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Develop Your Personal Oyster Mushrooms For Taste & Revenue

Seventeenth-century French mushroom farmers tended their crops in caves close to Paris. Within the oxygen-rich basement of Nick Fox’s downtown duplex in Durham, North Carolina, he and Rob Jones used to develop oyster mushrooms for the native markets and eating places.

It’s not as romantic as a cave (or Paris). Nevertheless it stored their prices low sufficient that they may begin their Woodfruit Farm with minimal debt. And Fox couldn’t complain about his commute.

Whereas they’ve each moved on to different ventures, their ideas for beginning a small-scale mushroom farm are nonetheless sound. 

To create the rising media for these basement mushrooms, they mixed native natural wheat straw and cottonseed hulls. They then pasteurized this “substrate” in a horse trough by utilizing a steam generator. They combined mycelium with the substrate by hand and loaded the combo into ventilated plastic luggage, then harvested by hand and delivered to eating places and native farmers markets.

To enhance productiveness, Fox designed a system to filter outdoors air and add oxygen to profit the mushrooms within the basement. He additionally used quiet, environment friendly followers (from the marijuana-
rising trade) and lights that may deal with the excessive humidity (from the aquarium trade).

These followers and lights hung from the copper pipes that provided water to his residence upstairs. 

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Along with edible mushrooms, Jones and Fox additionally grew medicinal mushrooms reminiscent of reishi, chaga and turkey tail. They offered to native eating places in quite a lot of cuisines: superb French, Spanish tapas, Italian pizzaria. Their pursuits have drawn them into different ventures since then. However Jones and Fox’s mission impressed me to discover rising oyster mushrooms at my residence. 

As Simple as Making Espresso

I first discovered the benefit of rising oysters in our kitchen by filling a 5-gallon bucket with our spent espresso grounds. I sprinkled a little bit of mushroom spawn—you can begin your individual or purchase the spawn on-line—within the bucket as I added espresso grounds. This manner, I created a miniature backyard of rising mushrooms.

I merely needed to depart the bucket lid ajar for air flow and to let somewhat gentle in. It took a couple of month to reap a pair kilos of mushrooms with out leaving the home or doing something that resembled work. 

Making espresso primarily pasteurizes the grounds with moist warmth: an essential first step in mushroom cultivation. When natural matter is damp, it turns into a beautiful meals supply for any fungi spores floating within the air.

Nonetheless, by first utilizing enough warmth to pasteurize your mushroom’s meals supply, you give your chosen mushroom spawn a head begin within the race to colonize your pristine espresso grounds. However as any farmer or gardener is aware of, no system is ideal. 

Together with my first oyster mushrooms, one other unknown and inedible mushroom received a foothold. A “weed” mushroom if you’ll.

Weed mushrooms can overpower most edible mushrooms. However oysters develop quick sufficient to get a harvest no matter weeds. This makes them the very best species for learners to start out with and at the very least have some success.


However Will It Pay?

Summer season is a troublesome time to start out a brand new crop. However what if a farmer might develop a extremely worthwhile crop within the farmhouse basement (or a shed) in summer season (and yr spherical) at a cushty temperature of 75 levels?

In an indoor rising space that measures whilst small as 10-by-10 toes, a proficient farmer can harvest about 400 kilos each different month. That may produce round 2,400 kilos of oyster mushrooms every year. Promoting at $6 a pound wholesale, which means even that tiny 100 sq. foot rising space can gross about $15,000 a yr.

Somewhat than plowing a discipline or foraging within the woods, oyster mushrooms, which usually develop on timber, will develop from plastic luggage stuffed with straw. When the mycelium has fully taken over the straw, the edible a part of the mushroom will fruit and erupt from slits within the luggage.

With the baggage hanging from joists or rafters overhead, the mushrooms are straightforward to reap from a standing place. And any mushrooms that may’t be offered recent to eating places or for retail costs at a farmers market can simply be dried in a dehydrator, saved in jars and offered one other time. 

