occasionally not only keeps animals out of the slaughterhouse but can also have a positive effect on climate change. Here’s a recommendation from head of the United Nations’ Nobel-prizewinning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change: “In terms of immediacy of action and the feasibility of bringing about reductions in a short period of time, (giving up meat) clearly is the most attractive opportunity. Give up meat for one day [a week&91; initially, and decrease it from there.”

And here’s another environmental reason to love mushrooms: mushroom mycelium breaks down organic pollutants like PAH, PCB and dioxins. Specialty mushrooms that degrade things like straw produce enzymes that can reach nonsoluble pollutants in soil. So the waste generated from mushroom farming can actually clean contaminants that could potentially leach from soil into the watershed.

Mushrooms are a sustainable, healthy food crop that requires little petroleum input while preserving and actually improving the soil. Whether mushrooms are used to replace livestock farming (which produces 18 percent of the earth’s greenhouse gas emissions) or a processed soy product, this little change in the diet can do a great deal for the earth.
So the next time you eat mushrooms, imagine Mother Nature standing there, saying, “Give me some skin!”



Support your local mushroom farmer!



Cathy's Lab: Running Oysters - Sawdust vs Grain Spawn and Other Insights.

For simplicity, only Straw is referred to in this blog. What is meant by “Straw” is any cellulosic agricultural waste product that can be used to grow oyster mushrooms; for example corncobs, cottonseed hulls, sugarcane bagasse, nut and seed shells, legume hulls, lawn clippings, cereal straws, and the list goes on and on.

Growing oyster mushrooms can often be a low margin business. Booms and bust are to be expected. To make money it is necessary to keep your cost inputs low. The beauty of running straw is that the material and equipment costs are inexpensive, and most importantly you can pasteurize the substrate. Pasteurization is much faster and cheaper than the time, equipment and energy required for sterilization.

You can get more spawn for your money in sawdust over grain spawn. Grain spawn is much more expensive than sawdust because it has to be sterilized and the cost of grain is higher than sawdust. Grain is great for lab situations. The grain is sterilized for hours before it is cooled and spawned from perfectly clean petri plates. The grain spawn is then transferred to sterilized wood bags. All processes are performed in a laminar flow hood in a squeaky clean lab by meticulous well washed professionals. Any lab person will tell you the most important part of growing mushrooms is to keep it clean.

This brings us to the second problem with grain - It is delicious, not only to oyster mushroom mycelium but to almost every microbe out there (Bacteria, Fungi and Mold), and animals (rodents, birds and insects). For this reason it is not the best material to use even in a semi-clean environment. As the grains are degraded by the fungus it respires the signature smells of rotting grain that attract fruit flies and other dirty creatures like no ones business. Any grower will tell you that the best way to control insects is to not get them in the first place.

Straw/wood on the other hand is not delicious, except to fungi. Not much else is good at chowing down on its complex cellulose molecules. Primary sugars are not easily accessible in straw so primary invaders like bacteria may show up to the party, but they don’t stay and get drunk and throw up all over your couch. All straw should be fresh or used quickly, kept clean and away from moisture. Mold and fungal invaders will start to grow on wet straw almost immediately.

The only small benefit to grain spawn is that your inoculated material might run a little faster. Instead of using grain spawn you can add the same nutrients that allow the mycelium to run faster. Grain spawn primarily provides nitrogen in the form of proteins that are slowly broken down by the mycelium. Don’t use plant fertilizer cuz it will burn the mycelium. There are specific slow release supplements for mushrooms that are used by commercial growers but they are pretty expensive. Cheap and free things like coffee grounds, hair, feathers, crab meal, corn gluten meal or just about any meal made from the waste of soy bean plants (or other legumes) work well for oysters. A little bit goes a long way. Experiment with 1 to 5% weight to your total straw run. For most oysters, coffee grounds will need to be drained for a few days or pressed to get rid of excess moisture. They need to be kept clean so you don’t have to pasteurize, which will suck up the moisture once again. Hair and feathers are ideal in that they are almost all protein and can be pasteurized along with the straw. The meals usually aren’t free but are largely clean so they can be added after pasteurization. Corn meal is also a pre-emergent weed killer if you are growing mushrooms in beds outdoors, and it has that additional benefit.

In side by side tests in our green house coffee grounds did not increase days to fruiting or mushroom fruit yields.


Studies have shown that supplements of 1-2% Calcium carbonate (lime) and/or 1-5% Calcium sulfate (Gypsum) can increase oyster fruiting (Chen, Lin et al. ; Tabata and Shinohara 1995; Raja, Mallesha et al. 2013), but do not have a discernible effect on the mycelium run. Lime raises pH, while gypsum does not change pH but it has the added benefit of increasing airflow by facilitating gas exchange. Lime works well with straw (I’m talking actual straw here, not necessarily the other types of agriculture waste) because the pH of straw is low. Mushrooms like slightly acidic pH and other invaders like bacteria don’t, so it is best to keep the pH below 7 but above 5. Green molds like the pH low so if you have a mold problem it is good idea to raise the pH. In addition, mycelium growth lowers pH, when the pH decreases to 4 the mycelium will stop growing. Optimal pH for fruiting is around 5-6 though mushrooms will fruit up to a pH of 7.5. Both gypsum and lime should be mixed well with the straw before or after pasteurization. If you add it before it will be dissolved better but you will be losing some in your pasteurization water. On the other hand if you add after you are more likely to have uneven mixing and un-dissolved bits that can cause pockets of slow or absent growth.

The most important thing is that you spawn at the correct ratios, which is 1 pound of spawn (sawdust or grain) for every 5 to 20 pounds of straw. We recommend for new growers that they start with a 1:5 ratio of sawdust spawn: straw. Get a good fast run and start to get a feel for how well a strain does in your farm conditions. Move up to experiments with supplements and lower ratio of spawn:straw runs. To get a real handle on the best conditions it is always good to do side by side tests with no supplement controls. Take good notes, it is surprisingly hard to remember how much of an ingredient was added and how it correlated with results. Often when you go back and look at results you can figure out external conditions or seasons that lead to contamination or poor yield.

Straw should be weighed and spawned somewhere between 1:5 and 1:20 W:W ratio.


Here in Tennessee we have highly variable weather. Summers are so hot and humid you feel like new life forms are evolving right on your skin. Our mold and pollen counts are often some of the highest in the nation. Here we have found that nitrogen supplements do increase the run, thus decreasing the days to harvest. However, nitrogen supplements also increase the chance for contamination and invading mold tends to set in on supplemented bags soon after the first flush. So here at Everything Mushrooms we just do a straight straw run from sawdust spawn even though we have ready access to grain from our lab.

Chen, W., Z. Lin, et al. Culture medium useful for cultivating Pleurotus nebrodensis, comprises corncob, lotus seed shell, peanut shell, grape seed, corn powder, lees and calcium carbonate, LIANYUNGANG SENBAO EDIBLE FUNGUS CO LTD (LIAN-Non-standard): 6.

Raja, S., B. C. Mallesha, et al. (2013). "Effect of micronutrients on growth and yield of mushrooms." Mysore Journal of Agricultural Sciences 47(1): 66-69.

Tabata, T. and H. Shinohara (1995). "ABSORPTION OF CALCIUM FROM CALCIUM SALTS ADDED CULTURE MEDIA BY HIRATAKE (PLEUROTUS-OSTREATUS (FR) QUEL) AND NAMEKO (PHOLIOTA-NAMEKO J-ITO)." Journal of the Japanese Society for Food Science and Technology-Nippon Shokuhin Kagaku Kogaku Kaishi 42(9): 682-686.



March updates us with new store hours, fresh locally sourced mushroom cultures, and neat glass mushroom charms.

Spring is coming! We've seen the snow melt, the rains are here, and soon we should glimpse the first signs of morel mushrooms. The season brings some other changes for us as well. To start, we're modifying our weekday hours. Beginning this week, our Knoxville showroom and phone ordering support will be open and available Monday through Friday from 9am to 4pm. Our showroom will also remain open from noon to 5pm on Saturday.

Cathy has also been hard at it in the lab, working with regionally collected biomass to provide more varied and interesting cultures to our collection. One that we are particularly excited about is a local wild winter oyster collection from East Tennessee.  This Pleurotus ostreatus variety we are calling the "Winter Tree Oyster" to distinguish it from our other collections. Tests show this as an aggressive colonizer and abundant fruiter. We encourage growers looking for a cooler weather oyster to explore this variety, which should be available as sawdust block spawn very soon. Cathy has also worked up a locally collected Armillariella mellea, the edible and slightly bio-luminescent, honey mushroom. This is a parasite, we will not release it in any form but as a culture on plate. Please read the full description for more info and the applicable warnings.

LEFT: Winter Tree Oyster                                                        RIGHT: Honey Mushroom

We're also blessed to have some of the neatest, and nicest crafters working in our wonderful corner of the world. We recently started receiving these great, one of a kind, hand blown glass mushroom pendants from a local artist. She brings us a new lot about every six weeks. The pieces are all unique, and the pictures we have displayed show a representation of what is available. They are available in two sizes;  Large Glass Mushroom Pendants, and Small Glass Mushroom Pendants. These make excellent gifts!

LEFT: Large Glass Mushroom Pendants                                RIGHT: Small Glass Mushroom Pendants




Cathy's Lab: Mushroom meatballs

While writing the blog "Shiitake the other White Meat" I became inspired to use mushrooms and veggies not only as an enhancer of meat flavors but also a as tasty meat like filler in meatballs. The mushrooms and veggies give these meatballs a light texture while boosting the flavor. I used Italian seasoning but this recipe can be adapted for Swedish meatballs by leaving out the herbs, garlic and fennel or add bread for a tasty meatloaf.

Many people assume from my blog posts that I'm a vegetarian. The truth is I try to only eat meat a couple times a week. My dietary habits first came from a consciousness of the environmental damage caused by large scale animal farming. Later I was educated about the suffering caused by the corporate meat industry to both workers and animals (Thank you Michael Pollan for standing on the shoulders of Upton Sinclair). I made a conscious decision to try to eat only locally farmed and humanely treated animals. I fall off the wagon sometimes but I try not to beat myself up about it. I enjoy it and pat myself on the back when I have enough will power to eat only the veg dishes.

There seems to be a fine line between people that are admired for their commitment to the environment and to those that become annoyingly smug. As well as being a personality thing I think it has mostly to do with your personal level of commitment to environmental causes. We all have levels of what we are willing to go without. As much as I admire vegans I know I could never achieve this level. I found this quote to be personally inspiring.

"Give up meat for one day [per week&91;... in terms of immediacy of action and the feasibility of bringing about reductions [CO2&91; in a short period of time, it clearly is the most attractive opportunity". U.N.'s Nobel Prize–winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change


If a lot of people do little things, it can make a big difference. I developed this recipe for those meat lovers who want to cut back a little.

You will need:

  • olive oil
  • 2 small onions
  • ½ pound carrots
  • garlic cloves to taste
  • 2T soy sauce or tamari (gluten free)
  • a few dashes of Worcestershire
  • 6 cups dried mushrooms or 8 cups fresh mushrooms
  • 1t crushed red pepper
  • ½ T fennel seeds (optional)
  • ½ – 1 T dried Italian herbs or 2-4T Fresh (Basil, oregano, parsley, thyme with a little rosemary)
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 pound ground pork
  • 3 eggs
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 cups bread crumbs or panko or gluten-free alternative (add only enough for meatballs to hold their shape).


Add vegetables to food processor and pulse until finely diced. Saute vegetables in pan with olive oil until lightly browned, remove from heat and stir in soy and Worcestershire sauces.


If using dried mushrooms soak in boiling hot water for at least 30 minutes (reserve drained liquid to use in stocks, soups or stews). Process fresh or re-hydrated mushrooms until finely diced, saute in olive oil until lightly browned. Towards the end of cooking add chili flakes, fennel seeds, dried Italian herbs (if using fresh add them directly to the meat mixture) and salt.


Combine meat, vegetables, mushrooms, eggs, seasoning and a half cup of bread-crumbs or panko. The mixture should be very moist but still hold its shape when rolled into a ball. If mixture is too wet add more bread-crumbs. Fry a bit of mixture in a pan to taste for seasoning. I dip it in marinara sauce to test if the seasoning is right, i.e. the meatball will stand up to the sauce. I usually end up adding more salt after this taste test. 


Roll meatballs and bake at 350°F for 15-25 minutes depending on size. Check to see if they are cooked all the way through. If the meatballs are for dinner tonight they can be mixed directly into the sauce. This recipe makes two full trays so there is usually enough to freeze for later or bring in to work to share.



Cathy's Lab: Sweet potato souffle with candy cap mushrooms. (gluten free and vegetarian)

If you want a conversation starter at your holiday table, candy caps are a perfect addition to the menu. The dried mushrooms smell to some, like earthy maple syrup, but to others more like slightly spicy burnt sugar or butterscotch. When baked in a recipe that includes sugar they can taste like maple syrup or vanilla. Pop a dried one in your mouth and it tastes bitter and unpleasant. It is like chewing on a square of unsweetened chocolate or a cinnamon stick-- a little sugar is all you need to bring out the best flavor. In addition to sugar it is also essential that they be well ground so you don't treat your guests to a unpalatable nugget. A coffee grinder works best, but a food processor or mortar and pestle will do.

