Growing Oyster Mushrooms Indoors

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Master Chef
Dec 25, 2006
Long Island, New York
I just received my oyster mushroom spawn in the mail and went through the initial process this morning.

The kit I got was the "TP" kit ( Toilet paper).

I did it last year and it worked out so well, im doing it again this year.

Here's the basic process

- Saturate toilet paper with boiling water
- I used kitchen tongs to submerge
- I had 2 large pots going at once, cause the TP is so absorbent, It allowed me.
to have a constant pot of hot water as the other was coming up to temp.
- Its amazing how absorbent it is. I get about 4 rolls per pots before I have to.
refill with water again.
- Some of the outer paper will separate, so I fish it out.
- Let saturated TP come to room temp
- I used a drying rack
- Place TP in the mushroom bags ( They have a breathable filter)
- Its important not to introduce any other organism to the process, so I used
medical cloves when handling the bags and spawn.
- Fill the center hole of the TP with the Spawn
- Close the bag with a rubber band ( make sure above the filter
- The kit came with 3 varieties, so I labelled them
- Keep at room temp in a dark place for 2 weeks
***This is where I am today***

- In 2 week's the bags go into the fridge for 48 hours to ' shock' the spawn
Into producing
- The bags will then be removed, placed in indirect sun at room temp and over the course of a few weeks will produce clusters of oyster mushrooms.
- The will have to be misted daily with a mist bottle
- Each bag could potentially have a few batches

***I dont have to do all the bags at once ( 15 bags). What I have done in the past, is just do 2 bags at a time so I can spread out the production through the winter. The bags can last in the fridge for about 6 months***

Here are a few pics of what I did so far. Ill continue to document the process as time goes on and there are noticeable changes.


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Had some left over oyster mushroom spawn, so I mixed it with some hay and put it into a bucket that I converted to grow mushrooms.

Bucket Prep:
- 1/4 - 1/2inch holes drilled throughout the bucket ( even on bottom)
- Hay sat in boiling water to ensure that the fungus Im introducing is dominant
- Drained so damp to touch and allowed to cool to room temp
- Spawn mixed in and placed in bucket ( Filled almost to the top)
- Bucket covered, then put in a large plastic back left slightly open and out in a dark room to sit for a few weeks
- Should show signs of mushrooms in a few weeks. At that point ill have cover tt with a clear bag that has some vent holes, and leave it in a room with indirect light.

The pic with the mushrooms is from the last time I did this.


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We were hiking in the ice age trail a couple years ago, and we found oyster mushrooms. We didn't know if they were oyster or poison but our friends told us you can know by the smell they were oyster. They had an anise smell.
Oyster mushrooms have a very unique odor that is really best described as "oyster mushroom", but until you know it that won't make any sense! Often people report them smelling slightly fishy or sea-foody, it's also often compared to anise
So once we knew for sure we could harvest them, so we did. Then we let it continue to dry and ripen.

I tried this method. Because to me it was the easiest and most familiar way.
Fill canning jars with water and rye seeds, pressure can to completely pasteurize the rye. Then spread the oyster mushroom (or a small portion of it) in the top of the rye, close the jar and let sit at room temperature in a dark closet (pantry) for weeks. This created white mycelium (spelling!) that look like roots. Then once you have the thing I can't spell, you put it in some soil/straw that is moist, in a plastic bag with holes in it and leave it in a cooler environment (the basement 55 deg F year round).

No mushrooms grew but at least I learned a lot.

I really enjoy reading your thread on mushrooms, especially oyster mushrooms.
Maybe I'll try again at some point.
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And this looks very familiar to me, as the round cheese bucket I used when making cheese, with holes in the sides that we drilled into it.
I saw/rad something that you can grow them in coffee grinds. I tried it, but didnt quite work out. Actually, if failed miserably :LOL: . it must have gotten contaminated during the process, and basically mold took over.

From a financial point of view, ill probably break even at best, but im doing it for the fun , experience, and kinda gives me something to grow in the off season months.

If I were able to produce my own spore, that would then make it more cost effective ( or affective, I will never , ever know which one to use, no matter how many times it is explained to me).

The two methods I posted above ( toilet paper and the hay method) are pretty fool proof. I visited a mushroom farm years ago in PA and obviously the pros have a much more professional, scientific process. I even get a mushroom magazine ( or at least used to) and just looking at tall the equipment you need to do it right blew my mind. Definitely didnt want to take it to that level, but was cool to see.

