In your backyard. I totally get it. After this interview with mushroom expert Tradd Cotter, who wouldn’t want to grow gourmet mushrooms for $2/lb and minimal time investment? The fact that you decided to inoculate a **few** backup logs just in case makes perfect sense to me.
Now it’s time to discuss what to do with all these amazing mushrooms you’ve grown… you know… now that you’re officially a
I’ve often dreamed of opening a booth at our farmer’s market just so the little potami could get the experience of working in a “family business,” but had no idea what we might sell. Our six-year-old neighbor sells honey from bees they keep on their property, so I think we’ll specialize in mushrooms! Booths are hard to come by at our bustling market, so I think we’ll either sell directly to the farmers who are already set up or ask if Katie can join them behind the counter one day a month while I supervise. Considering how many people there love her I think we can find someone to take us on!
If selling is not your thing, you could trade them for stuff you need. I’ve noticed that quite a few of our local farmers trade with each other at the market before closing time. They often take their excess and work out ongoing deals with each other to swap specialty items. Imagine what you might exchange for your extra mushrooms! Sun-ripened tomatoes, raw cheese, or even blueberries! Yippee!
Now that gourmet mushrooms are on your radar, I’m betting you’ll start to find more and more recipes that will work wonderfully with them: soups, stews, stir-fry’s, omeletes, pasta, and fondue for starters.
In the meantime, you can dehydrate your excess mushrooms for soups later, or ferment them for salads!
Or after-school projects, or whatever! Every step of this process can be turned into a learning opportunity for your kids, and folks are often very generous when they know they’re giving supplies to an educational venture. (Tree-trimmers are a great place to get freshly cut log stumps and coffee shops will donate coffee grounds.)
Katie loved helping me start our indoor and outdoor mushroom projects, and I can’t wait to guide her through the process of cooking, storing, and trading our very own mushrooms. By the time she’s a tween I hope she’ll be a competent cultivator of one or two plants/fungi, with valuable skills she developed in low pressure situations as a small child. You’re never too young to learn to grow food!
Several mushrooms can be made into medicinal teas to support immune and liver function. According to Tradd, the mushroom expert I interviewed earlier this week,
The easiest medicinal mushroom to cultivate is the Reishi, or Ling Chi mushroom (Ganoderma lucidum), also known as ‘the Mushroom of Immortality’,which is easily cultivated on logs. The same method for drilling and plugging logs with spawn is used, just as in shiitake cultivation, except the logs are placed on the ground, laying down partially submerged in the soil. These mushrooms prefer to fruit from buried wood, so once you infect some fresh hardwood logs with spawn you can bury the pieces and check back about a year later in the spring and summer.
Reishi mushrooms have been used for thousands of years for stimulating immune function, regulating sugars and liver function, as well as a acting as a non-narcotic sedative or sleeping aid when taken as a tea at night. It has been used for thousands of years in Japanese and Chinese herbal medicine, conveniently this mushroom loves to grow in the Southeastern United States and can be a great addition to your herbal garden outdoors.”
For info on making medicinal teas and extracts, check out this post.
Mushrooms create a “living filter” which break down all kinds of toxins in the environment. Oyster mushrooms are known to break down 80% of DDT in 28 days and they are also effective against herbicides like atrazine – they can also fully break down disposable diapers in four months! (In case you’re wondering, the typical break down time without help is 250-500 years)
To reclaim land that has been heavily sprayed or otherwise polluted, you might try blending some oyster mushroom mycelium into wood chips and spreading it over the affected area. Check out Mushroom Mountain / Mycoremediation for more info.
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Daddypotamus snapped this pic when we were at Whole Foods the other day, and all I can say is wooooow. Though I’m sure those are some mighty tasty mushrooms – probably gathered at the foot of a waterfall where unicorns graze or something – the fact is I flat cannot justify paying $30/pound for them. Okay, maybe i could buy one.
