Mushroom Gourmet

Frequently Asked Questions, background information and current Mushroom Gourmet safe practice Policy

.... if you have any other questions or interesting findings, please get in touch through the Contact page.

1) What is spawn?

Mushroom spawn is a bit like mushroom roots growing on wood, seeds or special plant based mixtures. It needs to be stored in the fridge on arrival.

2) What are the kits?

Kits contain a bag of growing materials for the mushroom, crop protection and either a spawn voucher or bag of spawn if from a website purchase. The instructions describe in words and pictures how to prepare the kit, how to save the culture and how to grow more of the mushroom using your own raw materials.

3) How long can kits produce?

Each mushroom is different, but you can expect them to come all at one time in a flush. After this initial crop, there can be a rest time of 7-28 days for Oyster and Field mushrooms, and it may be 1-3 months between flushes for Shiitake and Burgundy mushrooms. Most people get 2-3 flushes from their set up and more are possible.

4) Why is the beginner Oyster kit so good to start with?

This kit has been designed over a period of 20 years to fruit in a wide variety of conditions in a short amount of time. It doesn’t have any soil and unless the air is very dry doesn’t even need watering after it is prepared. The kit creates the opportunity for growers to understand the whole process and doesn't create a glut of product and problems for beginners

5) What can I do after my mushrooms stop growing?

When you have picked 2-3 flushes from the oyster kit, the growing material can sometimes grow more if it is soaked overnight, then drained and put back in the growing area. The button kit can be re-fired by watering well, placing in a supermarket bag, closing it securely and putting in the fridge overnight. Return the kit to normal conditions and water as usual for a week. If these ideas don’t work, kits are ready to be dug into the garden, where thay sometimes start again, or added to the compost or worm farm.

6) What is the difference between a kit and spawn?

Kits have most or all of the items supplied to grow the mushroom chosen. Spawn is just the starter culture for you to add to your own raw materials. Ready to go packs or mini farms are available if you want a quick project, kits provide insights into how food is grown and creates opportunities for keeping the culture going to really ramp up production. A living gift for a lifelong hobby!

7) When growing on logs, do they need special care?

Yes, the logs need to be watered frequently to maintain moisture level inside the log. In dry weather this may mean every day. Keeping in a moist and shady spot is important. Lack of moisture in the log is the main reason why logs take a log time to fruit or fail. Just as stacking firewood dries out the timber, so it does your mushroom logs. Light rain and mist is not enough to maintain log moisture level.

8) Are some edible mushrooms illegal to grow in NZ?

Yes, for your own peace of mind, make sure to buy mushroom growing products from New Zealand based companies that work within NZ law. Finding illegal mushrooms or being given them and trying to grow them is illegal. NZ has unique plants and fungi, it's good to respect their environments as belonging to them and enjoy the amazing tastes we already have. Other countries have a much wider range of permitted edible fungi, but often the flavours are little different. Contact MPI or Landcare if you have any doubts.

9) Are all mushrooms edible?

It is easy to assume that a mushroom that looks like another familiar one is edible, or if it is in the same family (genus) to assume it is edible. This is not a safe way to approach eating fungi. There are plenty of examples of members of a genus being edible and other members being poisonous or deadly. . Check out Agaricus, Stropharia, Russula, Pleurotus and Amanita for more info and their lookalikes. Sometimes mushrooms that were considered edible are discovered to be toxic- see Agaricus essetii. Some examples cause serious stomach upsets or allergies and others don't- some people are a lot more sensitive than others and will be violently sick or worse. We all need to be cautious for ourselves and family when eating fungi, especially novel or wild versions. Consult an expert and thoroughly research at least three books, don't rely on photos, old wives tales or heresay. If you can't find historical data on eating a particular mushroom, it is unlikely the long term health impacts are understood. Don't mix wild fungi in meals, and never presume that a fungal offering from a novice enthusiast is safe, even if they eat it in front of you! Some effects can take days or weeks to appear, others just minutes. Some symptoms go away only to return with dire consequences. The cummulative effects of exposure to mushrooms is complex and may vary from person to person. Many foreign countries with a long history of mushroom foraging have good reasons to employ registered mushroom identifiers for public safety. Even so, every year some unfortunate foragers think they know enough and pay a high price that educates the rest of us. Fresh fungi can grow close to compost, manure, peat or rotting bark and can carry a wide range of bacteria on the surface from the medium or wild life. Road-side foraging is unwise. Mushroom digestibility experiments are interesting and literature suggests that the nutrients in raw fungi can be challenging to digest or toxic in some species. Some people report interesting side effects and post digestive tract outcomes. Is it more sensible to enjoy edible fungi well cooked or to take a chance?