Learn extra: Try this video about foraging, drying and storing oyster mushrooms.

Nuts & Bolts

Most likely probably the most generally used substrate is wheat straw. And you’ll simply purchase bales of straw. Make sure you shred the straw into shorter bits.

A string trimmer can do the job in case you drop some straw into a giant rubbish can and insert the trimmer like a kitchen mixer whipping up some batter.

The Mushroom Handbook

However it doesn’t matter what substrate you employ, you’ll discover all of the hands-on recommendation—and images—you’ll want in Tradd Cotter’s e book Natural Mushroom Farming and Mycoremediation. The e book covers cultivation methods for two-dozen edible mushrooms together with
chicken-of-the-woods, shiitake, maitake, beefsteak, lion’s mane in addition to oyster and plenty of others.

His web site, which he runs together with his spouse Olga, can provide all of the spawn you’ll have to get began in mushroom cultivation. Within the e book Cotter writes that “Oyster mushrooms are among the fastest-fruiting fungi on the planet, making them good for instructional initiatives and catastrophe reduction.”

Along with rising on straw, Cotter shares methods for rising varied mushrooms on wooden chips, logs, stumps, sawdust and sure, even recent espresso grounds and previous blue denims. One chapter is devoted to appropriate fast-acting classroom initiatives for schoolchildren.

Frank Hyman

Keys for Success

The keys issues to remember when rising oysters are:

  1. Begin with a pasteurized substrate to offer your spawn a head begin.
  2. Inoculate the substrate with good, recent mushroom spawn instantly after the substrate has cooled to maintain weed fungi out.
  3. Preserve a rising setting of recent air, applicable humidity, optimum temperature and oblique gentle (as discovered within the woods).
  4. Use an opaque container. Oyster mushrooms will begin to fruit wherever they’re uncovered to gentle. In a clear container reminiscent of a transparent plastic bag, tiny mushrooms will begin to fruit over each sq. inch of the bag. They are going to be too diffuse and too tiny to be price harvesting. In an opaque container, mushrooms will fruit solely by way of openings that enable gentle to enter.
  5. Use a container with the optimum quantity of openings so that you simply get the optimum quantity and measurement of mushrooms sprouting. For instance, if rising in a sausage-shaped plastic bag sufficiently big to supply 10 kilos of mushrooms, chopping just one gap would doubtless yield one 10-pound mushroom. That may be too giant to promote. However 50 holes would yield too many tiny mushrooms and will dry out the substrate as effectively. However eight holes would doubtless yield an equal variety of clumps, every somewhat over a pound in weight: the proper measurement for market.
  6. Harvest at maturity, because the curled-down edges of the caps begin to flatten out.

Learn extra: Oyster mushrooms are tasty & straightforward to search out within the wild.

Pasteurization Strategies

Pasteurizing your substrate could be finished with a number of low-tech strategies. Cotter describes utilizing photo voltaic warmth or perhaps a resolution of wooden ashes that may pasteurize at room temperature. His most popular technique is to pasteurize a batch of wheat straw by dunking it into 55-gallon, food-grade steel drums with tight-fitting lids.

He stands his drums on bricks or cinder blocks to make room for a propane burner. Then he heats the drums to about 170 levels F for 1 to 2 hours, which is sufficient to pasteurize the straw. 

The moist straw is heavy, so he makes use of an electrical hoist and a easy aluminum cage to boost and decrease every batch of straw out and in of the drum. A winch on a automobile or a set of pulleys (and a set of muscle groups) would work instead of an electrical hoist. After it’s been heated lengthy sufficient, the straw is dumped out onto a chrome steel desk that’s been wiped down with rubbing alcohol beforehand to eradicate weed fungi.

As soon as the substrate has cooled sufficient to deal with, Cotter places it in his containers, which could be lengthy plastic luggage, poly tubing, PVC pipes and even repurposed nursery pots which have been soaked in a 1:10 resolution of bleach: water to eradicate weed fungi.

When two-thirds stuffed with substrate, the nursery pots are straightforward to stack. And the drainage holes make good escape hatches for the mature stalks of oyster mushrooms.

