Shiitake (Lentinus edodes)
Shiitake mushrooms (pronounced Shee ta' kay) are native to China, Japan, and Korea and have been grown on logs for at least a thousand years. The earliest recorded cultivation was in the Sund Dynasty (960-1127 AD) Today Shiitake are the best mushroom for beginners to grow. The mycelium can clearly be seen growing and maturing on the cut ends of logs and mature Shiitake logs fruits readily when soaking in cold water.
Shiitake translates to Oak Mushrooms but Shiitake grows happily on a wide variety of hardwood logs and sawdust.
We have 15 strains of Shiitake but unless requested would recommend you try Adam, an all-round 'wide range strain' which I have trialled on a variety of log types throughout the UK for nearly 20 years
Pearl Oyster (Pleurotus ostreatus)
Pearl Oyster mushrooms or Tree Oysters are found worldwide. Commonly found in the UK on broad-leaf hardwood fallen branches and trees from Spring to Autumn. The Pearl Oyster quickly grows on any woody materials from hardwood logs and straw, to paper and coffee grounds.
It has a lovely flavour requiring little cooking. Excellent in stir fries and Italian dishes.
Lions Main (Hericium erinaceus)
This very unusual mushroom has many very descriptive common names such as Monkeys Head, Old Man's Beard, Hedgehog Mushroom and Pom Pom. All these names describe a white ball shape with cascading white spines. It is hard to find in the wild and is classed as an endangered species in Europe. However you can grow and enjoy this mushroom from your garden. It grows slowly on logs and fruits in late Summer to early Autumn. A lovely mushroom which when cooked retains its crispness like bean sprouts. Excellent with smoked salmon.
Indian oyster (Pleurotus pulmonarius)
This Oyster mushroom happily grows on both hardwoods and conifers. Like the Pearl Oysters, Indian Oysters rapidly grow on a wide range of woody materials. It fruits earlier in the Spring and has thicker fleshes than its cousin.
Reishi (Ganoderma lucidium)
Reishi are poly-pore mushrooms which produce woody conks. Medicinally the mushrooms are dried and used in teas with health stimulating properties. This very interesting mushroom can be found in the wild or you can grow it in your garden enjoying its shapes and colour. In China it is given as a gift to bring prosperity to the home.
Chicken of the Woods (Laetiporus sulphureus)
An exciting mushroom to find in the wild, the Chicken of the Woods is bright yellow with a texture of cooked chicken. I have cultures found on oak, beech and willow but prefer my beech strain from Aberdeenshire which is now happily grown in a wide variety of sites throughout the UK.
This is a big mushroom so you need a big log or stump and a spot which will not get too dry. Do not eat raw as it can cause gastric upsets if uncooked.
Turkey Tail (Trametes versicolor)
Like Reishi, Turkey Tails produce woody conks which are highly rated medicinally. I like them for the colour and shape of the mushrooms, like a turkeys tail, producing zones of colour as they grow. Can be dried and used in teas.
Maitake (Grifola frondosa)
Commonly known as the Hen of the Woods or the Cloud Mushroom it resembles a mother hen fluffing her feathers. It is found at the base of trees and stumps. Like Chicken of the woods it is a big mushroom so you need a big log or stump and a spot which will not get too dry. My favourite culture was found in Perthshire on beech.
When I was in China, this mushroom was used extensively in soups giving a rich, wonderful fungal flavour.
King Stropharia (Stropharia rugoso)
Commonly known as the wine cap because it is a rich deep burgundy colour when it first breaks through the soil. Stropharia can grow easily on a wide variety of readily available garden, farm or forest products. Stropharia is native to Europe and the USA growing in forest leaf littler and rich woodland soil. Cultivation began during the 1960s in East Germany on straw covered potato beds. It is difficult to produce commercially as the mushrooms are easily broken and hard to transport. I like to grow it in a deep mixed mulch bed incorporating any of the following. - Hardwood sawdust, straw, wood chips, cardboard, shredded garden woody prunings etc. The moisture is very important; if you cannot soak the components of the deep bed for 2 days once you have made it, run a hose on it for several hours.
Supplied growing on large pegs, the tip of which can be pressed into the ground leaving the tops deep in the wet mulch to allow the mushroom mycelium to spread throughout the material. Early Spring beds will fruit in the same year; Autumn beds will fruit the following year. Beds will keep fruiting as long as you keep topping them up with fresh woody material.
Best picked young at about a fist in size and can be used in all your mushroom recipes.