Id also love togo mushroom picking with someone who really know what they are doing ( and that I trust).

I once went to a festival and a local Mycological Club ( mushroom club) were there to promote their club. I spoke with them and wanted to go on them with one of their walks. But even they didn't seem %100 sure, so now I just grow with stuff that I know %100 sure what it is.
Larry, I know what you mean, about knowing if it is poisonous or safe. I have a similar issue with effective or affective, but the first means something closer to efficiency and the second has something to do with feelings. I just can't decide on it even with that. There's a mushroom club in Wisconsin on Facebook, but it doesn't provide a lot of online education, it provides a way for members to join outings with people with experience.

I didn't do anything to produce spore but let it ripen and dry, then sprinkle it into the rye that was pasteurized. I was thrilled just to get that far.
One kit gives ways to spread the spores in hay in the garden and grow it outside. I did that once, and it did work, but insects get under and in the gills of the mushrooms. I found growing them inside in a controlled environment better to control pests.

I once tried making a Morel Musrhoom garden outside, but didnt work out ( didn't even get 1 ).

By far, the oyster mushrooms are my most successful, outdoor shiitake log second ( on real oak logs, no the pre inoculated logs you can buy, I dont have much luck with them), White button mushrooms I did really well the first time, but ever since that , I get only one initial flush of shrooms, and then it dies or molds up. I think I once grew lions mane too with some success, but I didnt like the way it tasted.
I heard that it is good to spread spore by carrying the mushrooms that you pick while natural foraging, in a bag with holes, so the spore spreads in the area you are walking through.

I had some morel mushrooms from our area and tossed spore into the lawn, which had no effect/affect, I think it is effect, over the years.

I also had fairy mushrooms growing in a huge circle in the lawn which we tilled up and ruined the party and they weren't safe to eat anyways. ha ha.

If you don't mind, I have a friend that is trying to grow mushrooms and I'm going to pass on some of your information, because she fails with outdoor mushrooms often and it frustrates her.

I have read the hay method, so we purchased fresh hay (and it does need to be fresh so something else hasn't taken over it with decomposition, like the logs, they must be fresh cut (told to me by a mushroom spore producer)), then boil it, to let the spore be the main innoculant (my spell check doesn't like that word, it suggests innocent, lol).
I had a mushroom picking guide book. It had pictures and descriptions and whether or not it was safe to eat. It had tests, like putting a mushroom or three on paper (white or black, depending on the type of 'shroom) overnight, so you can see what colour the spores are. It also listed which mushrooms were similar and likely to be confused with it and how to tell them apart. I had no luck finding anything edible, except a few morels once. I brought home several different 'shrooms and they were all poisonous. One beautiful, tasty looking mushroom turned out to have the name "poison pie". We just had a good laugh. I didn't bother hunting for them again after winter started that year.
If you don't mind, I have a friend that is trying to grow mushrooms and I'm going to pass on some of your information, because she fails with outdoor mushrooms often and it frustrates her..

Pass on anything you think may benefit her. Obviously Im not an expert and have limited experience, but Im pretty thorough when. I do things and pay attention to detail so I can either duplicate my successes and/ or learn from my (Many) failures.

This is where I get my mushroom stuff from. There is a " Learn" section which is where I get a lot of my info from.

I used to get a mushroom kit from another company ( which has since gone out of business). He posts a lot of YouTube videos. The one I link below is how I learned to do the bucket method. Explained in a very simple way.
Of wild mushrooms, morels are easy to identify from false morels. The true morels, white, or black, have a wrinkled conical cap with the cap edges attached to the stem. Still, make sure you know what your doing. If possible, go with experienced mushroom hunters when collecting any mushrooms.

Pink-gilled field mushrooms. There are no poisonous pink gilled mushrooms in North America. There are poisonous varieties in Australia. These are parasol shaped, with gills radiating from a solid stem to the cap edge. They often grow in fairy rings, and can be plentiful in rich soils, I have found them on golf courses, in well manicured cemeteries, in back yards, and fields. They are often prolific, and are choice, tasting like portabellas, but a little richer. _

Shaggy Mien mushrooms are another easily identified mushroom. I have picked, and savored these choice mushrooms. I does have a look alike taht is also edible. However, if consumed with alcohol, the look alike can make you sick, even if the alcohol is consumed 48 hous after eating the mushroom. Fortunately, the two are easy to tell apart. Sha
ggy mains need to be used within hours of collecting, as the cap begins to dissolve into an inky goop within a few hours. But eaten fresh, they are delectable. -

Black Trumpet Mushrooms - Another easy to identify mushroom. Among the best tasting wild mushrooms out there.