Here’s the thing, though: Mushrooms are incredibly rich in a an amino acid called ergothioneine, which is a potent antioxidant often used in “anti-aging” skin creams. They’re also rich in selenium, an essential mineral needed in order to detoxify harmful substances such as arsenic and fluoride. Add in the B vitamins, natural vitamin D2, potassium and pantothenic acid for optimal hormone function, and you’ve got plenty of reasons to indulge.
Fortunately, according to Tradd Cotter of Mushroom Mountain you can grow your own at home for as little as $2/pound! I recently “met” Tradd after reading through the list of speakers for the Organic Grower’s School Permaculture Conference in North Carolina next month. I’m seriously hoping a few of you will be able to make it for a real-life meet up, but for those that can’t I thought it would be fun to bring a little piece of the conference to you.
Below are a few techniques Tradd has been kind enough to share with me. You are going to LOVE how easy and fun they are!
If you have trouble locating freshly cut logs for this method, I recommend calling a tree trimmer and asking if he will set some aside for you!
You will need:
Basically, this is planting your mushroom “seed.” According to Tradd, the log should be inoculated within 6 weeks of being felled. It needs to be dry on the outside, free of dirt. Lichens and moss are OK. If your log was cut 0-3 weeks prior to inoculation no action is needed, but if it was cut 3-6 weeks before it should be soaked in non-chlorinated water for 12 hours prior to inoculation. To get started:
Download written instructions with diagrams from Mushroom Mountain here.
Click here for a handout on care instructions, plus how to “trick” your mushroom log into fruiting more often by simulating the beginning of winter.
Apologies for the video quality!
There are two basic ways to do this:
Store your mushroom jar in a cabinet until it the jar is filled with white mycelium or it starts to fruit, then move it to a place with indirect sunlight/fluorescent light and mist 2-3 times a day to encourage growth. When the edges of the caps start to turn upwards, cut at the base of the stems and sautee!
I have a few suggestions! Leave a comment below just to say hello, check out the FAQ’s on mushroom growing that Tradd covered earlier this week, or plan your quest to capture a unicorn by the waterfall where the $29.99/pound mushrooms grow.
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When someone writes “Mommy Pot” next to a transaction linked to my website, they are just making abbreviated notes for their own use. Though I do encourage the medicinal use of plants, I do not, in fact, sell pot.
It seemed like a good idea to get this straight before I admit I am growing medicinal mushrooms in my backyard. Not the kind that make you see aliens dressed up like Hello Kitty. Actual medicinal mushrooms. Are we good?
The adventurers. The ones who “prescribe” breast milk and know your farmers by name, I have a special treat. Tradd Cotter, an expert in mushroom cultivation, foraging, and mycoremediation is here to teach us how to grow both medicinal and gourmet mushrooms in our own backyards.
He’ll also be covering how to grow yummy oyster mushrooms on your kitchen counter using recycled coffee grounds.
Today we’re going to get started with mushroom basics, then we’ll get to the how-to and medicinal formulas later this week.
Thank you for joining us, Tradd!
Tradd: Greetings everyone! Thank you Mommpotamus for hosting me to field some questions about mushroom production…
Tradd: It would cost the average homeowner about $16/pound for specialty mushrooms if purchased versus producing them at home or commercially for less than $2 per pound. Since the cultures, or spawn go a long way, you can take advantage of inexpensive growing media that is available locally to minimize costs and increase production based on your skill level.
Homeowners should be able to cultivate fresh oyster and shiitake mushrooms in the range of $2-3 per pound, with very little work involved, since labor is the most expensive component, and it is very uncomplicated to set up a system for as little as a few hours a week to produce 10 pounds or more of mushrooms no matter where you live. Most mushroom gardens only take a few minutes per day to mist and harvest, with a few hours one day devoted to making another batch for continuing a weekly harvest indefinitely. Not a bad reward versus expense!
[Mommypotamus follow up: Not bad at all! For those of us who want to grow a lot less than 10 pounds I'm assuming the time commitment is very minimal then. Yay!]
In other words, are mushrooms like high-maintenance gremlins that have to be fed only during certain hours? Are people going to save money or end up spending the equivalent of $100 a mushroom?