Frank Hyman

Finest Practices

Some oyster species could be grown open air on recent logs and stumps with help from overhead sprinklers throughout dry spells. However greatest outcomes are discovered rising them in enclosed constructions that enable the farmer to handle humidity and temperature. That is very true for oyster mushrooms reminiscent of pink, golden and Florida oysters from tropical areas.

However even temperate varieties reminiscent of king, tree, blue and phoenix oysters will produce extra beneath managed circumstances. Some farmers even modify the oxygen and carbon dioxide ranges indoors to a small diploma to advertise progress and fruiting.

The time from inoculation of the substrate with spawn to reap could also be 3 to five weeks. Subsequent flushes ought to arrive a number of weeks aside.

Harvest singles or clusters of oyster mushrooms by hand. Twist them to take away the bottom of the stalk. Trim the tip to maintain your harvest clear. (The trimmed ends may also be used to start out one other batch of spawn.)

Prepare the mushrooms dealing with the identical manner in containers to save lots of area, cut back harm and to make them look extra interesting. They are often saved in a fridge for 1 to 2 weeks. However given their taste and the calls for of the market, I guess they received’t stick round that lengthy. 

Extra Info

Foraging for Oysters

Oysters mushrooms (Pleurotus ostreatus; Latin for: ear on its aspect, oyster) make an ideal reward for the novice forager: They’re straightforward to identify and establish, they usually style nice, too. You might be able to discover cultivated oyster mushrooms at your farmers market and get an excellent have a look at them earlier than foraging for wild ones.

When a good friend wished me to show him to forage, we walked throughout the street from his property into some woods. Lower than 50 toes in, oysters greeted us on a giant fallen beech tree. We each grabbed double handfuls to convey residence.

We spent extra time making ready and consuming them than we spent foraging. It’s possible you’ll not at all times discover oysters so shortly, however they’re quite common within the woods. 

Most edible mushrooms develop on the bottom, the place they might be small, few in quantity, obscured by leaves and arduous to search out. An oyster mushroom, then again, might solely be a couple of inches throughout. However they typically develop in clumps the dimensions of a soccer ball.

And they’re up off the bottom, making them among the many best mushrooms to search out, particularly in winter when tree leaves now not block your view. 


Crepidotus species look considerably related however are smaller, extra typically people, don’t have any stem and a brown spore print. 

What, The place & When
  • decomposers (or as I name them “eaters of the lifeless”) on stay or lifeless deciduous timber, standing or fallen
  • clustered, overlapping rows
  • all through North America
  • Oysters develop year-round, even in snowy winters. In hotter climate, they develop quick, get buggy and go their “harvest-by date” fairly shortly. They’re greatest harvested in cooler climate. 

ID Guidelines (all have to be right)

  • They mission out from a tree trunk or stump.
  • Caps the dimensions of your palm as much as full hand unfold, typically bigger.
  • Every particular person mushroom overlaps two mushrooms beneath it like shingles on a roof.
  • The gills proceed alongside the stem.
  • Gills are white.
  • The stubby stem doesn’t rise to fulfill the middle of the cap as with most gilled mushrooms. It comes off from the aspect.
  • Their clean cap colour ranges from vivid white to grey to brown, making them standout from the darker bark of the deciduous timber they develop on.
  • Spore print white to pale lilac. 

Sadly, oyster mushrooms get their identify from their look not their style or texture. The dense, white flesh has an easy mushroom taste, though some individuals detect a light licorice scent on the recent ones. 

My spouse isn’t keen on the feel of mushrooms typically, however I discovered a cooking technique that had her asking for seconds of oyster mushrooms. I sautéed them in bacon fats on medium low warmth for about 25 minutes, till the deep gills received crispy like fried rooster batter and the meaty caps had been imbued with porky goodness.

Strive that and also you received’t care in any respect that they don’t style like oysters. 

This text initially appeared within the Could/June 2022 difficulty of Passion Farms journal.



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