Sunday, April 25, 2010

'Shrooms now and later

One of my favorite foods is mushrooms...I'm not sure I've tried a mushroom I have not liked. Since I was a small child I recall going on annual mushroom hunts with parents and relatives. The past few years, I've either not had as much time to go looking, or the neighbors have already cleaned out the woods of the coveted morels. So, after doing some research, I decided to try growing mushrooms from some of the logs I had recently cut in our woods.

The basic idea is to use 4-8 inch diameter hardwood limbs that were felled in late winter or early spring. The procedure involves drilling 1 inch holes in a diamond pattern across the entire surface of the log, and then pushing mushroom spawn growing in sawdust into the holes. It's best to brush some melted wax over the inoculated sawdust sites to prevent them from drying out. Then, over the course of 6-12 months you manage the moisture level of the logs by keeping them shaded...and mushrooms will begin to appear. I am trying out shitake and oyster shell mushrooms on basswood and elm logs. Our youngest daughter Rhianna even helped inoculate one of the logs.

The fun really began when I was outside working with the logs and sawdust, when I heard our neighbor, Tyler, start exclaiming he was finding mushrooms with outbursts like "Holy Mother bleep" and "Oh My God". This was just below our house in our woods. Wes and I ran down the hill and joined him. Huge yellow sponge morels were everywhere. The three of us must have picked 10 pounds in less than 10 minutes. The timing was interesting, and gave me hope of not only having mushrooms now, but also later in the year. Then the rainstorm that was threatening all day finally let loose.

Last evening we dined on a dish of pasta with morels and asparagus sauteed in butter and garlic, with Parmesan cheese sprinkled on top, with Rhubarb crisp for desert. My parents are coming over today for a mess of traditional fried morels. Yum!

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