How to tell when a mushroom is ripe
"What determines when to pick
a ripe mushroom? I've noticed you seem to have an eye for knowing
when they are just right or beyond good eating. So what are your
mushrooms and shiitakes (the ones we know best), the
fruiting bodies are tastiest when they're just shy of totally
mature. That means they've expanded out to full size, but the cap
is still curling under just a little at the edges.
A day or so after reaching
this point, mushrooms are overmature and not nearly as tasty.
Then, the caps are flat at the edges, and the gills underneath have
often started to be gnawed away by insects.
(I don't mind a few
insects in a good mushroom --- just tap the cap lightly against your
palm and the little black beetles will fall out. Any left behind
are bonus protein.)
You can pick mushrooms
too young and they're still quite tasty, but you get much less mass
since the caps haven't expanded yet. I do this often if a really
cold spell is coming, since I figure the mushrooms
will be past their prime by the time warm temperatures tempt them to
Noticing mushrooms at
peak ripeness has been the entirety of our cultivation effort this
year. There seem to be wild and semi-wild (we inoculated them,
then ignored them) mushroom stumps, logs, and trees all over the farm
now, which makes it easy to pluck mushrooms whenever they appear.
The ones that get away spread spores to inoculate nearby logs and
trees, and the cycle continues. If you live in a damp climate,
it's hard to beat this mushroom-growing method in terms of calorie per
Our chicken waterer keeps care of the backyard
flock nearly as simple as plucking wild oyster mushrooms.
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