Chicken of the Woods, choic, easy to identify. -

Hen of the Woods -

Porcini (King Bolete) Oh yes. Super choice -

There are so many more choice mushrooms that are east to identify. However, you still need to take a field guide, do the research, and preferably, take an experienced mushroom hunter with you. Or, purchase from your supermarket. I have picked most of these varieties, and enjoyed them. At 66 years of age, and having picked since being introduced to the pink gilled field mushroom as a teen, I've enjoyed some tasty meals.

Seeeeta; Chief Longwind of the North
Fascinating! I hope your oyster mushrooms produce prolifically .
As for wild mushroom hunting, can´t say I´ve ever done that, but I´m sure it must be tremendous fun.
The only potential issue I may have with the bucket method is, in the past ive inoculated it by breaking up a assay dust inoculated log. This time it was grain inoculated. I dont think the material source is an issue, but I only used what I had left over , which was 1/2 as much as when I broke up the log, so Im hoping I had enough grain . But we'll see. All its costs me was some hay and a little bit of time.

- Its about 6 days for the Mushrooms growing on the toilet paper and 3 1/2 days for the ones growing in the hay/ bucket.

- The kit Im growing comes with 3 different varieties of oyster mushrooms, which I labeled

- The Mycelium has started growing in each case and variety, but at different rates.

- As you can see in the pic, the inoculated grains are completely covered with mycelium in the bag on the left, but less so in the middle bag and even less on the right. but all show signs of growth.
(For comparison purposes, I included the pic taken immediately after I put bags together, so you can see the inoculated grains ( in the center and on tope of the toilet paper rolls ) as they looked day 1.
***The bucket lid was removed for picture purposes. It is typically on throughout the process, and the bucket is inside a large black trash bag with aa slight opening on top to maintain humidity, yet allow some air flow.***

***Mycelium: the vegetative part of a fungus, consisting of a network of fine white filaments (hyphae).***

- Everything was constant when putting the bags together other than the variety of mushroom spawn used. (TP brand, heating process, loading process, storing location ( darkness , temperature..)

- This leads me to believe that it either has to do with the specific variety itself which may develop at different rates, or how inoculated the grain was for each variety when I received it.

- I was able to make 5 bags per variety ( 15 in total), and the bags for each variety acted the same as their variety counterpart .

- The hay is showing sings of Mycelium growth also, as you can see the fine white fungus spreading on the surface after only 3 1/2 days.

- For the hay I actually mixed all 3 varieties , as I didn't have enough of any one single variety for a bucket of that size. You're not supposed to mix mushrooms when doing something like this, as there is competition, but I figured they were all oyster mushrooms, and what the heck.

- Basicall got another week to go before the next step in the process ( for the toilet paper ) which is placing them in the fridge for a few days to " shock' them into producing. and (for the bucket) would be changing locations from a dark room to a lighter room with daily misting.

Ill Follow up in another week.


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Quick update.
The mushrooms are bout to go into phase 2 , which is transferring them into the fridge for a few days. This shocks the mushrooms into fruiting. They can stay in the fridge for 6 months, but once you take them out, that cold to warm temp change is what triggers them.

I usually take 2 out at a time every 1 or 2 weeks. This keeps me with a steady supply of mushrooms throughout the winter ( I have 15 bags worth). Since this year Im doing 3 different varieties, I may start with 3 bags ( one of each variety) just for a side to side to side comparison on growth, taste and success ( or failure).

I can already see the difference in growth comparing the 3 varieties. Not sure if it is the variety itself for maybe how inoculated the substrate I received was for each variety. What I do know is everything else is constant, so those are the only 2 factors I could think of that would affect (effect) the difference.

Here is a pic of them in the outside fridge where they will sit for at least 2 days.

Just to refresh your memory , they are growing on hydrated toilet paper rolls. The inoculated material is dumped in the center of the toilet paper, and it slowly takes over the whole roll. You can see ( especially on the top shelf), how it is covered with white fungus. The lower shelf you can still see some of the grains.

Lower right are a few jars of pickled green tomatoes from at least 2 years ago. Still good, but so sour, I can only eat them sparingly.


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