Feature Friday: Mushroom Varieties – Shiitake
Today we are focusing on the very flavourful Shiitake mushrooms.
Description: Shiitake mushrooms have a large, fleshy brown cap, and are anywhere from 2-4 inches in diameter. They are tan to dark brown in colour, with tan gills.
Taste: Shiitakes have a soft, spongy quality, producing a woodsy, meaty flavour and texture when cooked.
Uses: This mushroom is most commonly used in stir-fry, and pasta meals. Shiitake mushrooms are often used in Asian cultures because of the belief that they have medicinal properties.
How they Grow: Shiitake mushrooms were originally grown on natural oak logs. The process took a very long time because it takes up to four years for the mycelium to colonize the wood sufficiently enough to produce shiitakes. When the mushrooms did grow it was only in the spring and fall. One natural oak log could last up to 6 years.
With new technology, mushroom farmers can create artificial logs that produce shiitake mushrooms much faster. Oak sawdust, straw, corn cobs and other organic materials are mulched up and packed into a poly bag where it is sterilized and inoculated with spawn. These bags are place in environmentally controlled rooms, where the humidity and light are set at the ideal growing conditions for shiitake mushrooms. The man-made logs will start to produce shiitakes in seven weeks. Once the shiitake have started to grow, it takes another 7 days for them to be ready for harvest. Once a log is completely harvested and the first flush is finished, the log is soaked in ice cold water for about 1 hour. This re-actives the mushroom mycelia causing the log to start growing again. This new process takes about 4 months compared to the six year cycle on natural logs.
posted by Brittany