A chemistry professor recently published a paper on the the chemical compound that makes this lovely taste and odor (Wood, Brandes et al. 2012). A seemingly innocent pursuit posed by a graduate student ended up taking 27 years and 4 additional students. All their names were included on the publication. I hope it made up for the hours they spent toiling on the bench to no avail. I've been there, it isn't fun. But enough of that--The compound they discovered, quabalactone III, is extremely stable. In the quest for the discovery of the volatile compound the original mushroom sample was used for all 27 years of tests, they extracted the odoriferous compound from the air leaving the mushroom undisturbed. The compound is actually so stable that you can often smell it on your skin after eating, especially if you sweat. The first time it happened to me I thought- when in heck did I spill maple syrup on myself. It is great if you play an after Thanksgiving Dinner touch football game, or travel for a weekend to a music festival, or backpack when you can't have a good wash.

There are several Candy Cap recipes for cookies and cakes on the web so I decided to try a gluten free savory dish. I paired the candy caps with sweet potatoes and a little sugar and rum to bring out the flavor. To me in this recipe the Candy Caps taste more like vanilla, but more complex than bottled vanilla. This recipe has only enough sugar to bring out the flavor of the candy caps, if you like sweet - sweet potatoes add more sugar. This dish freezes well so it can be made several weeks in advance.

You will need:

  • 4 c mashed sweet potato
  • 1⁄4 c rum
  • 2 oz dried candy cap mushrooms (ground to a fine powder)
  • 1⁄4 c milk
  • 1⁄4 c brown sugar
  • 1 T butter or olive oil
  • 4 eggs
  • 1⁄2 t salt

Bake sweet potatoes (3-4 large or 5-10 small) in an oven at 350°F or microwave until soft. When cooled, peel, cube and roughly measure 4 cups. Gently heat rum in a pan for a few minutes until wisps of steam are visible, remove from heat and add ground candy cap mushrooms, milk, brown sugar, oil and stir. In a food processor whip eggs and salt until light yellow and slightly foamy. Add sweet potato chucks, process again. While processing pour in Candy Cap-rum mixture. Transfer mixture to a 2 quart greased baking dish. Bake in a preheated oven at 350°F until top browns and a knife inserted in the center comes out clean, about 1 to 1.5 hours.

Baked sweet potatoes and dried candy caps ready for processing.

Finely ground dried candy caps get happy with warmed rum, butter, milk, and brown sugar.

Sweet potatoes in the food processor with whipped eggs. 

Viola, souffle!

Growing your own sweet potatoes

For the kids in my family, the sweet potato harvest is the fun part of doing their share in the preparation for the holiday. They love it so much they ask if they can dig them up long before they are ready. So, I've also included pictures and instructions on sweet potato growing.

Place potatoes in a half inch of water and wait until shoots appear.

Cut off shoots and root in water.

Plant slips when the ground doesn't feel cold anymore. In Knoxville this is usually in early June. Repeat until beds are full.

Sweet potato harvest is like a dirty easter egg hunt. Well prepared and amended soil makes the search easier!

- Wood, W. F., J. A. Brandes, et al. (2012). "The maple syrup odour of the "candy cap" mushroom, Lactarius fragilis var. rubidus." Biochemical Systematics and Ecology 43: 51-53.

Cathy's Lab - a slice of science pie for the mushroom minded

- Cathy Scott is Chief Science Officer at Everything Mushrooms; she handles all the mycelium! Cathy is also a tremendous cook and dedicated fungal fanatic. This little slice of our web space is dedicated to Cathy's experiments, recipies, and mushroom musings. Be sure to check this page regularly for updates on some of the exciting things happening "behind the scenes" in Cathy's Lab at Everything Mushrooms.




Chicken and Biscuits, a late summer mushroom breakfast

The Appalachian summer provides several delicious and easy-to-identify mushrooms for the amateur forager to learn about. Probably the most sought after of the summer mushrooms — Laetiporus sulphureus, known as Chicken of the Woods, is especially valued by chefs and culinaires because of its uncanny chicken texture and flavor. To celebrate this beautiful abundance from the mountains, and to pay homage to a traditional Appalachian breakfast, we paired Chicken of the Woods with another late-summer mushroom Grifola frondosa, commonly referred to as the Hen of the Woods or maitake mushroom, to create this unbelievable Chicken and Biscuits recipe.

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Laetiporus sulphureus, Chicken of the Woods

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Grifola frondosa, commonly referred to as the Hen of the Woods

Fried Chicken:

For the Southern Fried Chicken of the Woods, you will need:

  • 1 lb.chicken of the woods mushrooms
  • 1 gallon buttermilk
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon each of garlic powder, celery seed, and black pepper
  • 2 teaspoon Spanish smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • “plenty oil for frying”

Break chicken into bite-sized pieces and soak in buttermilk, at least 30 minutes, but preferable overnight.

Mix together dry ingredients in a large bowl. Heat oil to 375℉ Remove chicken from buttermilk reserving leftover buttermilk. In batches, dip buttermilk-soaked chicken in flour, back into the buttermilk, then back into the flour again, coating well each time.

Fry until golden brown, about five minutes. Drain well before serving.


Hen Gravy:

For the Hen of the Woods Gravy, you will need:

  • ½ lb. fresh maitake, chopped
  • --or-- 1oz dried maitake, broken up by hand
  • 3 cups whole milk
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1 clove garlic, minced or pressed
  • 1 medium-sized shallot, minced very fine
  • sea salt
  • cracked black pepper
  • a sprig of thyme

In a small saucepan, over medium-low heat, warm 2 cups of milk with the maitakes keeping it always just below simmer and stirring often, for about twenty minutes or until dried mushrooms have hydrated— ten minutes or so is plenty with fresh mushrooms. Remove from heat.

In a skillet, over medium-high heat, melt butter and then lower to medium-low, cooking the garlic, shallots and flour until the roux mixture begins to get some color, but is still pretty golden. Whisk in the maitake milk and raise the heat a little, stirring constantly and as it thickens, season with salt and pepper, to taste. Add the remaining cup of milk when the gravy becomes too thick and serve.


Biscuits:

For the biscuits, I used a 36-year old sourdough culture that was given to me as a gift. Although a more mature culture will give a richer flavor, you can easily begin by gathering wild yeasts yourself. In The Art of Fermentation, Sandor Katz says, “There is abundant microbial life present on grains… This indigenous microflora is dormant in dried grains and flour, but when the flour is moistened, microbial activity resumes. Stirring stimulates and distributes microbial activity, encourages yeast growth via oxygenation and prevents surface mold growth.”

Simply mix together equal parts flour and water and cover with a dishcloth and a rubber band so that no bugs can get inside. Allow it to ferment for several days until it is really bubbly and beginning to smell sour. Feed the culture with new flour and water— about three times the volume of what you started with, and let it rest 8 hours before you use it. You can keep the culture alive indefinitely, storing it in a jar in the fridge with a few holes punched in the top. Whenever you want to use your culture, remove it from the fridge and add one tablespoon of it to equal parts flour and water, discarding the rest. Save a portion of the newly-fed culture the same way you did before for the next time.

It may seem like a lot of work the first time, but once you have begun your wild-gathered yeast culture, it will continue to grow and be like a faithful friend. This is the way all bread was made until about two centuries ago. Packaged yeast from the store may be quicker, but the broad palate of pro-bacteria instills a depth and complexity of flavor to anything you make with it, that only gets better as your culture ages.

To make the biscuits, you will need:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour (plus more for dusting)
  • 2 teaspoons brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 8 tablespoons high-fat butter, cut into small pieces and chilled
  • 1/2 cup sourdough, watered down until it is about as thick as milk
  • coarse sea salt
  • cracked black pepper

Preheat your oven to 425℉ and combine all of the dry ingredients in a bowl. Cut the butter into the flour mixture until it resembles breadcrumbs. Make a well in the center and add the sourdough. Combine loosely with a spatula in just a few strokes— it won’t be fully incorporated yet, but enough that you can turn it out on a dusted pastry-surface. Allow it to rest or “autolyse” 20-30 minutes

Fold the dough over itself and press it gently back out. Continue folding it and pressing it out five or six times to create layers. With regular biscuits, they tell you not to overwork the dough, but you may work it a little more with these, because they are yeast-raised.

Cut the biscuits out sort of small, and place them tightly in a cast-iron skillet or cake pan. Butter the tops and sprinkle the salt and pepper and let them proof in a warm location. As for proofing time, twenty or thirty minutes should be seen as a bare minimum. The longer you can proof them, up to four hours, the better. Whenever you are ready to bake them, put them in the oven for 15-20 minutes, but keep an eye on them!-- sourdough tends to burn more easily than regular biscuits.

To learn more about sourdough and other types of fermentations, come to Everything Mushrooms and pick up a copy of Sandor Katz’ Art of Fermentation, and while you’re here, ask about what wild mushrooms are currently in season.

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Gnocchi with Grilled Scallops and Chanterelles

Jessica's Kitchen Culture - kitchen kung-fu for your fungi.

- Jessica Hammonds' love for cooking stems from her even greater love, eating.  When not supervising grow house activities at Everything Mushrooms, she spends her time catering for clients around town as head bbqnista at Organicism Farms and Foods and chef-collaborator in the Moveable Feast Supper Club. Her experience farming mushrooms complements a bold and adventurous culinary style focusing on fresh, local ingredients. Check this space often for tasty mushroom recipes, preparation suggestions, and advice on how to get the best from your shrooms.


Whoa, did this summer ever fly! It shocks me sometimes to realize how quickly time can go by, but even more shocking was my realization that chanterelle season was almost over, and I HADN’T EATEN ANY! Well, let me tell you, that fact chilled me to my very bones. Fortunately, a local forager, who must have psychically tuned into my lack-of-chanterelle-blues, brought us a late season batch of these apricot colored beauties.

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Oh, happy day! Oh, joy! Trust me, a lot of excited jumping up and down occurred. It was time to focus and get myself and my mushrooms into the kitchen. Then, of course, came the torture of deciding WHAT TO MAKE.

Knowing this was likely the only time this season that I would get to encounter these magnificent creatures, I wanted to treat them specially. You know, show them how much I love them and all that. Well for me, nothing says love like fresh scallops and gnocchi. Add chanterelles, and we are talking happily ever after.

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This dish can be as simple or as difficult to make as you want it to be. As I like to do things the hard way, and had help from my friend and co-worker Zak, we decided to make our gnocchi by hand. We used Martha Stewart’s recipe since she a goddess of, well, most everything domestic. You can find her recipe for potato gnocchi HERE. If you are feeling less insane/frisky than we were, you can buy pre-made gnocchi in the pasta aisle of most grocery stores.

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We wanted to really showcase the chanterelle flavor as the main component of the dish. Gnocchi is a perfect flavor carrier and we decided to keep the scallops super simple as well. Just a bit of salt and pepper, and onto the hot grill they went. I mean, grilled scallops? You really can’t go wrong there.

For our beautiful, gorgeous, wonderful smelling chanterelles, we roughly chopped them and sauteed them with olive oil, pepper, and a little “flaky red” as Zak calls it (crushed red pepper flakes). This preparation perfectly highlights the already slightly peppery, apricot-y flavor of these glorious mushrooms. Cook them till slightly crunchy and they taste like earthy heaven.

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To serve, simply place the grilled scallops on top of the cooked gnocchi then top liberally with those tasty, tasty chanterelles. Mmmm, chanterelles, we can’t wait to see you again next season (although don’t worry, in the meantime, you can use dried chanterelles).

Gnocchi with Grilled Scallops and Chanterelles:

Serves 4-5 people

  • 1 lb. cooked gnocchi (see link to homemade recipe above)
  • 2 lb. fresh scallops
  • ¼ lb. fresh chanterelles OR 2 oz. dried chanterelles (rehydrated)
  • 3 cloves garlic, diced
  • salt, pepper, and flaky red (crushed red pepper) to taste
  • 3 T. butter or olive oil

In a large pot, bring water to a boil. Add gnocchi and cook until gnocchi floats to the surface. About 2-3 minutes.

While gnocchi cooks, roughly chop chanterelles. Add butter or oil (or both if you want) to a saute pan and melt. Add chanterelles and cook until water is released and mushrooms are just beginning to crisp up a bit. About 5 minutes. Season to taste with salt, pepper, and flaky red.

As everything else cooks, lightly pat dry the scallops and season with a bit of salt and pepper. Place on a hot grill and cook about 2-3 minutes on each side.

To assemble, place cooked gnocchi in a serving dish. Place scallops on top of gnocchi and cover with cooked chanterelles. Enjoy.

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Introducing Culture Club with a Kiki on Kombucha, and check out new inexpensive "Cathy's Choice" culture syringes.

It's no lie, we've a fun place to work and explore new things. While a lot of our work can be smelly, shroomy, and sometimes slimy and gross... much of what we do involves investigating new ways to educate our customers and clients about the products we make and the mushrooms we promote. As part of this, we are usually exploring new ways to turn people on to the intriquing, interesting, and capitvating world of fungi. To help accomplish this goal, the decidedly colorful duo Zak and Jessica have created Culture Club.

So what is it? Here's what they have to say about it: Culture Club is the hottest new social club in town. Come mix and mingle with Knoxville’s eclectic intelligentsia for an evening of education and libation. Each event combines science-based fun with food, live music, and conversation. Culture Club takes your weekend out of the bars and rounds up a crowd of a different calibre. So dress your best, and raise your glass to an evening fete that is truly out-of-the-ordinary.

We will be hosting these events every few months, generally in our shop at 1004 Sevier Ave, Knoxville TN 37920... but it may pop around town. Check back with us regularly, or join their mailing list to receive updates.

