Friday, October 8, 2010
Growing Oyster Mushrooms
See the oyster mushroom sprouting from the 'bottles'? Hahaha....don't be mistaken. Mommy is not setting up a new mushroom-growing venture, and nor has Mommy bought or prepared the 'bottles'. Actually, these 'bottles' were given by Mommy's colleague who is an oyster mushroom expert (in Mommy's eyes). This colleague has been growing oyster mushrooms for a substantial amount of time already because it was part of the methodology for her M. Sc. project. She told Mommy that she is very fed up of eating this mushroom and that she has eaten it in all possible cooking styles already. So whenever she has a harvest, she is very willing to give it away and Mommy will very happily accept it!
Well, that was the harvest itself. Then one day, knowing that Mommy loves to eat mushrooms, she gave Mommy the culture 'bottles' together with the media inside. She gave Mommy a crash course on how to care for the 'bottles' so that it will give the wanted yield. According to her, the 'bottles' should be kept in places with high humidity, and preferably in shaded places. How to ensure that the place has high humidity? Just make sure the place always has water. So if the place doesn't have water, then you can merely fill a container with water and put it next to the 'bottles', or you can place the 'bottles' on a piece of wet cloth. Then, for maintenance, merely sprinkle the 'bottles' with water from time to time. So for that, Mommy choose to put them in the downstairs bathroom! That bathroom is the most shaded place in the house with sufficient ventilation and at any one time has two big basins of water that is collected from the third round of washing clothes in the washing machine to fulfill the high humidity requirement.
Shown here is the day Mommy received those 'bottles' and Juan Or fiddling with one of the 'bottles'.
By the way, the 'bottles' are not really solid bottles. They are merely the growth media stuffed into a transparent plastic bag and then fitted with a cap-like opening for the mushrooms to grow out. So what are in the growth medium? According to Mommy's colleague, it contains saw dust, rice bran and limestone in a ratio of 100:10:1 of dry weight. The amount of water needed for the mixture has to be at least 75% of the total dry weight. After mixing everything (i.e., the saw dust, rice bran, limestone and water) and then stuffing it into an autoclavable plastic bag (and fitted with the cap-like opening), the whole thing is autoclaved to kill whatever microorganisms inside. After that, she would innoculate the medium with a small amount of mycelium (laymen would refer to it as the fungus' root network). Over time, the mycelium will propagate in the medium until one day when it is strong enough, the oyster mushroom will sprout out.
At the time she gave Mommy the 'bottles', one of them already had a tiny bit sprouting already, and then within just 2 days, it grew to this big!
And when you want to harvest, all you need to do is just to pull the mushrooms out in a twisting motion. This is to ensure that the immediate mycelium connected to the mushroom are pulled out as well, otherwise the remnant mycelium (which will die and dry out) will block future mushrooms from sprouting out. Here'a closer look of the harvest.
After that harvest, no more mushrooms sprouted. However, according to Mommy's colleague, if grown under controlled conditions (i.e., at least 85% air humidity and temperature of 23 to 26 degree Centigrade), the next sprouting should usually occur about 10 days after the last harvest. So Mommy shouldn't be surprised why there was no sprouting after that because the bathroom's temperature on average is probably around 30-plus degree Centigrade!
Anyway, in early October, that is, about a month after the last harvest, two of the bottles started sprouting again! Yippy! For this batch, in just about 12 hours, the mushrooms, from unnoticeable size (it was too small until Mommy didn't notice it had already started sprouting!) had grown to this big!
So happen that day also, Mommy's colleague again gave four more 'bottles'. Yippy! Here they are!
More oyster mushrooms for Juan Or and Mommy in the near future! By the way, Juan Or loves the smell of oyster mushrooms. Whenever he walks into this bathroom and focused his attention on those 'bottles', he would shout out,"MUSHROOM!" ^_^