N and I brought home a mushroom growing "kit" from the fair in February. Here's what it looked like in the beginning:
The bag held a mixture of cotton seed hulls that were inoculated with oyster mushroom spores (and some other stuff). Here's a close up view:
It looks kind of gross, but it actually smelled pretty pleasant! All we had to do was puncture the bag several times with a fork, then place the bag in the dark (the back of our closet) and wait while the substrate filled the mixture. Three weeks later, it looked like this:
All the white stuff is mushroom growth (substrate). The points sticking out of the bag are called "pins." At this point, we cut open the plastic bag around a few of the largest pins and brought the bag out of the closet into indirect light. A few days after that, it looked like this:
They were starting to look like mushrooms! It was very exciting. This is what it looked like a couple days later (about a month after we brought home the bag):
They pretty much maxed out around the size above. I think we did a pretty bad job with the pins--we should have caught them earlier and let one of them grow--two at maximum. The fewer pins you allow to grow the bigger the mushrooms become. We had 3-4 clumps going at once so they turned out pretty small.
At the fair, everyone was saying that fresh mushrooms taste completely different than anything you buy at the grocery store, so I was really curious to see how they'd turn out. N did the cooking with what we happened to have in the fridge at the time:
Mixed with pasta and parmesan cheese! A little pasta water was the base for the "sauce."
I have to say, hands down, this was the best thing N has ever created and cooked. Everything was done perfectly. There were barely any ingredients, but it was amazing. And the mushrooms? AWESOME. They were crazy sweet. I never thought mushrooms could be that sweet! And they were cooked perfectly, along with the pasta. N says the secret to perfect pasta is salting the water the right amount. I'd easily pay $20 for that pasta I hoovered down that day.
Mushroom growing is fun. And easy. And tasty. I think I will do it again sometime...