For the premier Culture Club event, we're Having a Kiki About Kombucha. Could it be true what the ancient Chinese said? "It'll make you strong as an ox, with the eyes of an eagle and the youthful vigor of a spring chicken." Kombucha, the so-called "Manchurian Mushroom,” has enjoyed a great deal of popularity lately, yet it’s not really a mushroom at all. Join us for a fun and educational evening of drinks and hors d'oerves; make your own delicious kombucha soda and maybe meet someone new. Let's have a Kiki about Kombucha, $5 gets you in the door and we'll send you home with something fun.

Ramen bird nests with glazed shiitake, red peppers, and spiced cashews. Finished in hoisin and chili-garlic sauce. Just one of the hors d'oeuvres being served this Saturday at Culture Club's Kiki About Kombucha.

Additionally, we're adding something new to the roster in the way of mushroom cultures. Cathy is the mycelium caretaker, and she sure has her hands full! Sometimes she has too many cultures stacking up and they need to go, so we're giving them a way to get out of here in the form of  half-price, reduced cost "Cathy's Choice" culture syringes.

For these syringes, mycelium is grown on a nutrient broth and suspended in a 10cc syringe. The material is kept living and stable under refrigeration, however it is not infinitely shelf-stable. To keep things fresh, Cathy is tasked with letting some of them go as part of this special. As a result they sell a little quicker, fresher inventory can be moved in and our customers get a fun way to collect and explore new mushroom strains.

What will I receive? You'll receive cultures from our standard inventory, the same bins from which other customers are paying $18 per syringe. In this case, however, you'll be receiving a culture that may be near expiration or particularly overstocked. So here's a hint... do not buy extra syringes from this special with the intention of storing them for later use. What you will receive is still healthy, guaranteed clean and vigorous... it just won't be for much longer. The selection will rotate constantly and there is no way we can tell you ahead of time what you will receive (that's part of the reason they are reduced price). If multiple syringes are purchased as part of this reduced price special, we will make an effort to send you different species or strains for a more diverse selection, however this cannot be guaranteed. Your cultures will be properly labeled and you'll know what they are when you receive the order.




Cathy's Lab: Shiitake the other white meat.

Cathy's Lab - a slice of science pie for the mushroom minded

- Cathy Scott is Chief Science Officer at Everything Mushrooms; she handles all the mycelium! Cathy is also a tremendous cook and dedicated fungal fanatic. This little slice of our web space is dedicated to Cathy's experiments, recipies, and mushroom musings. Be sure to check this page regularly for updates on some of the exciting things happening "behind the scenes" in Cathy's Lab at Everything Mushrooms.


Have you ever noticed how mushroom gravy can actually make a meat dish taste more meaty? The meaty flavor of shiitake comes from large amount of glutamic acid, which is a key flavor in meat. The glutamate in shiitake is also a natural version of the flavor enhancer monosodium glutamate. The natural glutamate in shiitake can boost the flavor in a dish without added sodium. Glutamate imparts the 5 th taste, known in Japan as umami, a hard to describe subtle savory essence. Nonetheless it can add an important layer of flavor to your cuisine creations. Like meat, shiitake can complement a range of dishes from light salads to heavy gravies, tomato or dairy based sauces. They also have a dense flesh and intense flavor so they can stand up to long cooking in pasta, soups or stews. Of course they are also a natural ingredient to use in stir-fries and other Asian dishes.

In addition to being tasty, shiitake are an ideal health and weight loss food. The protein and soluble dietary fiber content will keep you feeling satisfied. They also contain only small amounts of fats and no sugars or cholesterol, which means shiitake will not increase your body’s production of HDL/LDL cholesterol or insulin. Shiitakes are one of the few natural vegetable sources rich in vitamin D, additionally they contain vitamins B, C and niacin. They also contain many minerals including potassium, copper, selenium, and all of the essential amino acids.

Bioactive compounds found in edible mushrooms are stimulating a great deal scientific research for use as medicinal extracts and functional foods. Fungi have been well known and employed for their antibiotic properties for decades. Recent research shows that shiitake exhibit antibacterial and anti-viral effects (Vetvicka 2011). In addition studies have shown that shiitake can enhance the immune system and have demonstrated efficacy in treating diseases as diverse as AIDS (Bisen, Baghel et al. 2010) and cancer (Shin, Kim et al. 2010; Chen, Zhang et al. 2013; Ina, Kataoka et al. 2013). Shiitake compounds identified that inhibit blood aggregation and reduce cholesterol levels, may someday be useful in treating heart disease (Rop, Mlcek et al. 2009). As if this isn’t amazing enough, shiitakes have been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties (Meenakshi 2008). Inflammation is the root cause of many of our aches and pains, ranging from sore throats to pulled muscles. It is also a well-known contributing factor to many age-related chronic diseases. One of the safest possible strategies to suppress long and short-term inflammation is the employment of foods with anti-inflammatory properties like shiitake. Here in the West we are just beginning to understand the power of mushrooms, unlike Asians who have used shiitake as medicinal treatments for thousands of years.

Shiitakes are one of the easiest mushrooms to grow, increasingly allowing small farms to provide fresh shiitake mushrooms to local markets. Fresh mushrooms will shrink during cooking so buy a little extra. You can also easily  grow your own shiitakes outside on logs, or indoors on kits we sell at Everything Mushrooms. Store fresh mushrooms in the refrigerator in a paper bag, but never use plastic.Shiitakes grow on wood substrates that aren’t very tasty so be sure to remove all of the stems and brush off any sawdust, there is no need to soak.

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If you can’t find fresh,  dried shiitake are delicious also. Reconstitute dried mushrooms in hot water before processing and cooking as you would fresh mushrooms. As an extra bonus you get mushroom broth, which is a great addition to soup or stock.

Shiitakes can be sautéed, marinated, grilled, battered and deep-fried, broiled, roasted, boiled, simmered, a flavor-filler for meatballs, added to sauces, gravies and stuffing or stuffed themselves. For the non-mushroom lovers try marinating them in soy sauce and red wine and roasting, or processing into a shiitake paté. You can fool people into thinking they are meat. The next time you are planning a vegetarian meal I hope you try using shiitake mushrooms as a “protein substitute” for meat!

**Shiitake mushrooms should be cooked before eating; some individuals have rare but serious allergic reaction to uncooked shiitake mushrooms.**

Bisen, P. S., R. K. Baghel, et al. (2010). "Lentinus edodes: A Macrofungus with Pharmacological Activities." Current Medicinal Chemistry 17(22): 2419-2430.

Chen, J. Z., X. D. Zhang, et al. (2013). "The Application of Fungal Beta-glucans for the Treatment of Colon Cancer." Anticancer Agents Med Chem 13(5): 725-730.

Ina, K., T. Kataoka, et al. (2013). "The Use of Lentinan for Treating Gastric Cancer." Anticancer Agents Med Chem 13(5): 681-688.

Meenakshi, M. (2008). "Bioactivities of some medicinal mushrooms: a modern perspective." Journal of Mycopathological Research 46(1): 13-21.

Rop, O., J. Mlcek, et al. (2009). "Beta-glucans in higher fungi and their health effects." Nutrition Reviews 67(11): 624-631.

Shin, A., J. Kim, et al. (2010). "Dietary Mushroom Intake and the Risk of Breast Cancer Based on Hormone Receptor Status." Nutrition and Cancer-an International Journal 62(4): 476-483.

Vetvicka, V. (2011). "Glucan-immunostimulant, adjuvant, potential drug." World journal of clinical oncology 2(2): 115-119.




Morel madness, more workshop updates, a new affiliate program, and fancy fungi things.

It's morel season! The blacks have been up for a few weeks now, with foragers picking them all along the Tennessee Valley. We're just now starting to see the first of the yellows. The season appears to be pretty vigorous, and we're getting some mushrooms in from foragers to sell locally. If you are in the area, and want some land fish, stop on by! We will do .5lb portions for $25 and 1lb portions for $40. Fresh from the woods! If you're just not sure what to do with these, we have some wonderful suggestions for morel mushroom recipes on our  recipe pages. KISS: dredge, batter, fry...

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Our spring workshop series continues to roll along, with classes currently offered every other Thursday at 6pm. These fun and casual mushroom experiences are a great way to spend an evening, learning about mushroom cultivation, identification, or just filling your noggin with fun info about fungi. Be sure to check our  Workshops and Events page frequently, as we update with future listings and events. Your spot can be reserved by purchasing a ticket to any listed event. We're particularly excited about the May 1 Workshop when Whitey presents Mushroom Identification 101.

There have also been some wonderful new additions to our catalog, including some beautiful hand made glass mushrooms... both as  bottle stoppers and as decorative additions for tiny terrariums and twig gardens. We've also recently received a fresh shipment of amadou mushroom products from Romania. All hat sizes and styles are back in stock, including the fedora, the homberg, the standard hat (limited supply), as well as the cap with brim. We also received some small scrap pieces of amadou, in various sizes. Some of you may want to play with this, making your own amadou mushroom accessories. Keep in mind this material is fairly fragile, doesn't sew very well, and probably needs testing of various glues. We don't work with it, so we don't know much about it. Experiment away!

We have a feeling some of our customers and readers are active bloggers or maintain websites with mushroom themed content. We're exploring a pilot affiliate program that will pay 10% commission with a 30 day cookie for those interested in hosting links to our web store and product information. If you write mushroom blogs, produce videos, host mushroom themed content, please let us know if you are interested in signing up. Payouts could help generate some decent side income, and you will be providing your readers and viewers an easy and link for them to explore more about mushroom spawn or purchase other mushroom cultivation related gear, books, crafts, etc. Give us a shout by email or phone and we'll be happy to get you on board.




Dr. Whitey joins the team, Cathy has some pointers for pouring petri dishes, local Farmers' Market, and bargain mushroom kits.

It's impossible to express how excited we are to have Dr. Whitey Hitchcock joining the team at Everything Mushrooms. Folks in our area will recognize Whitey from his time at the  Market Square Farmers' Market, selling locally foraged wild mushrooms. Whitey knows mushrooms and has the drive to learn more about them and teach others... it is inspiring. Local folks can visit with Whitey every Monday as he keeps the store open from noon until 6pm. Come chat about mushrooms, or just bring in your finds from the weekend and he'll help you with identification. Whitey also has his own mushroom blog; The Fungi Forager - Food and Art... we've linked to and recommended it to others for a while now. If you are are a mushroom hunter, you should be reading Whitey's blog. Be sure to add it to your reading list and check out the flattering post he made about joining our team.

ABOVE: Dr. Whitey Hitchcock with a good Sparrasis score!

Cathy pours a lot of  petri plates, Cathy pours a lot of petri plates... say it fast six times. Really, she does. It is the core of our process, as we keep dozens upon dozens of cultures in rotation each week. Pouring clean petri dishes is science, just maybe not rocket science. In fact, it's one of the first basic biological lab skills students learn. We get a lot of questions from mushroom growers who are interested in "taking the leap" to agar and doing tissue cultures on their own. It can be a rewarding experience, and in the most recent installment of Cathy's Lab, Cathy takes some time to offer pointers and suggestions on how to mix, sterilize, and pour clean petri plates. If tissue culturing is something you're interested in exploring, please take a moment to survey some of the easy pre-packaged agar culturing kits we have available, offering all the tools you need for varying degrees of execution.

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LEFT: PDA should be measured on aluminum foil or wax paper.        RIGHT: Poured under aseptic conditions 

This year you can catch us every Saturday, starting May 3 through November 22 at the Knoxville Market Square Farmers' Market. Market runs from 9am until 2pm and we will have a host of wonderful things to check out over the season. We will be featuring locally grown mushrooms... and by local, they had to make the grueling 1.5 mile trip from our South Knoxville facility to market in the heart of downtown Knoxville! We'll also have a variety of fun and exciting mushroom grow kits, foraged wild mushrooms (many provided by Dr. Whitey!), mushroom spawn for your garden, kombucha starters and much more. The Market Square Farmer's Market is the premier outdoor weekly farmer's market in the region, you will not be disappointed. Please come see us and the many other wonderful vendors, and put some local food on your table.

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We've also just about got a handle on managing the bargain rack with the addition of a Bargain Overstock Deals - Mushroom Grow Kits page. This is where you will want to peek in frequently for mushroom kits that are nearing expiration. Get a nice $5 discount, and a still perfectly good mushroom kit. Don't forget about our other Bargain Overstock Deals on mushroom sawdust spawn blocks and 100 packs of plug spawn.




We've updated the spring workshop calendar, yummy lasagna from Jessica's Kitchen, and fun new Bear's Head Tooth kits.

Although it's hard to believe, spring is on the way. We've seen our share of low temps this winter, but not nearly as bad as some of you out there. We're staying positive, because before you know it we'll be kicking around in the woods looking for morels and this crappy winter will be an afterthought. Looking ahead to warming weather, we've planned out most of our spring workshop series. Check our  Workshop and Events page for more details. Tickets to any workshop can be purchased in advance. We may fill in with some more classes, so be sure to check this page regularly for updates.

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One of our most successful workshops from the 2013 series featured a teaching session followed by a wonderful catered mushroom dinner, prepared and served by our very own Jessica Hammonds. Jessica put together a wonderful  creamy porcini lasagna that evening, and recently took the time to write up her recipe with pictures and thoughtful commentary for her most recent blog entry to Jessica's Kitchen Culture. Check it out, it's quite yummy!