10)Are you concerned about mushroom spores getting into the wild

Yes, in regular mushroom growing, spore production is of concern to all growers who have a suite of strategies to minimise or eliminate spore burden. Mostly these work well which may be why we don't find button mushrooms growing for kilometres around big mushroom farms. None of the mushrooms we have grown in our current small 10 year old growing room are emerging from the many trees around the property. Other wild mushrooms however, do proliferate naturally alongside the growing shed. This is echoed by other experienced growers with more than three decades of observations, so far, there are no confirmed fruitings of escaped exotic fungi invading native trees. A plausible concern for sure, but it does point to the fact that spore germination in nature is tricky and with a very low success rate, otherwise the common childhood practice of kicking a puffball around would be disastrous! Spores from other land masses have, for many reasons, only a small opportunity to cross with local mushrooms- it would be a worthwhile experiment to check though. Information on 'olden day' techniques for propagating fungi makes interesting reading and shows how much work and intervention is needed to get a fungus to grow on a tree branch, and importantly, just how close the spores have to get to the timber. Weed fungi of certain types do arrive on the breeze, but not as a result of the mushroom growers of NZ. Another example of fungal spores on the move, relates to the endemic fungus Phytophthera agathidicida. Some suggest it can be spread by people innocently moving around in the bush off the beaten track during damp conditions and contributing to the spread of Kauri dieback disease. Due to the nature of spore dispersal of general Phytophthera organisms, it seems likely to be more complicated to me, but may well be a part of the picture. Pigs, slugs, snails, nematodes and native worms would be worth investigating as well as ground water flow. Orchardists have a very different approach to this deep soil problem. Many other fungal diseases become insignificant over time in accordance with natural rythms. It does reinforce the message that it pays to be a slow and cautious forager. Enjoying nature, with a reluctance to spread unwanted spores on shoes and clothing is a good start. Taking the minimum sample, leaving all timber in situ and staying on track is sensible. If folks are really concerned to conserve life in the wild then perhaps leaving fungal collecting to the specialists in the field such as the scientists at Manaaki Whenua Landcare Research is prudent, especially in areas with Kauri trees. If you want NZ endemic cultures there are web sites that provide them. Note that ownership of wild cultures and permission to collect should be checked as it may not be straight forward in New Zealand.

11)Why is plastic used in mushroom growing.

I think most of us would like less plastic in our world. We have tested many alternatives over the years for the variety of tasks involved and due to the challenges of mushroom growing conditions, none have so far been able to reliably do the same job. Plastic has protected all of us from disease, germs and poisoning throughout our lives. It could be as simple as gloves and masks, plasters on wounds and protecting our food from bacterial contamination or as complex as the petri dishes for health tests, plastic syringes, or the plastic wrap around utensils, tubes and blood in hospital. When there is a good alternative mushroom growers will no doubt convert from plastic growing bags, containers, liners, nets and plastic petri dishes.

Further background information for interest

Mushrooms and fungi have a tight relationship with plants and earth. Regenerative is how they work. By unzipping the plant molecules in their food, they create enhanced opportunities for soil life and therefore plants, to thrive. Many mushrooms can be grown outdoors with the right setup at the right time of year, but some are best grown indoors while you get to know them and their particular challenges.

More people growing local from local looks good for the planet and good for community. Like many foods, there is a plethora of interesting research discussing health benefits which adds depth and interest to the eating experience.

Fresh mushrooms contain a small amount of protein compared to other foods chosen particularly for protein. Eating animal products and mushrooms there are no protein issues, but the amino acid balance in fungi will likely need attention for vegetarians and vegans. If this is your choice, eating a wide variety of food groups and pairing mushrooms with other proteins such as beans, peas, DGLV, fermented and whole foods for great taste and texture seems good sense. Mushroom preparation and food combining is a delightful journey of enhancement.

Mushroom Gourmet supports local NZ suppliers for raw materials and seeks the best for our environment. Our wood eating fungi particularly enjoy selectively milled NZ trees and certified locally grown grains and seeds. Join us on the carbon capture journey, enjoy the taste, enjoy 100% NZ goodness!

Mushroom Gourmet policy is to sell mushroom varieties with a long history of consumption overseas, that are also accepted to be in NZ by government authorities. However, we do not promote species that science or common sense suggest could displace NZ fungi or NZ plants. We have a general policy of not selling other edible species, even if legal, that are too challenging to grow in NZ, easily confused with dangerous look-alikes or unlikely to be of sustained culinary interest.

We encourage sporesnaring because mushrooms can pop up after decades of no sightings, and be gone in a few weeks.

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"Happy Customers"

“ it's been fun to grow and eat the mushrooms so thank you very much- KB 2021 The EasyGrow Shiitake sawdust log Great kits and I have been using a bunch of them already. =) Hi guys, parcel arrived this morning. Thanks for the awesome service. Have a merry xmas. Cheers KF Oamaru-.... Just wanted to let you know that my mushroom kit is a great success. I have oyster mushrooms sprouting all over the bag. Really pleased. Cristine Paraparaumu-.... ....I have found the course information fantastic and really easy to follow. AP 2019 ..... thanks for the advice. With 3 nights in the fridge the mushrooms started to grow an the 5th day. The first flush was sufficient for 3 meals. Flavour: excellent. Will now try the transfer method for a new culture and get the second flush started. G+W Charteris Bay.... Hi Tim I have been meaning to say thanks for the mushroom kit. Quite a bit of work but fascinating to see them grow over the winter under our sink and ended up having a good feed. Warm wishes Jack H Lower Hutt .... Hi Tim, I just wanted to say Ive had a chance to play with that new culture and its growing happy and healthy and clean! Thank you so much again for all the effort you put in, its greatly appreciated. Cheers, CS Ellerslie .... hi another order,, the first order you sent is going excellent , so ive decided to try another sort.. .excellent easy to deal with.. ..im rapt ..at dealing with your products...excellent as always. NH Paeroa-.... The mycelium was very quick to colonise the bag, and the fruits were huge AS Auckland-... Hi Tim, I am thoroughly enjoying the small business course. I spent the weekend getting my shed cleaned up and ready..SL 2019

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© All photos originals from MG cultures. Copyright 2018 – Mushroom Gourmet.