Why are we so fearful of mushrooms?

by Renee Lindstrom, GCFP–Living in Natures Love Lifestyles @insideawareness.com

Amanita muscaria mushroom

When I am excited about finding a new type of mushroom or even considering culturing my own mushrooms,  the first thing others share back with me is, “You have to be careful, they can be dangerous.”  (or some other similar phrase)  It’s a downer for sure and quite frankly the cautionary tone is annoying.  If you haven’t researched mushrooms yourself you cannot be an educated authority on the topic.

I have never met anyone who has gotten ill or died from eating mushrooms.  I have met those who have gotten deathly ill from eating oysters, restaurant food and commercially sold food products.   In many decades of life I have heard only a few stories of people who died from eating mushrooms in the Province of B.C., where I live.  When I google how many people have died in B.C., from eating mushrooms in the past few decades, NO factual research shows up!  There are many warnings though about the Death Cap Mushrooms.  Specifically in the Greater Victoria region.

Having written this, it doesn’t mean I recommend going out and eating any old mushroom without researching it first.  I recommend foragers research the mushrooms they find to confidently know their mushrooms are edible and that they have reassurance they are not poisonous.  Don’t assume mushrooms are safe because they are growing in urban areas.  Do your due diligence and find answers through foraging mentors, experts and/or through field guides, local groups, etc.

Surprised by arrival of the Prince of all Mushrooms – agaricus augustus

Growing Living Foods from the Grocer:  Mushrooms

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Living foods from the grocer: Mushrooms

by Renee Lindstrom, GCFP–Living in Natures Love Lifestyles @insideawareness.com

Asking myself if mushrooms from the grocer are living foods initiated some simple mushroom growing experiments.  Beginning with researching and finding that most information out there on growing mushrooms is so cautionary one hesitates to even get started.  That brought up the second question, “Can it be simplified and fun to grow one’s own mushrooms?”

Here are some common mushrooms we found at the grocer:

Oyster Mushroom experiment –  June 26, ’18

Reading how easy it is to grow Oyster Mushroom Spores in household mediums.  I had read that the base of the mushroom could be used too if it had enough of its root system still attached.  I decided to attempt to try to grow Oyster Mushrooms from the store.  The Oyster mushrooms from the grocer didn’t have spores under their caps so I am trying to grow new mushrooms from the stocks with large butts left on them.  The Oyster Mushroom caps are very delicate and look like they have been handled  a lot sitting on the grocer shelves.  My question is if they will still grow?

Growing Oyster Mushrooms


Portobello Mushrooms

Portobello Mushroom experiment  – June 25, ’18

After purchasing Portobello Mushrooms from the grocer I inspected the caps to observe any spores that may be in between the mushroom spines.  Picking out a good candidate I cut the cap off and placed it on a piece of tin foil.  After a few drops of water on the cap to encourage the release of spores this was set in a space that wouldn’t be disturbed.  The next day an imprint of the underside of the mushroom cap was left on the tin foil.  These are spores that can be used to grow future Portobello crops.  These Portobello Mushrooms looked dry and appeared to have been handled a lot.  Would the spores from these mushrooms grow into mycelium?

Growing Portobello Mushrooms


Reishi Mushrooms

Reishi Mushroom Experiment – May, ’18

In early winter I was gifted a Reishi Mushroom growing kit.  It sprouted and grew a first batch of mushrooms and then dried up.  Researching on-line about growing Reishi Mushrooms I came across a unique idea that I thought I would attempt outside in the garden.  This was one of my the first experiments.

Growing Reishi Mushrooms


Shiitake Mushrooms

 Shiitake Mushroom experiment – June 26, ’18

After purchasing Shiitake Mushrooms from the grocer I observed the caps to observe any spores that may be in between the mushroom spines.  Picking out a good candidate I cut the cap off and placed it on a piece of tin foil.  After a few drops of water on the cap this was set in a space that wouldn’t be disturbed.  The next day an imprint of the underside of the mushroom cap was left on the tin foil.  These would be spores that can be used to grow future Shiitake crops.  I was surprised yet happy to find spores.  These mushrooms came from China and looked dry.  Before the picture of shiitake Mushrooms above was taken they sat in water for a few minutes while being washed.  They puffed up immediately and looked younger and healthier.  Would mycelium grow?