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This past fall, I was fortunate enough to stumble upon a nice find of  Hericium americanum, the Bear's Head Tooth mushroom. I passed it while riding on the local single track trails in our Urban Wilderness and went back the following day to collect. Prime samples were taken to Cathy in our lab and she was able to clone and isolate a wonderful fruiting strain from this collection. This strain is available as 10cc liquid culture, or as culture on petri dish or slant. However, the biggest shocker for this strain came in a recent grow/taste test. When grown side by side with our other Hericium, the Lion's Mane mushroom kits, it produced every bit as well, if not a little bigger mushrooms. Fruiting was quick and easy, just as the case with Lion's Mane. However, tasting the mushrooms side by side most folks preferred the flavor and cooked consistency of the Bear's Head mushrooms. That's saying a lot, because Lion's Mane is a house favorite! As a result, we've decided to move this strain into production as a Bear's Head Tooth Mushroom (Hericium aericanum) - Ready to Grow Kit. Either way, you can't go wrong, so we are continuing to sell both. Enjoy or grow them side by side and see for yourself!




We're hiring, straw workshops, and better bargain deal pages for cheapo mycelium!

Whew, there's a lot going on! We'll start with the most important part. We're hiring! Business is mushrooming, and we need some help. We have a very specific need in mind, and are looking for someone who has the stuff to become a key player in our operation.

We are seeking interesting and enthusiastic folks who enjoy mushrooms and working with the public. This is a full-time customer service management and sales position. Experience or familiarity with mushroom gardening and cultivation is a plus, but not mandatory. Saturday availability required. The position is designed to provide paid, on-the-job training for a 90 day evaluation period, after which qualified candidates will be offered increased responsibilities and benefits as a full time member of our staff.

Job responsibilities will include:

  • Engaging retail and wholesale customers through local show room sales, internet, and phone ordering support

  • Use of ecommerce system to property track and participate in order processing for customers

  • Management of retail show room, product stocking, and inventory tracking

  • Participate in mushroom cultivation and gardening projects

  • Engage in local and online marketing opportunities to increase product and service exposure

Previous or current experience in customer service, sales, marketing, advertising, or retail is beneficial. Applicants should be comfortable with basic internet technologies, familiar with social media, and be comfortable in a retail sales environment. We are seeking hard working, self-motivated, independent thinkers who work well with others and can operate productively in a dynamic work environment.

We are accepting resumes at 1004 Sevier Ave, 37920 or via email to bob@everythingmushrooms.com until 5pm Friday, February 7. Please supply a resume, interest letter, or other supporting documents showcasing your unique skills.

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Last week we posted an announcement regarding our January Spawn Sale. It's a great idea, because we have some aging spawn that needs to be sold... but we thought about a better way to execute this and came up with something a little different. We need a way to sell material that is moving on towards expiration, separate from our current fresh inventory... thing is, we will generally always have at least a few things that need to be sold this fashion. The solution... bargain deal pages for each of our spawn products! You'll now see a Bargain Overstock Deals Page in each of our major Grow Your Own Mushrooms product categories. Each of these pages will list the spawn or material available. Generally there will not be much listed, and pickings will be slim but when things are available, you'll be able to pick up perfectly good stuff for a good discount. Just use it soon, ok? These pages will be updated regularly as material flows through our facility, so new stuff may show up week to week. Be sure to check back regularly.

We're also kicking off our spring workshop series on Thursday February 6 with a time tested classic: Growing Oyster Mushrooms From Straw. This is a casual and fun, hands-on workshop. Each student will get the opportunity to make and take home their own fruiting oyster mushroom straw column. We'll talk a lot about growing mushrooms from straw, tour our demonstration garden, and have a good time! Cost is $35 per student and space is limited so please purchase tickets in advance. More workshops and classes will be posted soon, so be sure to check our Workshops and Events page for more info on what we're doing, and where we will be doing it.

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It's a new year, we have new mushroom hats in stock and a spawn sale is in full swing!

It's a new year and time to hit the ground running! We're gearing up for a fantastic spring mushroom season, planning new cultivation projects, expanded availability of mushroom plug spawn, and hosting whole new workshop series. We're also excited to be exploring some new cultures this year, working with some interesting and seasonal varieties to spice up what's available in our Ready to Grow Kits.

There are a couple of recent addition to our catalog in the realm of mushroom apparel and accessories; the Homburg and Fedora style amadou mushroom hats from Romania. Mako Csaba sent us some really neat new styles, along with fresher and more updated versions of the standard amadou Cap. We're receiving more hats in the "larger" size... which means, that at least for the Homburg and Fedora style hats, we are offering them as "one size fits all"... meaning these particular styles fit our rather average to large sized American skulls just fine. The Caps will continue to be offered in multiples sizes for the time being, but we may eventually get to a "small" and "large" size for these, in an effort to keep sizing decisions as simple as possible.

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LEFT: Fedora style amadou hat                                RIGHT: Homburg style amadou tinder fungus hat

Mako also sent along some new small size amadou mushroom bags. These are the smallest of three bag sizes we offer, and new to the catalog. They don't fit much... think of them like a small ladies clutch purse... but maybe a little bigger. All three sizes are pretty stunning, but keep in mind that these are more decorative than functional. These bags are handmade from felted fungus. They tend to be delicate and are better suited for occasional use. They will not stand up well to frequent use and harsh conditions. Here in Tennessee we would call this a Sunday going to meetin' purse. We're thinking the bags could probably be made a bit more functional with a slightly upgraded strap, maybe leather or other cloth material. We're in talks with Mako to see if this would be possible in the future, but for now we'll be happy with our 100% amadou mushroom bags!

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SPAWN SALE: We've got a bit of spawn approaching that "point." You know... the point where it's still perfectly sound, healthy, and ready to use... but getting on towards where it really needs to find a happy home in some straw, a log, or a pile of wood chips. For this reason, we'll be marking some of our plug spawn, sawdust spawn blocks, and even a few varieties of Ready to Grow Mushroom Kits at sale pricing until we clear out some of this "older" stock. Don't get me wrong, it's not expired... but it is being sold cheap. If you prefer fresher material and want to pay full price, give us a call or shoot us an email, we'll make that happen! However, these items will be marked down while supply (overstock) lasts, and prices for each variety will return to normal as we get into the freshly released stuff. I suspect the sale pricing on many of these items will last at least a week or two, but don't delay, check the pages to see what's cheap and available to ship today!

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This spring will feature more mushroom cultivation and cooking workshops. This time, we're hoping to solicit the help of area experts and even offer some mushroom identification and classification workshops. As new instructors join our loop, more dates will be posted, so please be sure to check our pages regularly, or better yet... sign up for our email announcement newsletter to receive the latest and greatest info on a semi-regular, but not highly annoying, basis. If we cross the line, you can always remove yourself, it won't hurt our feelings... we understand.

 




A holiday flash sale on shiitake mushroom plugs and some yummy Polish Christmas Eve soup.

We prefer to sell our mushroom spawn as fresh as possible from our incubator. Occassionally we end up with a bit more on hand than anticipated, so it only makes sense to put it on sale in hopes of moving it quickly while the mycelium is still fresh and agile. Lately, we've found ourselves a little overstocked with shiitake mushroom plugs, so for the next week we're going to knock some serious coin off 'em. Packs of 100 plugs will be sold for only $8 each and packs of 500 plugs will be available for only $19. That's over 30% off each! Add a "plug kit" to these and you'd have yourselve one heck of an interesting, unique, and inexpensive holiday gift... hint hint. Sale expires at midnight Friday, December 13, so don't delay!

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Cathy's also been experimenting with more recipes utilizing dried mushrooms. One such exploration recently lead to rediscovering and modifying a traditional Polish Christmas Eve Soup. Cathy's delightfully written blog highlights a recipe that features porcini mushrooms, one of our favorite savories! If you are looking for something a little different when it comes to holiday soups, give this one a try: Faux Polish porcini Christmas Eve soup (vegetarian or vegan - gluten free).

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ABOVE: Polish Christmas mushroom soup with rice and porcini

 




Cyber Monday sale, new notes from Cathy's Lab, upcoming workshops, and gearing up for the holidays!

Well, it's "Cyber Monday" y'all... but they tell us most of the deals were already on the table last week during "Grey Thursday" and "Black Friday." Oh well... we may have missed out, I guess that's what we get for being "old school." Regardless, we're still going to do a short and sweet flash sale, just to keep things interesting. Until midnight Tuesday Dec , we're discounting all our Mushroom Grow Kits by 25%! Here's a great way to try some fun fungal projects on the super cheap... they make good gifts too.

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ABOVE: Hypsizygus ulmarius, white elm oyster growing from our Mushroom Grow Kit. 

There are a handful of questions we get frequently, usually from folks calling in, and they're fairly predictable. Most are the type of questions anyone new or curious about mushrooms and mushroom cultivation would think to ask. We love filling folks in and pointing them in the right direction to learn more, but there are some questions that require a bit more explanation... prompting Cathy to take a little extra time and address them property and permanently in some web space on her blog, Cathy's Lab.

One such inquiry is something like: what is the "p value" of our mushroom cultures and mycelium? It's a difficult question to answer, because P-value refers to the significance level in a statistical test... and we know this isn't what folks are asking about. What they are generally seeking, is an answer that points to the health, vigor, and genetic potential of the mushroom culture or strain they are ordering. Cathy explains it much better in her most recent update: Passage numbers and "p value."

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In December, our workshop series will be showcasing classes featuring some DIY home mushroom classics. On Thursday Dec 5 at 6pm we'll be demonstrating how to grow shiitake mushrooms from hardwood logs. This is a fun, hands-on workshop in which each student will learn the techniques for drilling and inoculating freshly cut hardwood logs with mushroom spawn. After a year of incubation, these mushroom log swill produce 'shrooms for many years. The $35 fee covers the instructional time and materials and each participant will be making a log to take home to add to their garden (logs make great gifts too!). On Thursday Dec 21 we will be discussing all things related to the much venerated kombucha tea. We'll talk about brewing this easy to make probiotic, flavorings, carbonation, and kombucha mixology. The $35 fee covers materials and each student will take home their own kombucha mother (scoby's make great gifts too!).

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We're also ramping up for the holidays in mushroom land. Fresh mushroom grow kits and mushroom spawn are being produced each week to fill the increased demand from holiday shoppers. Show your friends and family that you are a savvy gift giver. After all, who doesn't like fresh 'shrooms?! Check out our Great Gift Ideas Section for more interesting mushroom gift ideas. May we suggest this really stunning Beautiful Mushrooms of the World 2014 Calender? We ship daily and list only items that are in stock and ready to roll! 

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Much brewing this fall: golden oysters, tinder fungus hats and bags, Everything Mushrooms tumblr, more yumminess from Jessica, plus an updated workshop schedule.

Quite a lot has been brewing at Everything Mushrooms. Fall is always a busy time of year for us, usually following a slow spell in the late summer. We have wholesale orders to fill as folks take advantage of the slightly cooler temps to work with a variety of mushrooms. Many of our summer projects start to bare fruit, so it's generally an exciting time for us as new stuff makes its way to our website, or is available for pickup at our showroom in Knoxville. Speaking of neat projects and the demo garden... here's a couple of things baring fruit:

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That's right... golden oyster mushrooms, Pleurotus citrinopileatus, are now available in a variety of forms... everything from tissue cultures to sawdust spawn and mushroom plugs. We also have small, ready to grow mushroom kits available. This is a neat mushroom, although it's not our favorite in terms of flavor. One of our favorites however, is the toothy fungi on the right.. lion's mane! We love this mushroom. It's great for your noggin, and tastes kind of like shellfish or lobster when cooked in butter. It's also super easy to grow. We have both large sawdust blocks, and small ready to grow mushroom kits available.

We've also been working with Mako Csaba, a tinder fungus craftsman from Korond Romania, to import some of his fine mushroom caps and bags. He makes these incredibly neat hats, caps, and bags out of amadou. Amadou is the soft fibers of Fomes fomentarius (tinder fungus), used by ancient people as tinder to light fires. It is highly flammable and catches sparks well. The whole mushroom was often used as a smoldering coal to transport fire. The hats and bags are all uniquely handmade, so please allow for some variations. We currently have amadou hats and small bags available.

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Of all the social media interactions we maintain, including Facebook and Twitter... I gotta say that I am most excited about the addition of the Everything Mushrooms Tumblr (everythingmushrooms.tumblr.com). Our tumblr page is managed in house by dedicated fungi net junkies... you're getting nothing but top notch premium mushroom exposure. Check it out... if you don't currently tumblr, it's worth joining just to check out this page from time to time. Lots of neat pictures, some of our own stuff, mostly other people's stuff... but still lots of NEAT stuff. All stuff about mushrooms: the Everything Mushrooms Tumblr.

We've had a mess of oyster mushrooms this summer. Our wet, mostly mild weather has been very productive in the grow house. We've had a lot of time to play with oysters in the kitchen and Jessica brings us a fresh oyster mushroom recipe. She attacks an intimidating subject for a lot of home gourmets, risotto. It's not that hard, so check out her most recent Jessica's Kitchen Culture addition: oyster mushrooms and arugula risotto

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We've also updated our workshop schedule, focusing on filling our calendar for the rest of the year. It's our hope to have regular Thursday evening classes and workshops, generally from 6-8pm, covering a variety of topics. These will include hands on mushroom cultivation, identification, cooking demos and tastings, and much more. Check the workshop and events page frequently as we'll be updating with new classes as details solidify. Our first Fall workshop on Thursday October 10 will cover growing oyster mushrooms from prepared strawWe'll cover all the steps; from selecting straw, to chopping, pasteurization and spawning. We'll also discuss care and maintenance of the mushroom harvests and tour our demonstration garden and grow house. Each workshop participant will make and take home their own oyster mushroom straw column bag ($25 value!). We are many ways this process can be adapted for easy home gardening, come join us and learn how! Space is limited, $35 per student - click here to purchase tickets online and reserve your spot.

