Modern grow-your-own mushroom kits have been around for about a decade, ever since Back to the Roots started selling blocks of coffee grounds inoculated with mycelium, the white filaments that, when nurtured right, grow into mushrooms.
This California-based company now sells a number of grow-your-own products, and they are far from the only mushroom-growing kit on the market.
Since 2017, Sean Henry has been growing and sell mushrooms, including DIY kits, through his company, Hi-Fi Mycology, mostly at local farmers markets.
At the recent Austin Fermentation Festival, I picked up two kits, a blue oyster mushroom and a strain of oyster mushrooms that Henry found locally and was able to successfully cultivate.
With a spray bottle in hand, the spritzing began, twice a day (or a little more), and less than a week later, the local oyster mushroom had sprouted into an impressive mound of yellowish capped stems that I gently sliced off and sauteed with garlic for a number of different dishes, including pizza and wilted greens.
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The blue oyster mushrooms took a little longer to get started, and they grew into white (OK, blue-ish), hardy, ear-shaped lobes that I also fried with garlic to mix with pasta and serve inside tortillas.
I’ve tried a number of mushroom-growing kits over the years, and I loved that I could grow a locally cultivated strain in my own kitchen. I also remembered the hard way that if you miss an afternoon of spritzing, the mushrooms will dry out and it’s hard to kickstart their growth again. But if you can remember to keep them moist, it’s amazing to watch them grow on your counter.
Henry is currently selling the local oyster and shiitake kits at Lakeline and downtown farmers markets on Saturdays and the Mueller and Hope farmers markets on Sundays. He’s developing kits for lion’s mane and pioppino mushrooms that will likely roll out later this year.
In addition to the kits, Hi-Fi sells a variety of fresh and dried mushrooms to customers at the farmers markets and to local chefs. Some of these are powdered and ready to mix into hot liquid for a mushroom tea. Look for chestnut, black pearl and maitake mushrooms to be hitting the farmstand in coming week. You can follow Henry’s mushroom-growing experiments and learn about the latest varieties available for sale through his Instagram, @hifimyco.
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I talked about these kits in my most recent livestream on the Austin360 Facebook page: