Wild mushrooms are a favorite among mushroom connoisseurs the world over. They grow all over the place depending on their particular variety. Some grow on the forest floor, some on trees, and some throughout open pastures and fields. These mushrooms are fun to hunt, but with so many people taking up the hobby, there are less and less wild mushrooms to find! This is why growing your own wild mushrooms is so rewarding. Read up a little on the history and uses of wild mushrooms, and then read our step-by-step guide to growing them so that you can have access to fresh, wild mushrooms whenever you would like them.
All about Wild Mushrooms
Wild mushrooms grow all over the world, and just as you would suspect, they grow on their own. It’s easy to spot a mushroom growing in a forest or on a tree, then pluck it off and take a bite, but this can be very dangerous. In fact, there are many mushrooms out there that can cause severe reactions ranging from an upset stomach to hallucinations and even death. Because of this, only eat mushrooms in the wild if you have them approved by a mycologist (mushroom expert) or you are one yourself. There are many varieties of wild mushrooms that are poisonous that look just like the harmless ones.
Wild mushrooms come in a number of different types, from fancy truffles to chanterelles to morels. You may have only seen truffles and chanterelles on the menus of the finest restaurants. In fact, truffles are some of the rarest (and tastiest) mushrooms out there, and they sell for astronomical amounts per ounce. This is because they are not widely commercially grown, so they are much harder to come by. This is often the case with most wild mushrooms. They grow in the deep recesses of the forest and are not so easy to grow in a commercial environment, though new methods are making commercial growing of some wild mushrooms a bit easier.
Taste and Uses
Wild mushrooms have a delectable taste if you are a mushroom lover. They are very earthy, and sometimes have a bit of a garlic or spicy bite to them. They are very meaty and will soften up when they are cooked.
Wild mushrooms are used in many different types of recipes. Truffles and chanterelles are often incorporated into recipes such as risottos and rice dishes. They have such a strong flavor that they often are the star of the dish.
Other wild mushrooms that grow in Asian countries, such as shiitakes, taste beautifully in Asian recipes. This is because they have an even stronger garlic taste than other mushrooms, so they work well with popular Asian flavors. Other wild mushrooms that grow in North America have nuttier tastes and work well in dishes like hearty beef stew or rich vegetable soup.
Growing Wild Mushrooms
You do not have to go out into the forest to have access to wild mushrooms and you also do not have to shell out a lot of cash for them at the grocery store. You can effectively grow wild mushrooms at home, with some care and knowledge. You need to cultivate them in a cool, dark place, such as in a basement or in your garden under the shade of a tree. Some people even cultivate theirs under a porch or deck.
In order to grow your wild mushrooms, you need to purchase a wild mushroom spore or spawn kit. These can be bought at gardening stores or online from a specialty garden retailer. Choose the particular wild mushroom that you like and go from there.
Things You Will Need to Grow Wild Mushrooms:
- Wild mushroom spawn or spore kit
- Pan or growing tray, or area in yard where you want to plant them
- Recommended mushroom growing medium (this depends on the type of wild mushroom you are growing) usually this will be compost, hardwood shavings, or straw. They kit will tell you exactly which one to use
- Spray bottle
- Potting soil (if planting in pan or growing tray)
- Step 1
Purchase your wild mushroom spawn or spores and the recommended growing medium listed on the directions. Read through all of the directions before beginning.
- Step 2
Layer the growing medium in the tray or pan or on top of dirt in your garden. This should be about 3 inches deep. Place the plan or planter in a cool dark place (basement or cabinet) or somewhere cool and dark outside.
- Step 3
Place the spawn on top of the growing medium and follow any additional instructions included with the kit. Various wild mushrooms require different temperatures, although they usually need to be between 65 and 75 degrees F.
- Step 4
Once you notice that the mushrooms have germinated, you will want to reduce the temperature of your mushrooms. You can do this inside by using a heating pad and turning the temperature down to 60 degrees F.
- Step 5
Sprinkle soil over the mushrooms and then place a damp over them so that they remain most. Make sure to spray multiple times per day in order to keep the soil extra moist and humid.
- Step 6
Usually within three weeks, you should notice pinhead mushrooms growing up from the soil. Once you notice this, keep an eye on your mushrooms. When they reach full maturity (the cap has separated from the stem), you can pick them and they are ready to enjoy!