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Black morel mushroom culture and spawn patches available, summer dates to catch us at the Market Square Farmers' Market.

Unfortunately our morel mushroom season was cut a little short by unseasonably warm temps early in April. However, we did manage to accomplish one major goal while the little land fish were up. We successfully obtained culture of locally harvested black morel mushrooms! Cathy was also able to work up some of the yellows, and "tulip" morels... but they seem to need a little bit more time in the lab before they are ready. The black morel (Morchella angusticeps) however, has been performing well. Low passage number plates are currently available, as well as colonized blocks of sawdust spawn, or small grow patch kits

Prepare bed by digging an eight inch hole in shaded well drained location. Fill with four to six inches of soaked, freshly chipped hardwood or hardwood shavings. Layer in bits and pieces of mushroom spawn. Cover loosely with fresh mulch or forest litter.  Morel mushrooms can also be grown in conjunction with apple and poplar trees or forest beds (directions included with spawn).  Areas where morel mushrooms are found locally are more likely to have success growing black morels outdoors from spawn.  Even in good conditions morel spawn might not fruit for years after planting.

For additional information on growing morels please check out "Mycelium Running : How Mushrooms Can Help Save the World by Paul Stamets.

**Successful morel cultivation depends on a narrow range environmental conditions for growth, for this reason we cannot guarantee fruit body development from the black morel spawn block.**

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We're also very excited to have been accepted to participate in the Knoxville Market Square Farmers' MarketWe'll be down there the SECOND saturday of every month, bringing exciting stuff from our shop just across the river in South Knoxville. Wares will include mushroom grow kits, plug spawn for making mushroom logs, fresh mushrooms (when available), and much more. Jessica or Bob will be holding the fort, so please stop by and say "hi" and bring your mushroom gardening questions... we got answers!

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Jessica's new cooking blog, a primer on foraging edible mushrooms from Cathy, and workin' in the garden.

Being in the mushroom world, we are exposed to a lot of fungi enthusiasts. Folks that are passionate about all aspects of mushroom culture: foraging, cultivation, mycoremediation, cooking, health, nutrition, etc. We sometimes find ourselves overlooking the easy things that keep new shroomers from taking the dive and enjoying mushrooms more frequently. This is brought to light when we'll get questions like, "What the hell do I do with all these chanterelles popping up in my yard?"... Got butter and cream?

It's no joke, we've had a wet summer. We're 18 inches above our normal average rainfall. Roads are washing away... but it sure has been a good chanterelle season. It's led to a lot of folks in our store, and on the phone, looking for information about identifying wild mushrooms, picking and selling mushrooms, or just looking for cooking suggestions. We've probably seen five times the amount of picked chanterelles in our store this year. It got us to thinking about a fun and engaging way to bring more folks on board when it comes to enjoying these, and many other fine seasonal mushroom treats. Jessica was asked to prepare a regular blog feature for the website: Jessica's Kitchen Culture... to bring insights and suggestions for mushroom preparation in the kitchen. She's constantly experimenting and testing recipes with our mushroom garden produce, but also enjoying the influx of great foraged edibles. Be sure to check out her first installment: Wild chanterelles and cream over pappardelle.

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With all this wet, and relatively mild weather (it's been in the 80's here for weeks)... we've been enjoying a wonderful summer mushroom season. Loads of edibles, not just chanterelles, are up and prime... the flushes seem to just keep coming! Cathy was also inspired to prepare a short primer on wild mushroom foraging for Cathy's Lab blog. A forward into your first forage for fungal foods presents a good set of rules and guidelines for setting out in the woods. Armed with a few basic identification skills and a good guide book, there are a variety of mushrooms first time foragers can feel fairly confident identifying for the frying pan. However, always remember: Do not consumer ANY wild mushroom until it has been positively identified. Do not rely on just the information found here to identify edible mushrooms. Consult field guides and other websites before eating any foraged mushroom. Always cook foraged mushroom before eating

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Work in the demonstration garden continues with Jessica and Cathy pumping out lots of oyster mushroom bags and lion's mane blocks. We're harvesting and delivering weekly to local kitchens and markets while visitors to our store are able to peek in on what it takes to produce specialty mushrooms. If you're in the area, be sure to stop and check out what's shaken in the garden. We're hoping to have more regular photo updates and possibly some time lapse or video feeds, just to keep our online friends in the loop!

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Shiitake mushroom log workshop, Saturday May 4th @ 4pm... last of the season!

Mushroom logs! That's what we'll be doing... just one last time this spring. Join us for a casual and hands-on mushroom cultivation experience starting at 4pm on Saturday May 4th. All participants will create their own shiitake mushroom logs. Materials provided. Cost is $25 per log, couples or friends are welcome to share the experience.

Instruction will include a brief tune up on using powered drills. We will demonstrate the proper techniques for drilling and plugging recently cut hardwoods with fresh mushroom plug spawn. The "mushroom log" will require about one year of incubation time before it begins production, but once it gets going... expect mushrooms several times a year for years to come!

We'll discuss proper care and maintenance, along with tips on provoking mushroom harvests, harvesting techniques, and more. Shiitake mushroom logs are an exciting way to recycle recently cut hardwood and make use of shaded garden areas to produce a healthy and nutritious food!

Space is limited, advanced registration is required. Call 865.329.7566 or stop by our Knoxville showroom for more information. For those that want to wrap up their reservations quickly, we have an easy way to purchase tickets online... just click here for more information.

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We're expanding showroom hours, new guy Ryan, and fun times at the Mushroom Shop.

We're officially open every day 'cept Sunday! This week marked the beginning of expanded hours at our Knoxville showroom; now open noon - 6pm Monday through Friday, and noon - 4pm on Saturdays. We've long had the showroom closed on Mondays, and even more recently on Tuesdays... generally using this time to catchup from weekend Internet orders, or as project days to work on new material, etc. However recently we've noticed more and more folks stopping by anyway, and we figured it is probably a better idea for us to be ready for y'all and have some bright smiling folks on staff to assist you in your mushroom endeavors.

This brings us to Ryan. New guy Ryan is the most recent addition to our staff, taking on customer service responsibilities early in the week, and some lab related tasks (cough, cough), chores later in the week. You'll also likely see him here on Saturdays, when Jessica is either at Market, or working her culinary magicks at Organicism Farms and Foods. Here is Ryan, make him welcome. He's a mellow guy, with a great attitude and is enthusiastic about growing mushrooms. Ryan's been working with a variety of mushrooms for a while now, so he has some great insight to share and can assist with just about anything we have going on here...

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We're also expanding good times for everyone at the Mushroom Shop. This past weekend we hosted our first Spring Open House, which featured a workshop on growing oyster mushrooms from straw, and a fantastic dinner prepared by Jessica. We opened our doors at noon on Saturday and saw a good number of folks throughout the day! Jessica prepared some tasty snacks, including smoked shiitakes stuffed with savory blue cheese granola, mushroom pate with crispy crostinis and freshly picked green onions, and goat cheese, caramelized onion, and mixed mushroom flatbread.

At 4pm we closed shop and moved to our warehouse where Bob held a workshop for about a dozen students, detailing the steps and processes involved in growing oyster mushrooms from pasteurized straw. The 55 gallon drum was filled and fired up, straw was soaked and drained, and students filled and prepared their own oyster mushroom grow bag to take home.

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After the workshop, Jessica prepared a fantastic dinner, serving: greens and sprouts salad with porcini vinaigrette, freshly baked, locally fermented molasses sourdough with truffle salt oil, and mushroom and arugula lasagna with homemade porcini noodles and a black morel cream sauce. For dessert, a wonderful chaga-honey ice cream!

We are hoping to do these combination type events at least two or three times a year so please stay in touch, sign up for our email announcement list, follow us on facebook, or check our workshop and events announcement page for more details. We're expecting to announce one last shiitake mushroom log workshop this spring, likely for sometime in early May. 




Save the Date! Saturday April 6th: Everything Mushrooms Spring Open House, Workshop, and Dinner.

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We're excited to announce final details for our Spring Open House at Everything Mushrooms HQ! We are looking forward to a fun, casual, and informative afternoon of mushroomy nerdiness. Festivities will begin at noon, when we open for normal store hours. We'll have extra staff on hand, so come on down and visit, poke around, ask questions. Light mushroom snacks for tasting, warm chaga mushroom tea, and other goodies on hand throughout the day.

Things will get "serious" at 4pm, when we fire up the burners and hold court on growing oyster mushrooms from straw. This workshop will feature discussion and a hands-on demonstration. You'll learn about what it takes to properly chop, prepare, and pasteurize straw for oyster mushroom production. It's fun, and everyone will get to make their own oyster mushroom bag to grow at home! Space for the workshop is limited, $20 per person, so please call ahead or purchase your tickets online.

At 6pm we'll tidy up the straw mess and prepare for a spectacular dinner presented by Jessica Hammonds of Organicism Farms and Foods. Jessica is also the most recent addition to staff here at Everything Mushrooms, so she'll be flexing her mushroom culinary skills for all this evening. Food will feature mushroom themes, and we'll have other super local adult bevs on tap. Seating for dinner is also limited, $20 per person, so please call ahead or purchase tickets online.

For those that want to warp up their reservations quickly, we have an easy way to purchase tickets online... just click here for more information.

We are exciting to meet new folks interested in growing and gardening with mushrooms. Please make plans to join us at the Open House!

 




Spring open house and dinner April 6th, more from Cathy on mushroom plugs, and fresh chunky chaga.

We are fully into log plugging season! Cathy has been busy in the lab staying ahead with culture and spawn production, keeping fresh plugs and sawdust rolling out as often as possible. Despite long days in front of the laminar hood, she's also managed to kick out one helluva blog post, tackling many of the questions we receive including when is the best time to plug logs, and other nitty-gritty on mushroom log cultivation.

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We are updating inventory on a weekly basis, adding fresh spawn as it becomes available from the incubator. The inventory you see listed online represents our real-time, shippable supply of spawn or culture. Some varieties have been selling out on a weekly basis, and as a result we recalculate future runs based on increasing or seasonal demand. Please check back with us frequently, as many of these selections will be back online and should remain so as production is adjusted. We greatly appreciate your patience!

We do have these neat little "single log packs" of mushroom plugs that were made up for a few early season expos. This isn't a normal inventory item, and we don't see ourselves doing more of these in the future unless it is for more trade show type things. These are a great way to plug a log on the cheap, or they make very excellent and seasonally appropriate gifts! Supplies are limited and they are currently only available for shiitake, blue oyster, and king oyster mushrooms.

We're very excited to announce our Spring Open House and Dinner for Saturday April 6th! Activities begin in the afternoon and will include discussions on mushrooms in your garden, a hands-on workshop demonstrating how to grow oyster mushrooms from straw, and a tour of our demonstration garden. We will wrap up the evening with a delightful dinner prepared by Jessica Hammonds from Organicism Farms and Foods. Everyone is invited to come on down for the Open House, however workshop space and dinner seating is limited and will require advance purchase of a ticket, $40 per person. More details to be announced shortly!

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There have also been a good number of additions to the catalog since our last update. We're expanding our bookstore to carry some new titles, including The Sibley Guide to Trees. SO, what do trees have to do with mushrooms... pretty much everything when it comes to foraging for wild mushrooms. Knowledge of tree species, including winter identification is a great way to hone your mushroom locating skills. The Sibley guide is fantastic, with great illustrations. We've also added a fun new children's title, Theodore and the Talking Mushroom.

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If you follow our blog or updates, you've probably noticed some recent gushings about chaga mushroom. We love our chaga 'round here. We keep a tea brewing in our slow cooker just about all the time. It is always "on tap" for folks that stop by our retail store, so if you are curious about it, stop on by! It's a wonderful warm beverage on these cool late winter days! While we've had ground chaga available for a short time, we recently started carrying chunk form chaga supplied by sustainable domestic foragers. (In this case from Minnesota). These chunks are just the right size to make it is easier for us to portion out, so we are able to offer chunk chaga in approxomately 2oz portions for $6. Mix the chunks with desired amount of water in slow cooker and set to "keep warm." Using fresh chunks, you will have strong tea within 6-8 hours. Using a slightly hotter "low" setting (silly, we know)... you can cut the brew time down a bit. The more water you start with, the longer it will take to get up to strength. The chunks can be left in the slow cooker with the water, and reheated each day. The longer the chunks sit under heated or warm water, the stronger the brew.

At the mushroom shop, we keep a large, 8-quart slow cooker on the "keep warm" setting all day, topping off the consumed liquid and turning off the heat each evening before we leave. We often add as much as 8-10 new cups of fresh water on a daily basis, Monday through Friday, and we still find our chaga chunks to be producing a flavorful tea after 10 days. The tea becomes weaker, usually after about 2 weeks. Your milage may vary, but you get the picture. The chunks can be used over and over until they are too weak to satisfy. You'll get many quarts of yummy tea from your $6 bag of chaga chunks!

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Appalachian mushroom bread and new gizmos in the shop

In the latest installment of Cathy's Lab, Cathy shows us her take on a traditional baked good with roots in Appalachia. Pepperoni rolls were a lunch favorite of Italian coal miners in northern Appalachia. Rolled pepperoni breads were a hearty lunch that didn't need refrigeration. They are tightly packed which made them easy to carry around during a hard days work. Cathy's recipe replaces the pepperoni with protein rich mushrooms to make a satisfying and delicious bread roll... bread rolls so good they didn't even make it to the mushroom shop from Cathy's home kitchen.

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In her recipe, Cathy made use of a surprise winter crop of phoenix oyster mushrooms grown from burlap sacks in her garden. I suspect these rolls would be as good with just about any savory shroom, and we're looking forward to the next round of shiitakes from our mushroom logs to give it a go with something different. Hopefully we'll get to taste test them here at the shop... Cathy?

