If you’re someone who loves making food from scratch and growing your own vegetables and herbs, why not grow your own mushrooms for holiday meals this year? There’s nothing more rewarding than enjoying the fruits of your labor with your loved ones.
The flavor and texture of fresh mushrooms make them great for a variety of holiday side dishes, or main meals if you’re serving vegetarians, vegans, or diehard mushroom lovers.
Just like with other types of gardening, it will take a little bit of planning ahead to pull it off. Whether you’re starting to plan for Thanksgiving, Christmas dinner, or any number of holiday-season parties, there’s still plenty of time to grow your own.
*Psst! If you’re interested in growing your own mushrooms, check out our mushroom kits. They’re easy to grow and each kit includes detailed instructions and recipe inspiration*
How long will it take mushrooms to grow to harvestable size?
From order to feast, you should give yourself about five weeks to prepare for this. Between processing, preparing, and shipping, it’ll take about one week to receive your kit after placing an order.
Once you have your mushroom kit setup, mushrooms will start growing in 7-14 days. Then, you can start harvesting in about a week or two depending on your environment. All in all, make sure to order a kit by October 21st to guarantee your own fresh mushrooms before the Thanksgiving holiday.
Or, if you’re planning on growing mushrooms for Christmas, you’ll want to order a mushroom grow kit by November 20th.
The benefits of growing mushrooms
There are lots of benefits to growing your own mushrooms. Here’s some of the most noteworthy ones:
- Nutrition. According to Harvard Medical School, fresh produce can lose half of its vitamins and phytonutrients during the storage period. Fresher produce is more nutritious than food that’s had to travel far to get from the farm to the grocery store to your dinner table – and there’s nothing fresher than mushrooms grown in your own home.
- Fun! Mushrooms are magical creatures. Did you know they’re more closely related to humans than to plants? They grow surprisingly fast and the process is quite fascinating to watch. Plus, you get the pleasure of taking care of them. We like to think of them as the coolest houseplant you could ever grow.
- Sense of achievement. If you’ve ever had the joy of growing your own veggies and picking them at peak ripeness just before you start cooking, you already understand the feeling of pride that comes with the process. Knowing that you put in the work to get this amazingly fresh and delicious food on the table is über satisfying.
- Connection to nature. Having a connection to nature makes us feel better, and there’s a lot of science to back it up. Growing mushrooms indoors is a way to maintain that connection even as the weather turns and we’re spending less time outside.
How to grow your own mushrooms at home
Growing mushrooms at home might be easier than you think. All you need is a spray bottle, a plastic bag, and some forks or chopsticks. A cooling rack and baking sheet will also help, but isn’t completely necessary.
Here’s a few things to keep in mind when getting ready to grow mushrooms:
- Don’t use chlorinated water. Chlorine is a fungicide and will kill the mycelium in your kit. Use store-bought spring water or let your water sit out for twelve hours to dechlorinate it.
- Set your kit up somewhere with low light levels. Avoid direct sunlight.
- Don’t place the mushroom block near a heat source or drafty location. This can dry the block out and decrease growth.
- Mist your kit 2-4 times each day with non-chlorinated water.
Mushrooms have two basic requirements to flourish – warmth and humidity. Their ideal temperature is between 55-75 degrees fahrenheit, which happens to be a temperature most of us feel comfortable at in our own homes anyway.
When your mushroom kit arrives, you’ll need to set up a humidity tent for it. This can be achieved by placing a plastic grocery bag over it, held in place with forks or chopsticks.
Simply insert 3-4 forks into the mushroom block, evenly spaced. Slice a few holes into the bag so it can breathe, then drape the bag loosely over the block, resting on the forks for support. The humidity tent should be slightly off of the surface of the kit.
Place the tented kit on a cooling rack set over a plate or baking sheet to absorb excess moisture and keep the block from getting soggy. A few times a day, remove the humidity tent and mist your block thoroughly.
Harvesting your homegrown mushrooms
After 7-14 days, you’ll notice little buds starting to appear on your mushroom kit. Over the next week or so, these little bumps – known as mushroom primordia – will develop into full-sized mushrooms!
Knowing when they’re ready to harvest will depend slightly on which type of mushroom you’re growing. Shiitakes are ready when their caps and stems have gotten large and the edges of their caps have begun to flatten out. Their gills should be visible underneath the cap.
For Lion’s Mane mushrooms, look for the spines to become distinct and elongated. Oyster mushrooms are ready when the clusters become large and the edges begin to flatten out.
To harvest, you can either snap the mushrooms off the block with your fingers or use a sharp knife.
Recipes, techniques, and ideas for your dinner menu
Once you have a supply of freshly grown and harvested mushrooms, it’s time to get cooking!
There are a few general rules to follow when it comes to cooking with mushrooms. First off, don’t crowd them in your saute pan. Allowing them adequate space will ensure the best texture.
Second, take their freshness and moisture content into account. For moist and fresh mushrooms, start them with a dry saute. Then, add your fat of choice after they’ve released their water. If your mushrooms have been stored for a little while or are on the drier side, add a little bit of cooking liquid to your skillet in the beginning.
Each mushroom has slightly different needs. Be sure to check out our resource for flavor profiles and general cooking tips for every type of mushroom we sell.
Instead of discarding your mushroom stems, use them for stock! Here’s how to make your own mushroom stock:
Save your stems in a bag in the freezer along with any veggie scraps (onions peels, carrot shavings, and broccoli stems are great!). Once you have a decent amount of stems and other scraps saved up, add them to a pot and cover with a few inches of water. Simmer, partially covered, for about an hour. Drain and discard scraps. Store your mushroom stock in clean glass jars in the refrigerator for up to 10 days or the freezer for up to 6 months.
We hope that growing your own mushrooms for holiday feasts becomes a new tradition for you. Enjoy the process and bon appétit!
Be sure to check out our other mushroom recipes. Do you have any favorite mushroom recipes for special meals? We’d love to know about them!