When I saw the Back to the Roots mushroom growing kits in a fall issue of Vegetarian Times, I knew this would be the perfect Xmas gift for my picky friend Greg. He hates almost everything, so he's really hard to buy for. But he does love oyster mushrooms. And he's kind of a plant guy. Vegan Cuts had a coupon code to get 20% off when you ordered two kits, so I had to get myself one too. Damn. ;-)
These kits come with a bag of mushroom spores mixed with coffee grounds. You soak the bag and cut a hole in it. Then you put the bag back into the box and mist it twice daily. I started my first batch almost three weeks ago, and for a week and half, it did absolutely nothing. I have the world's worst black thumb, so I was convinced that I was over-watering or giving the mushrooms too much sunlight. And then suddenly, last week, mushrooms just sprang up overnight.
They grew to a decent size, but I had no idea how large they should get. So I kept misting each morning and night, hoping they'd continue to grow. But I learned the hard way that mushrooms don't keep growing like regular plants. They quickly reach their peak, and then they start to harden.
Mine were hard as a rock a few days after they sprang up. I thought I'd wasted my precious shrooms. But from reading the FAQ on the Back to the Roots website, I learned that hardened mushrooms can be soaked in hot water to bring them back to life. So I did just that.
There's a lot of recipes on the Back to the Roots site, and I chose this simple preparation — Yummy Mushroom Pasta:
It's my homemade marinara sauce over whole wheat pasta tossed with balsamic vinegar and topped with sauteed onions and oyster mushrooms. Since I had such a small harvest (and since I grew them myself), these really felt like a delicacy.
I'm a little sad that I only had enough mushrooms for one serving, but thankfully, Back to the Roots guarantees at least two harvests per kit. So I'm hoping another batch will spring up soon!