Cathy has also been tremendously busy in the lab producing healthy spawn and expanding our selection of available species in plugs, sawdust, and liquid culture. New material is coming online pretty much on a weekly basis these days, so while we are doing our best to update and maintain news announcements here on the webspace, we also highly recommend y'all consider signing up for our email newsletter. We'll be using this tool more frequently in the coming months for product announcements, helpful tips, and seasonally appropriate suggestions.

We've finally managed to find and stock a decent impulse sealer to support those using autoclave bags for mushroom spawn and block preparation. We've used all manner of sealers over the years and have settled on these units, which feature a 12 inch long element (wide enough for any of our bags) and a 5mm wide seal. That's the important part right there, a 5mm seal. Most of the available impulse sealers have a 2-3mm seal, which is just good enough to do the job when it comes to sealing autoclave bags. However, we find the 5mm wide seal to be superior in reliabiy producing air-tight, completely sealed bags. Furthermore, we're able to offer our 5mm sealer at the same price, if not cheaper than our competitors, who all use the narrower 2-3mm seal. Everything Mushrooms, For The Win! We also have replacement teflon and sealing elements, so you can easily service and repair your sealers to keep them running like new and in working order for many years.

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We're also rounding out our selection of replacement parts for All American brand pressure cookers and sterilizers. We've generally kept a few of the more important items on hand and available for purchase, but with these new additions we should be able to service just about all the common replacement parts for these units. Keep in mind, we have access to special order ANY and ALL parts for these canners and sterilizers, so if you need something and don't see it listed, please contact us and we'll get you sorted!

 




Time to plug logs and drink chaga mushroom tea.

Been cold out, and Knoxville got its first good snow in some time. Despite the chill in the air, we find ourselves looking forward to spring and projects in the mushroom garden. Plugging mushroom logs is a great seasonally appropriate endeavor to take advantage of the downtime and ready more productive material for the garden. Secure freshly cut hardwood (white oaks for shiitake if possible), use pieces about as big around and long as your leg, order up some plugs and waxing supplies... drill, tap, wax, and stack. We tell people all the time "it's not rocket science," and we mean it. Slightly more detailed instructions can be found here. Logs inoculated in late winter or early spring can sometimes have enough good incubation time to be producing by the fall. Generally it will take about a year before most mushroom logs are productive.

Cathy's also been very busy in the lab, bulking up our supply of mushroom plug spawn and adding some new species to the list. She's added beech clam mushroom, a cool weather shiitake, and pioppino mushroom. By expanding the mushrooms varieties available in plugs, gardeners can select varieties that may be more appropriate for the wood they have available. We're looking forward to experimenting with many of these mushrooms in our demonstration garden, so please stay tunes in the coming months as we catalog our progress and share the results. If you are interested in pursuing log culture of some of these non-traditional mushroom log varieties, we highly recommend picking up a copy of Paul Stamets book, "Mycelium Running." This title is full of useful suggestions for approaching log culture using a variety of mushroom species. It also details many other approachable mushroom gardening projects and is a valuable resource in any shroomer's library.

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About half our space here in mushroom shop central is open unheated and uncooled warehousey-like space. It's real pleasant most of the year, but when temps get down in the 20s at night, it gets downright nippy in there. To combat the chill in the air, Everything Mushrooms staffers have been keeping warm and infused with freshly brewing chaga mushroom tea. It's really neat how you can just toss a chunk of chaga mushroom in a slow cooker full of water, let it go at low for about eight hours and produce such a tasty, healthy, warming beverage. No other additives needed and the flavor is quite pleasant. Honey definitely helps, but we've also been pushing this off on folks who stop by, and most of them comment that it really needs no sweetening. You can read more about chaga mushroom and it's medicinal benefits in David Wolfe's book "Chaga, King of the Medicinal Mushrooms" We have freshly ground chaga available in 2oz portions. The ground chaga is added to water and allowed to rehydrate for 30 mins. Heat at low temp for 30 more minutes to several hours. The tea can be allowed to simmer but never boil. The ground chaga will brew a stronger tea a bit quicker than the chunk form. It can be strained out and reused for several brews or until it no longer brews a tea to your strength preference. We have the chunk form available at our retail store, however its irregular shape and weight make it difficult to "meter" for online sale. If you are interested in purchasing the chunk form and having it shipped, please give us a call, that's about the easiest way to handle it. Our 2oz ground chaga is $8, the chunk form is priced at $3/oz and available in store or by phone request.

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New store hours, new hands on deck, and a January calendar sale-special.

Happy New Year! We welcome 2013 with expanded store hours, a fresh face on the team, and a January long special on Beautiful Mushrooms of the World 2013 Calendar by Taylor Lockwood. We're hoping to clear out what remains of these beautiful calendars full of spectacular mushroom photography, for for the rest of the month we're taking 40% off and letting them go for $9 each! Not only that, but ALL ORDERS OVER $75 will receive a FREE calender. This is a great way to treat yourself with some of that extra Christmas money (gift card) you've been meaning to spend.

With the coming of the new year we also make welcome our newest team member, the talented and enthusiastic Jessica Hammonds. Jessica comes to us with a great deal of experience in farm to market, and more recently farm to table endeavors as owner/operator of Organicism Farms and Foods. She's done a good deal of oyster mushroom farming, having produced them at Organicism for sale at Knoxville's Market Square Farmer's Market. Jessica will be generally taking over duties in our Knoxville showroom, keeping shop and providing expert advice to our walk-in customers. She'll also be involved with phone and online customer support, so our frequent callers and customers will recognize a new voice on the other end of the phone. We're also excited to take advantage of her gardening skills as we begin continuous seasonal mushroom production at our East Tennessee facility.

And finally, with more hands on deck we'll also be expanding our retail show room and phone availability hours. Our show room will now be open Wednesday through Friday from noon until 6pm. This gives us, and our customers, an extra two hours to get more mushroomin' done in the day! We're also still open from noon until 4pm on Saturday.

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Holiday hours and shipping notices, sparkling ginger kombucha tea and some exciting new kits.

Just a quick note to update y'all on our holiday hours and shipping schedule. Our offices will be closed December 24 and 25, as well as December 31 and January 1. UPS doesn't even really pickup on these days anyway... so as a result, our phone support may be dead, and orders placed over the weekends may be delayed a little until shipping resumes. Our Knoxville showroom will be open during its normal hours for the rest of the month: Wednesday through Saturday from 12 until 4pm. As a side note, we're expecting to expand our showroom hours in the new year to accommodate more of our East Tennessee customers as well as visitors from afar. For the next two weeks, please be patient with email responses, as well as availability for phone support. What little staff we have on hand for the next two weeks will likely be pretty busy trying to stay caught up!

We will also not be producing any sterilzed rye product the week of December 24. All our sterilized rye product is prepared weekly, to customer's order and as a result any orders for sterilized rye based product will be delayed for shipping until the next run is produced on Dec 30th. You can place your order now and be placed in the queue for orders shipping after the New Year's holiday.

Cathy's been busy playing with Kombucha Tea lately. We've tried quite a few wonderful concoctions based on secondary ferments, fruit juice mixes, and most recently this wonderful sparkling ginger kombucha tea. Be sure to check out the latest addition to her Cathy's Lab blog for more information and recipe! For that matter, you really ought to be checking out her blog pretty often, she's producing new entries about twice a month now and has many exciting projects in the works!

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Cathy has also been hard at work producing some fun new mushroom kits. For the winter season we're now stocking Enoki Mushroom Block ready to grow kits. These are very easy to produce in the colder winter months, we just leave them out in our chilly-ish warehouse and they start fruiting around 50F. They'll even grow in the fridge! Commercial enoki is produced in clusters with elongated stems, which is easy to reproduce in the bag based grow block we provide in this kit. We're also working with a new (to us) oyster mushroom: Pleurotis cornucopiae. We have a limited amount of "experimental" blocks available for this mushroom, so if you're adventurous or just want a new oyster to play with, check out our Popcorn Oyster Mushroom Grow Blocks

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As always, have a safe and Happy Holidays! We know a lot of folks out there are going to be enjoying some pretty bizarre and mushroomy goodness as gift recipients!

 




Great holiday gift ideas and our winter organic rye sale.

The season of gift giving is upon us... whether you're into traditional holiday type stuff, or just enjoy giving to friends and family in celebration of all things wholesome and yummy. If that's the case, then we've certainly got some interesting stuff for you. Hey, who doesn't like getting a nice big piece of East Tennessee white oak incoulated with shiitake mushrooms! (well, it's actually kind of hard to wrap). Unfortunately these mushroom logs are only available for local sale, but for our friends across the globe we've also got loads of neat mushroom grow kits for simple and easy table top mushroom gardening (think "mushroom chia-pet"). For the mushroom enthusiast who already has a host of mushroom books and other goodies, there's also wonderful mushroom photography in Taylor Lockwood's Beautiful Mushrooms of the Year 2013 Calendar as well as these neat little (made in the USA) wooden slide top seceret boxes with mushroom engravings

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We've always had a section of our website dedicated to Great Gift Ideas... because gift giving is really an all season's affair. You never know when you might want to pickup a fungi based gift for that mycophile in your life. During this holiday season we've periodically updated, or changed out many of these items to reflect recent arrivals, neat gifting opportunities, or seasonally available goodies. Please check it often for things to tickle your fancy.

Every year about this time, I look at the remaining supply of our seasonal organic rye harvest and think, "it's time for this rye to move on..." Our current inventory of raw organic rye berries originates from fall 2011 harvest. We exercise great care sourcing and shipping our rye, maintaining it under refrigeration 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. We take every precaution available ensuring freshness and cleanliness to extend the usefulness of this product as a spawn media. It's time for us to order in the next round of rye, but we still have a good bit of inventory to clear out from last year's harvest. This rye is still PERFECTLY suitable for spawn production, and will likely last another 3-6 months if stored properly. In an effort to free up some space in the walk-in, we're BLOWING OUT this rye to make way for the next shipment. Discounted over 40%-off standard retail price! Supplies are limited to the current stock, and once it's gone we'll be ordering in the new harvest and prices will return to normal levels. Don't delay! Sale price is applied to 5lb bags as well as 25lb sacks.

 




Our little Cyber Monday sale!

Being that our humble mushroom company is primarily an internet based business, we feel a little more than obligated to participate in a some solid Cyber Monday type shenanigans. So, for this week only, we're knocking 20% off all sterilized substrates and mushroom grow media. Sale includes Sterilized Rye Mushroom Grow and Spawn Bag w/ injection site - 2lbSupplemented Sawdust Block w/ Rye Grain Pocket, Mushroom Grow Bag w/ injection site - 3lb, and all varieties of our PF Tek Mushroom Cake Substrate Jars - half pint wide mouth , sterilized. Remember, all sterilized substrate is cooked to order, on a weekly rotation, so please allow some delay in shipping your order. This ensures you will receive the freshest possible sterile product for your mushroom growing experiments! Discount is applied at checkout, so don't worry if it is not displaying until you are wrapping up your order.

Sale expires midnight Friday November 30, so yeah... it's a Cyber Monday sale that lasts all week. We know your inbox has been bombarded with "quick take 50% off everything, today only type sales." We don't play that way, and realize you have a lot of important shopping to get done while those type of sales are in progress. Take your time with ours... you have until Friday. Or place multiple orders throughout the week and really stretch it out and get your money's worth!

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Holiday hours update and recycling your grow blocks with oyster towers!

So I know we said we'd be closed over the holiday week, but a last minute change in plans has fortunately allowed us to to keep shop some normal shop hours. We will be CLOSED Thursday and Friday, but will be OPEN normal show room hours from 12-4pm on Wednesday and then again on Saturday. Come on down and see us, we have lots of great mushroom gift ideas for your holiday gift planning!

Ever wonder what to do with your mushroom grow kits, or sawdust spawn blocks once they are "done" producing mushrooms? How about recycling them into an exciting outdoor mushroom garden project! This week, Cathy has posted a wonderful write-up about her experiements creating oyster mushroom towers using spent grow blocks and sawdust spawn. The mycelium is still very active, and when given a new source of nutrient it is more than willing to thrive and continue producing tasty. Be sure to check out Cathy's Lab regularly for more interesting experiments, gardening tips, mushroom recipes and more!

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Due to the Thanksgiving holiday, our staffing is a little lighter than normal. Please be patient if you are attempting to contact us by email or phone this week. Postal Mail will not move on Thursday, so we will not have any outgoing mail after today. Also, UPS will not perform any Ground deliveries on Thursday or Friday, but Air shipments will be delivered on Friday... as a result of all this, expect some short and minor delays in shipping and package transit for the next few days. Thanks for understanding and have a safe and happy Thanksgiving holiday!




Introducing Cathy's Lab, new Kombucha goodies, and info on holiday hours.