Growing Shiitake Mushrooms


Shimeji White Mushrooms – June 26, ’18

After purchasing tightly packaged Shimeji Mushrooms from the grocer I noticed that they had a square piece of mycelium and growing compound attached.  I cut the mushrooms away from this material and decided to try experimenting with it to see if it would regrow new mushrooms.  These mushrooms came from China however seemed fresh and wholesome.  I wondered if mycelium was packed into these black plastic containers at shipping and if they grew during transport.  Is this possible?

Growing Shimeji White Mushrooms


Recommended Reading:

A wealth of information that is well organized and well explained. It is truly a definitive book on the subject and could well be the only one you will need.  JS

Paul Stamets has produced a work that is an engaging read and is packed with useful information. Whether the reader seeks to grow fungi for food, for medicine or to promote a healthy environment this book provides the information required in substantial depth. I highly recommend Mycelium Running: How Mushrooms Can Help Save the World to anyone who has an interest in personal health or ecological health.  RN

Growing Reishi Mushrooms

by Renee Lindstrom, GCFP–Living in Natures Love Lifestyles @insideawareness.com

Pixabay Pictures

Reishi Mushroom

Another name for Reishi mushrooms is Chicken of the Woods.  I love this name!  As mentioned in the post titled Living Foods from the Grocers:  Mushrooms, I mentioned that I had a kit for growing these mushrooms.  It dried out too soon before harvesting the mushrooms.  This began the research on how to grow them naturally, so began the research and the following two experiments:

  1.  On June 3rd, ’18,  I plugged the butt ends still attached to substrate into holes cut into tree trunk blocks.
  1.  On June 3rd, ’18, I buried the block of mycelium that was left from the growing kit in the garden.

When the landscapers began chipping the trees the neighbour had them cut down I asked for some wood chips.  I was left with a nice pile in the drive way.  I had no idea how handy this would be.  I had read on-line that a mushroom grower planted some of his grow kits in his garden under the broccoli patch.  When it came time to do something with my Reishi grow kit substrate I decided to plant it next to the butterbur where it would get shade from the sun.    I dug a large hole and lined it with wood chips, place the kit in and then filled it in with soil and covered with wood chips.  Now it is a waiting game to observe if this will grow or not!

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Growing Shimeji White Mushrooms

by Renee Lindstrom, GCFP–Living in Natures Love Lifestyles @insideawareness.com

Renee Lindstrom

Shimji Mushrooms                                                                                             Photo by Renee Lindstrom

In the habit of looking at mushrooms in the different grocers I find myself in I came across these beautiful white mushrooms.  I couldn’t resist!  Taking them out of their package was interesting in itself.  At the base of the mushrooms on the bottom of the dark black plastic container was the growing medium for these fruiting mushrooms.  My first thought was that they came all the way from China and that there is a possibility that the growing medium was packed and shipped leaving the mushrooms to grow on their way.  It could be that by leaving them attached kept them fresh and interesting.  In comparison the Enoki mushrooms are usually in terrible shape from packaging and shipping.

I cut away the mycelium and added it to a substrate of coffee and cardboard.  The experiment has begun!

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Coffee and Cardboard substrate

You will need:

  • Cut up wet cardboard
    • soak in water overnight
  • Knife and scissors
    • sterilize with alcohol or peroxide
  • Container (recycled plastic or milk cartons)
    • sterilize with alcohol or peroxide
    • cut hole in bottom and larger ones in sides (potentially for mushrooms to grow through)
  • Freshly used coffee grounds
  1. Soak pieces of cardboard in water overnight
  2. Place layers of cardboard, coffee and mycelium into the container
  3. When container is full place in a darken space for a couple of weeks for the mycellium to grow in the container.  If in hot summer do not leave in heated area.  Ensure it is a cool space.  After two or three-week place in ambient light.

Mycelium:  vegetative part of a fungus consisting of a mass of branching thread like hyphae very much like the roots of plants.


Recommended reading:

A wealth of information that is well organized and well explained. It is truly a definitive book on the subject and could well be the only one you will need.  JS

Paul Stamets has produced a work that is an engaging read and is packed with useful information. Whether the reader seeks to grow fungi for food, for medicine or to promote a healthy environment this book provides the information required in substantial depth. I highly recommend Mycelium Running: How Mushrooms Can Help Save the World to anyone who has an interest in personal health or ecological health.  RN