The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Mushroom rafts = Dirty fungi

Mushroom raft

Dirty shiitakesThe good news is that our mushroom rafts started producing like crazy once we got a few rains and temperatures dropped to more autumnal levels.  I was surprised to discover mushrooms even on the logs that didn't fruit last year --- being close to the earth seems to rejuvenate mushroom logs with even a hint of life left in them.

The bad news is that the mushrooms we harvested were pretty filthy.  Mushrooms are one of the few foods that you really can't wash since they'll soak up the wash water and go soggy.  I wiped the shiitakes harvested from our rafts vigorously with a damp cloth, but there was still quite a bit of debris left on the caps.  Good thing we're not very picky eaters.

Our mushroom totems had a bit of the same problem since mushrooms tend to pop out in the dampest portion of the log, which is also the region closest to the ground, but careful Mushroom totemplucking seemed to minimize the dirt.  Now that weather is a bit cooler, the oyster mushroom totems have started fruiting all up and down their length, resulting in a much cleaner product.

Baby mushrooms

I'm still weighing the pros and cons of mushroom rafts and totems vs. the more intensive log-soaking methods we'd used previously.  I don't think I'll repeat our mushroom rafts, but the totems have a lot of selling points if you can put them in a damp, shady location.

Our chicken waterer takes the guesswork out of clean, clear water.

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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There is an episode of Alton Brown's Good Eats where he busts food myths, and one of them is the one about soaking mushrooms.

He weighs out three sets of mushrooms, keeps one as a control, rinses one quickly in the sink, and soaks the other in a bowl of water.

I don't remember his exact findings, but it turned out that the amount of water soaked up by the mushrooms was negligible.

Just thought you might like to know!

Comment by Leslie Tue Oct 18 08:37:34 2011

I think that the whole "you can't wash mushrooms" thing is an old wives tale. I know that Alton Brown did an episode of good eats where he measured the water absorbed by mushrooms, transcript is located here.

But either way, I don't like mushrooms. I can't get it through my brain that they are good. I really wish I could, though. I have several areas in the yard that would be good for mushroom logs, and as far as growing stuff, they are not a lot of work.

Comment by Fritz Tue Oct 18 08:48:39 2011
Clearly I need to watch more TV! Thanks especially for linking to the transcript so I could see the data. Looks like I can start washing those filthy shiitakes!
Comment by anna Tue Oct 18 09:36:21 2011

I am so envious! My shiitake are growing like mad, but I am afraid to eat them since mushrooms containing dangerous levels of Cesium 137 were found in our city (Takahagi, Ibaraki). They weren't shiitake, but rather tawny milkcaps.

I can't find any evidence that shiitake concentrate cesium like the milkcaps, but there have been a few cases of mushrooms over the legal limit in the news....

And soon it is nameko season! (that is my photo in the wikipedia article by the way :) ) But they grow in mushroom rafts in contact with the soil, so I think that we are better safe than sorry this year.

Comment by Eric in Japan Wed Oct 19 07:29:15 2011
I'm so sorry! I guess I should count my blessings that my shiitakes are coated in dirt...not cesium 137.... Nice nameko photo!
Comment by anna Wed Oct 19 07:45:23 2011

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