Frequent visitors may recall we recently posted and interviewed for new positions at Everything Mushrooms. The fates brought us a tremendous group of applicants, but none more qualified than Cathy Scott. Cathy, who's managed a lab or two in her day... has quickly stepped into the swing of things, taking on the role of Chief Science Officer at our humble little mushroom factory. She's also a tremendous cook and enthusiastic fungal fanatic. We're dedicating a whole new section of web space specifically for Cathy to share her recipes, experiments, trials and tribulations. This little corner of space will be called "Cathy's Lab" and you can find it under the Info Zone menu on the left hand side of your screen. Cathy will be making updates frequently with new recipes, mushroom growing tips, and exciting experiments... so please check back often!

continuous-kombucha-brewing-01.pngWe've also been doing a lot of experimenting with Kombucha tea, attempting secondary fermentations, infusions, etc. Cathy's been creating some nice concoctions, so we should see some great recipes and brewing suggestions from her soon! In the meantime, this has led us to create some more options for our customers looking to brew Kombucha tea. The first is a kit for Continuous Kombucha Brewing - Manchurian Mushroom and Glass Beverage Dispenser. Continuous brewing is easy in these nice wide mouth glass dispensers. When you get low on Kombucha, just add more sweet tea. it'll take a few days of brewing for the SCOBY to ferment the fresh tea addition, but that's it! The dispenser makes it easy to taste the beverage throughout the fermentation cycle, or use it as a base beverage to mix with other juices and drinks. We've also made our Kombucha Starter Culture available in a Kombucha Kit that includes just about everything you need to brew: one half-gallon glass jar, one 90mm filter disc, and starter culture. 

Holiday Hours Update: We're a small shop, with a small staff, and we all love our families... yes, even more than our mushrooms! Unfortunately the stars did not align properly this year for us to have any staff available to man the shop and ship during the Thanksgiving holiday break. As a result, our retail showroom will be closed from Weds-Sat, November 21-24. We will be available for phone orders, and shipping will continue through Weds November 21. We will reopen and commence shipping again on Monday November 26. UPS takes a few days off too, so that also delays shipping during this week. We have restructured our sterilization runs accordingly, so customers will still continue receiving fresh sterilized substrate orders within the normal shipping timeframes. We deeply regret any inconvience this may cause, and hope to hear from you with your order (or see you in our store) before the break, or when we get swingin' again on the other side!



Wisdom gained in the preparation of sterilized mushroom media.

rye-berry-injector-bag-3lb.-l.jpgWe've been preparing and shipping sterilized mushroom media for a good many years now. Experience is an invaluable teacher when it comes to this sort of thing, even with the guidance of wonderfully crafted manuals, mushroom resource books, and other references. One thing we have learned through the years, especially when it comes to the preparation and utilization of rye berries as a spawning media: FRESH is king. Forr this reason we have enacted the following policy in regards to the prepping and shipping of the Sterilized Rye Mushroom Grow and Spawn Bag w/ injection site - 2lb:

All sterilized rye is prepared to order and shipped early each week. As a result, sterile rye only moves through our sterilizers early in the week to ensure we can ship requested orders between Monday and Tuesday. Most orders will make delivery by the end of the week, providing you with the freshest possible sterilized product for spawn preperation. We do not hold this product on our shelves. Customers will experience a related delay in shipping. The cut-off for submitting orders to be included in the weekly sterilizing run is Sunday noon EST. Orders placed later in the week will be delayed until the next run of sterilized rye. Sterilized rye is prerpared every week, so you will wait no longer than 7 days before receiving shipment notification (worst case scenario).

So basically, any order we receive before noon EST on Sunday will be prepared for shipping Monday-Tuesday. If your order comes in after Sunday, it is likely your request will be delayed until the next weekly run of rye the following week. Customers should not experience any delay longer than 5-7 days for rye to be prepped for shipping. The preparation and shipping schedule ensures all our customers will receive the freshest possible product for their mycological endeavors, with no product lingering on the shelves or being held up during weekend transit. Many of our substrates are prepared to order, including our popular Supplemented Sawdust Block w/ Rye Grain Pocket, Mushroom Grow Bag w/ injection site - 3lb. However, we have found the PF Tek Mushroom Cake Substrate Jars - half pint wide mouth , sterilized to be a bit more shelf stable and will generally have these stocked for immediate shipping, as we prepare them often throughout the week.

pre-poured-plates-01-l.jpgWe have also suspended preparation and shipping of the quart jars containing 500ml of pre-sterilized agar media. These were quite honestly a pain in the rear. They were heavy, unstable in shipping, and not easy to use. The goal of this product was to provide the home/hobby mycologist with access to easy materials for tissue culturing on nutrient rich agar petri dishes. So to tackle this problem we extensively tested preparation, storage, and shipping of pre-poured nutrient agar petri dishes and found we could supply this more suitable and easier to use product for an attractive and reasonable price. We use our in house Malt Extract Agar Light - MEA to prepare, seal, and vacuum pack these dishes in our sterile lab. The Pre-poured malt extract agar petri dishes, pack of four are supplied in sealed packs of four, allowing you to only expose four dishes at a time for quick tissue culture, cloning, inocuation with culture in syringes syringes, streaking spore prints, etc. We've also modified the Agar Culturing Kit - Basic to now include two packs of these pre-poured dishes, that's eight pre-poured dishes. Adding these, and removing the previously supplied sleeve of petri dishes and jar of pre-sterilized agar has allowed us to reduce the shipping weight of the Basic Kit... and make it a few bucks cheaper!



New oyster mushroom kits, garden progress, and price increases

phoenix-oyster-01.jpgWe're happy to now include phoenix oyster mushroom (Pleurotus pulmonarius) as part of our Ready to Grow mushroom kit lineup. Like the other two oysters we offer, this is an aggressive fruiter, producing clusters of brown to tan mushrooms. Fruits abundantly and is very forgiving. Give it plenty of fresh air, keep the humidity high and you'll be sitting on a pile of tasty phoenix oyster mushrooms! Phoenix oyster is also available as 6lb blocks of sawdust spawn for those wanting to move it onto other bulk fruiting substrates. These 6lb blocks also work great as large fruiting blocks.

north-bed-04.30.jpgWork continues on our demonstration garden. It's likely you'll see a link pop up in the navigation menu on the left hand part of your screen. This will contain a link to information about our garden and the projects ongoing. The veggies and ornamentals seem to be doing well. With little rain the last week, we've begun watering daily and are updating our irrigation system for drip and spray emitters. Blocks of mushroom spawn are getting ready in the incubator and we hope to be planting maitake, king stropharia,  and black poplar mushroom patches shortly.

And lastly, a bit of unpleasant news... we've experienced a round of price increases, primarily with our lab supply products. We generally see these annually, but have been ordering in quantities that have helped us avoid being too reactive to rising supplier costs. We held out as long as we could, but some of our basic lab staples are jumping up a little. If you notice some things are a few bucks more, this is why... primarily hit are the nalgene erlenmeyer flasks as well as the larger agar culturing kits. We will continue to keep prices as low as possible for as long as possible on many of these items.



New items on the shelves!

shiitake-09.24.12.jpegTemperatures are falling and we've been blessed with some shiitake log soaking rains recently! Fall is fully on and we're watching as the leaves slowly start to change. Two days of record rainfall brought us a nice fall crop of shiitakes from our stacks. The long, and relatively mild growing season this year has blessed us with ample mushroom harvests. If you have logs out, and are getting frequent rain... be sure to check on them from time to time! Even in the cooler temps, the shiitakes can be fairly fast growing and it is easy to miss them without weekly log inspection!

mushroom-box-medium-2-l.jpgWe're excited to bring some new products into the store as we continue expanding our selection of crafts, books, and other mushroom gardening and foraging gear. We have some woderful friends who run a store in Charleston, SC that specialize in wood puzzles, games, boxes, and gifts. The place is called Turle Creek, and they have a beautiful retail store on North Market Street, and setup daily in the Charleston city market. Steve, puzzle box guy extraordinaire, recently turned me onto these neat little slide top secret wood boxes made by Heartwood Creations in Rockford, IL. Heartwood does a variety of these boxes with wonderful inlays, carvings, patterns, etc. Heartwood also just so happens to have a neat laser engraved mushroom scene secret box that they dug out of the archives. Not sure you can find these in many places, but we placed our order and are now stocking these boxes in four sizes, with two selections of wood. The small sized box is pretty tiny, maybe like a vitamin or pill box. The x-large still fits in the palm of your hand and has enough depth and volume to hold something about the size of a tube of lipstick. The small, medium, and x-large are available in padauk (an African rosewood) or cherry. The large box is available in padauk or teak.

The bookstore has found a new titles on the shelf. We have two new wonderful cookbooks to mention. The first, The Wild Table, Seasonal Foraged Food and Recipes, by Connie Green and Sarah Scott, is an amazing selection of recipes and information about commonly foraged food. This book belongs on the shelf of anyone who loves to gather wild food... mushrooms and much, much more. Mushrooms are also king in Mediterranean cuisine, and for that reason we found an excellent cookbook featuring mushroom in many recipes: Modern Mediterranean Cooking, by Elena Balashova. Be sure to check out both of these titles, and the many more finding their way to our shelves.



Some summer mushrooms and a short summer break

We'll be taking a short summer break from July 28th through August 4th. Our online order processing and shipping will continue during this time, however just about all our "front of the store" type folks will be on leave. The result: our Knoxville showroom will be closed during these days and phone support and customer service may be very limited. For best response, please send your questinos and inquiries by email to: orders@everythingmushrooms.com. Everyone will be back on board Monday August 6th.

chicken03-07.25.jpgWith the exception of the last few days, most of July has been pretty wet here in East Tennessee. A blessing, considering the state of drought in much of the country. We got a little skunked on Chanterelles earlier this summer, when things got hot and dry very quickly. We saw a short season, with much of it dying back. Even with the rains in July, we haven't really seen them recover... however we have been blessed with some great looking clusters of chicken of the woods. The mushroom pictured here were found less than 3 miles from our South Knoxville shop. Cathy has been busy testing new recipes and is honing up a good garden style veggie burger using the chicken as its base. Trim the tender outer rings of this mushroom for best eats, leave the tough center section for the stock pot. Treat it just like chicken. Grill it, sautee it, it will take flavors well. Goes great in crepes. Get out and find some while the gettin' is good!

We're off for the next week, so ya'll enjoy the last bits of Summer. We'll hit the ground running when the full crew returns and look forward to gearing up for the Fall and holiday seasons. New mushroom kits, cultures, spawn, and accesories will be making their way to the website soon, so please check back in with us frequently!



Summer spawn sale!

Things tend to slow down a little bit for us over the summer months. The gardens are planted, the logs are plugged, and folks have their attention squarley focused on staying in the shade, finding a beach, or just staying indoors and enjoying some conditioned air. Occassionally we find ourselves with an over-abundance of mushroom spawn, and this just so happens to be the case right now. The slower season, coupled with a higher level of spawning success has left us flush with mushroom mycelium. In times like these it is best to mark it all down and move it out the door! So until July 6th we're knocking 25% off all mushroom spawn and ready to grow kits! This includes all Mushroom Grow Kits, Mushroom Plug Spawn, and Mushroom Spawn Blocks. Time to jump on in and pick up a kit or two, or stock up on some experimental mushroom spawn for projects around the garden!

bonnaroo-2012-shiitake-workshop-2.jpegWe also wanted to take a minute to thank the folks who attended our workshops this year at the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival in Manchester Tennessee. We are lucky to have been asked to teach in the Academy at Planetroo as part of the sustainability team. We presented a hands-on mushroom log workshop on Friday at 10am and a collaboration on brewing Kombucha Tea on Saturday. The workshops were well attended, and we appreciated the enthusiam of our students! We hope to see you again next year with some new and exciting mushroom workshops!



May mushrooms, milky, and more!

shiitake01.05.21.jpgMay has been a busy month at Everything Mushrooms. We're busy interviewing for additional staff, our garden is thriving, and spawn has been flowing... you could say business is mushrooming! Generally things are a bit slower for us during the month of June. The heat takes its toll on mushrooms, but many gardeners and growers around the country have devised creative solutions for keeping things growing, even during the 90F+ days. 

The first week of June finds us traveling to the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival in Manchester Tennessee. We will be teaching several workshops at the Planetroo Academy, including mushroom log gardening on Friday June 8th at 10am, and a tutorial on kombucha tea preparation and care at 10am on Saturday June 10am. These are hands-on workshops with take away goodies and guided instruction. Hope to see some of you there!

Work also continues in the demonstration garden. Irrigation is installed and on a timer. The tomato plants in the north bed are thriving. Our peppers in the north planter are showing. Mushroom spawn blocks for maitake mushroom, black poplar, and king stropharia are all working in our incubator, anxiously awaiting planting in the raised bed soil. We'll soon be restacking our mushroom logs and making way for outdoor mushroom greenhouses. Check in with us frequently to follow their installation.

May has been fairly dry, but we had a good soaker about mid-month, which led to a nice spring shiitake crop. We're always excited to find mushrooms popping from the logs, discovering this most recent batch "just in time" as we came into work one Monday morning. More recently, May has also been a scortcher, with several days already over 90F here in the Tennessee Valley. Imagine our surprise to come in to find a few shiitake's popping off after an especially hot Memorial Day weekend. This is one awesome mushroom!

milky01.05.25.jpgEverything Mushrooms is constantly experimenting with new and interesting mushroom kits for the home gardener. We especially like kits that require very little care or upkeep. For these warm summer months, we thought to give the milky mushroom a try. Preliminary tests have been very successful and we hope to bring this excotic Indian mushroom to market very soon. It will have limited seasonal availability as this mushroom will suffer in cooler temps. We also plan to make culture of Calocybe indica available, likely on petri dish or as slants.

Please check in with us frequently over the next few weeks. Exciting new items will be released, including some biolumenescent mushroom kits!



We're hiring!

Everything Mushrooms is offering a part-time job opportunity with full-time potential. We are seeking interested candidates with experience or familiarity with mushroom gardening and cultivation. This part-time opportunity will require daytime, and some Saturday availability for 15-20 hours weekly. The part-time position is designed to provide on-the-job training for many of our specialized tasks and will continue for an appropriate period, after which qualified candidates may be offered increased responsibilities and benefits as a full time member of our staff.

