A Unique Harvest (and a recipe!)
"I started growing mushrooms." After hearing my statement, most people utter a chuckling an incredulous "What?" You see, I love to eat mushrooms but am afraid of poisoning myself by picking a toxic mushroom while foraging in the woods. The solution? Grow my own!
This past spring I attended a workshop near Peshtigo, Wisconsin and learned the ins and outs of growing mushrooms at home. I proudly brought back two different packages of mushroom spawn one being that of Summer Blue Oyster mushrooms.
For growing our oyster mushrooms I chose to use the “totem method.” First, we cut down a live poplar tree with a trunk diameter of about twelve inches. Certain mushrooms with only grow on specific types of wood and oysters happen to like poplars. We were lucky enough to have access to a stand of poplar trees. (Thanks mom and dad!) The trunk was cut into 2-3 foot long sections. Those sections were then cut twice more leaving us with a 3-piece totem.
Next, we placed a large garbage bag on the ground and spread a small circle of spawn in the bottom of the bag. We placed one section of a totem on top of the spawn in the bag. Then we sprinkled spawn on top of that log, added the second section of the totem, placed more spawn, then topped it off with the last piece of wood.
The bag was tied up tight and left to sit for a few months. During that time the fresh wood created a moist environment inside the bag and encouraged the fungus to grow. When we opened up the bags a few months later, the wood was completely covered in the white mushroom fungus.
We then removed the totems from the bag and placed them in a location where they could stay and grow. Mushrooms prefer cool and shady conditions but they also need to receive rain. On our farm we have a silo without a top on it so I thought that would be the perfect place for our totems. I was right!
In early October I harvested our first batch of Summer Blue oysters. Since then we’ve had oyster mushrooms quesadillas, burritos, pizza, and pasta. I also dried some to use later in winter soups. The mushrooms will continue to grow on our totems as long as the wood is still providing food for the fungus. Now that people have seen our mushrooms, their mocking “What?” has turned into a “Wow!”
Mushroom & Spinach Dairy-Free Lasagna
Inspired by Jenna's Dairy-Free Stuffed Shells
1 Tbsp. Canola oil
16 oz. Button mushrooms, sliced
9 lasagna noodles
14 oz. Package firm tofu
1 Tbsp. Olive oil
1 1/2 tsp. Salt
1/2 tsp. Pepper
1 tsp. Basil
1 tsp. Oregano
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp. Nutritional yeast
10 oz. Frozen spinach, thawed and drained
24 oz. Jar marinara sauce
Sauté mushrooms with canola oil in a large pan until done, about 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Meanwhile, cook noodles according to package directions. Drain and rinse under cold water.
Drain tofu and pat dry. Add to large bowl with olive oil, salt, pepper, basil, oregano, garlic and nutritional yeast. Combine with pastry blender or potato masher. Stir in spinach and mushrooms.
Preheat oven to 350. Add 1/3 cup marinara to bottom of 9x13 dish. Lay down 3 noodles then 1/2 of tofu mix. Then pour on 3/4 cup marinara. Repeat. Add last 3 noodles and sauce. Cover with foil and bake 30 minutes. Enjoy with a small side salad and a glass of red wine.
This article was written for the upcoming issue of the Fox Valley Sierra Group's newsletter.