Although I will eat mushrooms if they are served to me, I cannot profess that they are my favorites. BUT, I figured if I grew my own, then maybe I would change my mind. I scoured the Internet for a kit to grow and found a site that sold many different kinds. I decided to try Shiitakes.
When the kit arrived (it cost about $20), it was broken in a few places – looked like it and the transportation company had had a bit of a conflict during the journey. Being the farm girl that I am, I grabbed some baling twine and tied 'er back together. Good as new….well, almost!
Your first order of business is a 2-4 hour soak in water to hydrate it. Then basically, just sit back and watch it start to grow! In just a few short days, the mushrooms begin to appear. We misted the mushroom 'ball' each day to keep it moist, and kept a plastic tent over the top. Each day was exciting to pull the cover off and see how much each mushroom had grown. Wow – then came the thought, “what am I going to do with all of these guys?”
Back to the Internet for recipes. We tried every sort of recipe with mushrooms we could think of. In my studies, I found that shiitake mushroom stems are tough to eat, but can be cooked down into a broth for their flavor. I came across a recipe that called for the mushroom stems (and I had lots of them!), some carrots, onions, and celery in a big kettle of water. After simmering for the required time, you strain the veggies out and then finish the broth with just a small amount of soy sauce. The soy sauce added the most wonderful finishing touch to the broth – a bit of brown color and an oh so good flavor. I froze the broth in one-cup containers and have used them whenever a recipe calls for broth or stock.
My kitchen has a great old commercial stove in it — six burners, a griddle, two ovens and a broiler. The pilot light in the oven keeps the temperature between 100 – 150 degrees – perfect for dehydrating my extra mushrooms. I sliced the mushrooms, put them on an ungreased cookie sheet, and popped them in there. After a few hours and a couple of flips, I had perfectly dehydrated mushrooms!
After the first “push” of mushrooms have finished growing, you simply just dry the mushroom ball out, then rehydrate it in another pail of water and watch it grow all over again.