Growing gourmet and medical mushrooms

Paul Stamets. Growing gourmet and medical mushrooms. - Ten Speed Press, 2000


1. Mushrooms, Civilization and History

2. The Role of Mushrooms in Nature

3.Selecting a Candidate for Cultivation

4. Natural Culture: Creating Mycological Landscapes

5. The Stametsian Model: Permaculture with a Mycological Twist

6. Materials fo rFormulating a Fruiting Substrate

7. Biological Efficiency: An Expression of Yield

8. Home-made vs. Commercial Spawn

9. The Mushroom Life Cycle

10. The Six Vectors of Contamination

11. Mind and Methods for Mushroom Culture

12. Culturing Mushroom Mycelium on Agar Media

13. The Stock Culture Library: A Genetic Bank of Mushroom Strains

14. Evaluating a Mushroom Strain

15. Generating Grain Spawn

16. Creating Sawdust Spawn

17. Growing Gourmet Mushrooms on Enriched Sawdust

18. Cultivating Gourmet Mushrooms on Agricultural Waste Products

19. Cropping Containers

20. Casing: A Topsoil Promoting Mushroom Formation

21. Growth Parameters for Gourmet and Medicinal Mushroom Species

Spawn Run: Colonizing the Substrate

Primordia Formation: The Initiation Strategy

Fruitbody (Mushroom) Development

The Gilled Mushrooms

The Polypore Mushrooms of the Genera Ganoderma, Grifola and Polyporus

The Lion’s Mane of the Genus Hericium

The Wood Ears of the Genus Auricularia

The Morels: Land-Fish Mushrooms of the Genus Morchella

The Morel Life Cycle

22. Maximizing the Substrate’s Potential through Species Sequencing

23. Harvesting, Storing, and Packaging the Crop for Market

24. Mushroom Recipes: Enjoying the Fruits of Your Labors

25. Cultivation problems & Their Solutions: A Troubleshoting guide


I. Description of Environment for a Mushroom Farm

II. Designing and Building A Spawn Laboratory

III. The Growing Room: An Environment for Mushroom Formation & Development

IV. Resource Directory

V. Analyses of Basic Materials Used in Substrate Preparation

VI. Data Conversion Tables






harvest mushrooms from horizontal beds,
eliminating the largest labor contingent in a
mushroom farm—the pickers.

Packaging and Storing the
Crop for Market
Once mushrooms have been harvested, they
must be quickly chilled. Most pickers at mush-

room farms place mushrooms directly into
open-grate plastic baskets which are frequently
ferried to the cold room. The larger farms utilize blast chillers, which precipitously drop the
temperature of the mushroom from room temperature to near freezing. A common mistake

many growers make is to place their fresh
mushroom directly into cardboard boxes after
picking. Cardboard boxes insulate the mushrooms after harvest, essentially preventing
them from being rapidly cooled. During or after cooling, mushrooms are sorted and
packaged. Once cooled, the mushrooms must
not be re-warmed until delivery. The ideal tem-

F. (1-2° C.). (See
perature for storage is
Lomax (1990) and Hardenburg (1986)).

Mushrooms are sorted according to markets
to which they are destined. The Japanese are by
far the connoisseurs of the world in terms of
quality standards for marketing. So strict are
their standards that many North American
growers have been unable to penetrate the Japa-

nese market. The Japanese also have the
advantage of having a large pool of specialty
growers who can coordinate their product lines
to best fill their complex market requirements.
Mushrooms are carefully graded according to

type, size and form. Currently, in North
America, the markets are relatively unsophisticated and the primary concern is for freshness.
In the United States, a loosely adhered-to grad-

ing system is followed by some growers,
buyers, and sellers. Number #1 Shiitakes are

usually 3-5 inches across, dark brown in color,
with incurved margins, usually adorned with
veil remnants. Number #2 are basically #1's
which have more or less fully expanded. Number #2's are often lighter in color and exceed
4-5 inches in diameter. Number #3's show some
damage, either to the gills or cap margin and are
often deformed. Number #3's vary in size from
tiny to excessive large mushrooms. I find it interesting that Americans, as a culture, have
historically favored large mushrooms. Currently, in markets in San Francisco, large
Shiitake are selling for several dollars per pound
more than small ones.
Once mushrooms are sorted to grade, they
are packaged for market. Restaurants generally
prefer 5-7 lb. boxes. (See Figures 379.) Packages for consumers typically weigh 3, 5 or 7
ounces, a trick employed by many marketers to
disguise the actual price per pound. (It's not
easy for the consumer to divide 16 ounces (1 lb.)
by 3, 5, or 7 to determine the actual price per
pound.) In the United States, packages of fresh
mushrooms should be small enough so that they
can be grasped by one hand, and ideally retail at
or below $2.00. Once the sale price to the consumer exceeds the $2.00 threshold, a precipitous
decline in sales is seen. If every 3 oz. package sold
for $2.00, the retail price would be $10.66 per lb.
Most retailers consider a 40% mark-up fair.
This gives the growers $6.40/lb. at the wholesale level.
Another tactic commonly used with the Button mushroom is to sell the mushrooms loose
in a tray, and have the consumers fill small pa-

per bags imprinted with information on

handling, cooking, etc... The consumer can be
more selective in picking the mushrooms most
desirable. However, every time the mushrooms
are rummaged through, they suffer in quality.
Although Button mushrooms are often sold

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