Yesterday I mentioned that the mushroom I used in my vegetarian stuffed red peppers was the freshest I'd ever eaten, and that's because I grew it myself, and picked it an hour before dinnertime!
It started as a Christmas present from my parents. They joked that "Santa was out of stockings full of coal so he brought a box of dirt instead," haha. But this box of dirt was also filled with lots and lots of tiny spores which, if cared for properly, would grow into big tasty portabella mushrooms.
The kit, created by Pulpit Rock Mushrooms, could not possibly be easier to use- the spores are already embedded in the sterile media (dirt), and all you have to do is moisten the top soil casing with 3 cups of water and spread it evenly in the box. Then you close the plastic so the moisture doesn't escape, store the box in a cool dark place, and wait. We started ours right around New Years.
After just one week of soaking and laying down the casing material, you begin to see a white fur start to grow, which is called mycelium. After two weeks, little white buttons the size of pencil erasers start to poke out.
2 weeks: Caps begin to form.
I wish I'd gotten a picture during week 3 when one of the buttons started to grow bigger, but the growth happened more rapidly than I anticipated, and I missed the between-stages from that to THIS:
First prize at the county fair?
I was delighted to find our first big mushroom cap had grown up right as I was trying to figure out what to make for dinner last night. We ate half of it in the stuffed peppers and I'm saving the other half for tonight...
**UPDATE: A friend mentioned that they sell these kits at MOM's Organic grocery stores for much cheaper than you can purchase them online, and obviously minus the shipping cost. So if you're interested in growing your own, you might want to check a local specialty health food store before dropping the dollars online. Good to know. :)