Previous or current experience with mushroom cultivation and gardening, or basic lab biology and sterile procedure is a serious plus. Applicants should possess basic computer and customer service skills, familiarity with social media, and be comfortable in a retail sales environment. We are seeking hard working, self-motivated, independent thinkers who can operate productively in a dynamic work environment.

Job responsibilities may include:

  • Interfacing with customers through local show room sales, internet, and phone ordering

  • Maintenance of retail show room, product stocking, and inventory tracking

  • Preparation of sterile mushroom substrates and spawn

  • Maintenance of mushroom culture in sterile environments

  • Participate in mushroom cultivation and gardening projects

  • Packaging and delivery of fresh mushrooms to local kitchens and markets

We are accepting resumes at 1004 Sevier Ave, 37920 or via email to bob@everythingmushrooms.com until 5pm Friday, May 25th. Please supply a resume, interest letter, or other supporting documents showcasing your unique skills. Interviews will be conducted the week of May 28th.



Everything Mushrooms is throwing down some roots!

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We've had an exciting week! This previous Saturday we were very fortunate to place the winning bid at an absolute auction to purchase the building we currently lease on Sevier Avenue in South Knoxville. This will allow Everything Mushrooms to throw down some roots and really get comfortable. We're excited for the opportunites! We're also excited to become a permanent part of a wonderful community, and hope the energy and spirit we bring to our pursuits helps in any way possible to improve our environment. Look for new and exciting things coming out of the mushroom shop!

One such project on the short list is the establishment of our outdoor demonstration mushroom garden. This garden is designed to showcase mushroom growing and cultivation techniques, demonstrating proper installation and care of mushroom logs and mushroom patches. We will also be hanging a few oyster mushroom bags in our shadehouse and showcasing other popular mushroom gardening techniques and procedures. 

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This week found us cleaning up and prepping our raised garden beds. These wonderful large stone beds were laid for us by our good friend Dave Curry. They offer two large planting areas, with two smaller stepped planters. The two large beds will be planted with vegetables in the larger North Bed (gets more sun), and we'll put ornamentals in the smaller South Bed (much more shade). We have two large round planters as well. One will get an ornamental tree, probably a Japanese Maple... under which we plan a Japanese themed mushroom block bed featuring maitake mushrooms. All the beds are filled with fresh topsoil and compost mixture. We had a lone survivor from last year, so we just tilled around her!

Veggies and ornamenals will be installed over the next week or two, with mushroom patch blocks and wood chip beds going in shortly thereafter. We want to get them in before it gets too warm. Then we'll turn our attention to filling out our shade house with oyster mushrooms, and possibly expanding into an outdoor greenhouse that can be controlled for seasonal mushroom block production (shiitake, enoki, lion's mane, etc).

If you're local, come on down and check out the progress! If you're not-so-local, keep your eye on our website for new updates, pictures, instrucstionals, videos, etc... all made possible by the work we'll be doing in this demonstration garden.



Showroom Closed Saturday March 10th

Sorry for the short notice, but it looks like the showroom will be closed on Saturday March 10th. I'll be attending an exciting conference, Eat Play Live Knoxville just up the road at the L&N STEM Acadmey. Unfortunately we didn't have any other soul that could keep store hours that day! We'll be reopened normal showroom hours the rest of the week (Weds - Saturday : 12-4pm). Thanks for your understanding!



St. Valentine's shiitake grow kit special!

shiitake-l.jpgShiitake mushrooms are good for a lot of things. They're easy to grow, good for your immune system, taste great, turn grey hair black, add spring to your step, put pep in your pepper, etc. I'm also pretty sure St. Valentine would approve of growing your own, or sharing the experience of growing your own with the one you love, besides... we also have fresh loads of shiitake mushroom block ready to grow kits popping out of our incubators. So to stimulate your love for shiitake, we're knocking 20% off the price of these kits. Grow your own blocks for $15? Yep! Sale will run until the end of the week, because we know mushrooms are probably the last thing on your mind February 14th...



New hours for our Knoxville showroom and phone order support

showroom.jpgInterest in our mushroom kits and spawned product has picked up a bit this season! As a result, we're trimming back the hours we are available to walk-in customers at our Knoxville showroom. Our new showroom hours are Wed-Sat 12-4pm. 

With about 98% of our business being shipped on a daily basis; the packing, processing, and management of inventory takes a good deal of attention from our small and highly dedicated staff. We've been experimenting with ways to better serve all our customers and remain available for support at our local showroom. To be responsive to email inquiry, and available to take your calls throughout the day. The beginning of our week is always the busiest, as we are packing and shipping orders received over the weekend in addition to preparing fresh substrates and spawned products. Keeping the showroom closed Monday and Tuesday allows us to dedicate the time and attention needed to these tasks, while also continuing to develop new and exciting goodies for mushroom lovers.

Phone ordering support will still be available all week, Monday through Friday, from 11am to 4pm. Please be patient if you do not reach someone the first time you call, and perhaps try your call a little later. Better yet, send us an email... believe it or not, it is usually quicker! Our hope is that dedicating this time specifically to phone support will help us get to more calls each day. We don't do voicemail, so if you have something important to get to us, email is generally the best way to do so.

Our shipping office and mushroom production lab remains open to process and ship orders Monday through Friday 9am to 5pm. That means we're here, working the 9-5, trying to get your mushroom stuff to you as quickly as possible. We produce all our mushroom culture, spawn and grow kits in-house. Mycelium requires constant attention, and we're happy to have so much of it around us these days! We greatly appreciate the continued support of our patrons, and thank youf or your patience as we continue to grow and mushroom!



Free calendars and firewood export bans

We've got a few extra 2012 calendars hanging around, so for the month of February: Free Beautiful Mushrooms of the World 2012 Calendar for all orders over $50! You don't need to enter any special codes, just spend over $50 (shipping not included) and we'll toss one in with your order when it ships! Taylor Lockwood's stunning photography makes for a very slick mushroom calendar. A great gift for anyone, or just something funky to grace your cubical wall!

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You may have noticed for some time now that our mushroom logs have been listed as "sold out." This is a little misleading. We always have mushroom logs... or at least almost always have mushroom logs. The problem lately has been that Knox County Tennessee (our home sweet home) is currently under a hardwood firewood export ban as the result of Emerald Ash Borer infestation in East Tennessee. The regulation restricts the movement of firewood of all hardwood (non-coniferous) species. Our white oak logs are harvested fresh, plugged quickly, stored in our protected demonstration garden, and we believe them to be unaffected by the EAB.  Although our logs are not firewood and are not exposed to firewood lots, we still feel it is responsible for us to abide by this movement restriction. Therefore, for the foreseeable future, mushroom logs will not be available for shipping.

We still maintain a stock of mushroom logs at our demonstration garden and showroom in Knoxville. Customers are more than welcome to stop by for local pickup and purchase. We generally keep a selection of logs, and may have them in various sizes, shapes, prices, etc. 




Lots of new books, and a super nice blog post about our shop

Thanks to John Tullock from The New American Homestead for stopping by this last week and featuring us in a blog post. I always enjoy talking with folks like John, who are knowledgible about the subject matter and are interested in exploring fungi to fit a specific purpose. In his case, it is the focus of his blog: sustainaible, self-sufficient living in the urban environment. We hope to be working with John in the future, possibly through some expanded workshop opportunities.

We've also beefed up our bookstore inventory a little bit. We've added ten or so new and interesting titles, including: 

Wild Fermentation - The Flavor, Nutrition, and Craft of Live-Culture Foods by Sandor Ellix Katz

The Fungal Pharmacy, The Complete Guide to Medicinal Mushrooms and Lichens of North America by Robert Rogers

The Mushroom in Christian Art, The Identity of Jesus in the Development of Christianity by John A. Rush

The Rainbow Beneath My Feet - A Mushroom Dyer's Field Guide by Arleen Rainis Bessette and Alan E Bessette

Edible and Medicinal Mushrooms of New England and Eastern Canada by David L. Spahr

Work continues on supplying fresh Ready to Grow mushroom grow kits. These are produced weekly at our in-house lab in Knoxville TN and are shipping as fresh as possible to ensure healthy and satisfying production from your kit. Check out what's currently available and shipping!



Beautiful mushroom calendars on sale until the end of the year.

Taylor Lockwood is one heck of a mushroom photographer. His work has been well represented in a series beautiful books and posters. This year we were fortunate enough to grab a load of his slickly produced 2012 mushroom calendars. Now it is getting on towards the end of the year and we'd like to see these move on to happy homes, cubicles, dorm rooms, offices, kitchens, etc. So for the meantime we're pricing them as low as we can at $10.95 (over 25% off retail)!

We'd also like to take this opportunity to plug Taylor's other wonderful products. These include some very colorful mushroom mousepads, stationary, and very informative and well produced mushroom identifcation DVDs.  There are also several striking coffee table style books with stunning photography; Treasures from the Kingdom of Fungi, and Chasing the Rain. Taylor is a fun-guy and is great at what he does. Pick up some of his goodies and you'll see what we're talking about!

 



Mushroom Grow Kits make great holiday gifts!

shiitake-l.jpgMushroom Grow Kits make excellent holiday gifts! What better way to surprise that "impossible to buy for" friend or family member than with an odd, interesting, and rewarding mushroom growing experience! We've also revived our Great Gift Ideas product section for those that might need some hints or suggestions for interesting and fun fungal things we have on hand during the gift giving season.

Keep in mind that mushroom grow kits and other living mushroom material is best given as fresh as possible. Secure your's now and dispense the mushroom joy quickly! Quantity on hand represents actual shippable inventory, so you can be assured of your gift in time for the holidays.



Black Friday Sale - 20% off all mushroom plug spawn!

Lately, we've been working extra hard to expand and maintain our offering of mushroom plug spawn. The fruits of our labor are paying off, so we now have a healthy selection of different mushroom species. Being that most folks tend to get wild with "Black Friday Sales" this time of year... we figured it was worth getting on board! Until midnight, Monday November 28, we're knocking 20% off ALL mushroom plug spawn! We're stretching this sale until Monday, so it'll technically qualify as a "Cyber Monday" sale too... Don't delay, be sure to take advantage of our bandwagon jumping, and flush inventory! Discount applied automatically during checkout.



Ample rain from late summer storms have fungus in full bloom

shiitake-02-09.12.jpgIt looks like the soaking rains from the likes of Hurricane Irene as well as reminents of Tropical Storm Lee are making conditions very ideal for wild mushroom harvests all up and down the east coast. NPR's Weekend Edition Saturday is reporting abundant wild mushroom fruitings in the Northeast. Harvests are so abunant as to even gardner a segment on NPR's Talk of the Nation. On the other hand, the Huffington Post is also reporting that these same ideal mushroom distribution and fruiting conditions will also bode well for a bumper crop of funkadelic fungi.

Either way, we wanted to make mention of this. If you have mushroom patches or mushroom logs working, get out and check 'em. We pulled a nice little late-summer crop from our logs just last week. If things have been mild and wet where you are, it might be worth lacing up the hiking boots and getting out to check some of the good wild mushroom spots. We always love seeing our customer's wild mushroom hunting photos and would love to repost them in the blog (with your permission). 



Need raw? We got it raw: wood pellets, perlite, coco coir and more

shiitake-01-09.13.11.jpgThere is loads of stuff that we have laying around here, stuff we use every day. Not sure why, but we just now got around to packaging some of it up for our customers. We were already sort of doing this anyway, for the drop in customers that pickup locally. However now we have measured and portioned servings of raw substrates and casing materials. Available online now: one gallon bags of perlite, two quart bags of hard wood pellets, and 650gram blocks of compressed coco coir


We also had a wonderful bloom of shiitakes from the mushroom logs over the weekend. Check your logs! Cooler temps and frequent soaking rains should have mushrooms very happy all up and down the East Coast and South East.



Everything Mushrooms online v2.0 released!

Hello all and welcome to Everything Mushrooms version 2.0! As you can see, the website has a fresh, updated look. We've switched website platforms, moving to a system that allows us to manage our fluid inventory a little more effectively, while at the same time offering our customers a professional and easy to use online shopping experience. Our new website will also allow us to incorporate and produce more mushroom specific content.

This blog feed section will be updated regularly with posts from our staff about new and upcoming stuff, random mushroom musings, and mushroom related news items. Our Info Zone section will contain updated prodcut instructions, how-to quides, instructions videos, an expanding recipe section, and much more! Please check back with us often as our website's content will be updated and refreshed frequently!

We also want to take this opportunity to solicit feedback. Are features of the new system not working well for you? Need to report a bug or error? Something about the new system got you all hot and bothered? Please contact us with your feedback, bug reports, or suggestions!



Glowing "Ghost" Mushrooms Reappear in Brazil After 170 Years

Glowing "Ghost" Mushrooms Reappear in Brazil After 170 Years

Reposted from Treehugger

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Photo: Panellus stipticus, one species of glowing mushrooms (Wiki Commons)

If you think glowing mushrooms are the figment of some trippy imagination, think again. After its initial discovery back in 1840, one of the most bioluminescent species of mushroom known to humans was not seen again until a pair of primatologists recently stumbled upon it in the Brazilian forests.

Known as Neonothopanus gardneri, it's one of the 71 recognized species of bioluminescent mushrooms -- out of 100,000 identified fungi species -- and can grow up to three inches in diameter. Sometimes called "ghost mushrooms" due to their eerie appearance, they are also poisonous to humans, and glow so bright that one can use their green light to read a newspaper in a dark room......



Japanese Mushroom Commercials

These are some great mushroom commercials from Japan.