Tradd: Mushrooms are super easy to grow, and extremely profitable from a commercial standpoint. It also depends if the grower intends to do homegrown or commercial techniques, but I encourage beginners to start with what I call “training wheel” mushrooms that are almost impossible not to fruit, like the Oyster mushrooms of the genus Pleurotus, such as Blue, Golden, and Pink. They will fruit commercially on agricultural waste such as shredded wheat straw, peanut hulls and whatever your local farmers are shelling out, including urban waste such as paper, cardboard, old cotton clothing and much more…
On a scale of one to ten the oysters are a one, shiitake are second, and king stropharia on wood chips outdoors an easy third for anyone wishing to ramp up their knowledge of mushroom cultivation. Don’t be intimidated to grow mushrooms, but don’t jump up to a difficult species right out of the gate, build your understanding and you will be amazed how many incredible mushrooms you can grow indoors and out anywhere in the world.
Mushrooms can grow year-round, depending on the variety of spawn you purchase. Also some species come in different temperature strains, such as shiitake and oyster, that have cold and warm strains that you can plant just ahead of that season to get fruiting.
Liken it to planting collards and broccoli in the fall, then tomatoes and squash in the spring. Yes, they can be seasonal in that sense!
I’m assuming oyster mushrooms don’t thrive in, say, Texas or Arizona?
Tradd: Oyster mushrooms can grow anywhere, there are many varieties and cultivars, both warm and cold strains of species that have been adapted to a wide range of climates and growing substrates, making them extremely versatile and easy for growers everywhere. The key component is occasional misting or watering during fruiting…
If expanding your spawn on spent coffee, cardboard and paper, or shredded straw, the time from planting to fruiting is only a few weeks. The more spawn you use, the faster the spawn run and fruiting time, but it will not generally produce more mushrooms, that is why using spawn sparingly and trying to expand it to its full potential can be very productive and economical.
Olga makes “Mushroom Fries.” Split the oyster mushrooms, pull them apart since they are stringy, soak them in milk and eggs, then coat them with flour and meal. Fry them and serve with a spicy mayonaise sauce. They resemble calamari but not as chewy, very delicious!
If you’re interested in learning about homesteading, stocking your medicine cabinet with tinctures from seven common plants, or starting your first garden, join me at the Organic Growers School Permaculture Conference at the University of North Carolina on March 9-10.
Tradd will be speaking on medicinal mushrooms (yay!) and there will be restaurants on site selling local and organic food. Please let me know if you can make it – I’d love to grab lunch together!Read More »
These popcorn balls are great for unofficial holidays like Tuesday, run-to-the-bank day, and, um, no pants day. Of course they’re perfect for birthday parties, movie nights and rainy days, too, but I’ll bet you already thought of that.
We love the sweet orange burst of flavor of our homemade gummies, but feel free to add your own twist to the recipe – candied orange peels, chocolate chips, and dried pineapple would all be delicious!
Note: As I mention in the recipe, these popcorn balls are chewy rather than crunchy. However, if you like a little crunch factor just leave them to dry for 24 hours or so.
For the marshmallow creme:
1. Pop popcorn and put 8 cups into a large baking pan. Set two cups aside in a bowl.
2. Add gummy stars and chopped almonds to the baking pan
3. With the remaining ingredients whip up a batch of marshmallow creme using this recipe. Please note that you will be making a half batch, so use the proportions listed above instead of the ones in the recipe! Also, when they instruction say to pour the marshmallow creme into a pan you’ll want to pour it over the popcorn.
4. Rub your hands with butter and mix marshmallow with other ingredients thoroughly, adding extra popcorn until there is a thin coat of creme all over. What you’ll have at this point is a giant mess that falls apart easily. Don’t worry, just divide your mixture into small globs and place them on sheet of wax paper. After they’ve had about 20-30 minutes to set they’ll easily form into balls.
5. These popcorn balls are a bit chewy if eaten right away, but they become more crunchy if you let them dry out on the counter for about 24 hours.
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Every time you see a squishy newborn? Would you love to give a gift that’s hundreds of times more valuable than a package of diapers at the next baby shower? Are you a mom of grown children who wants the best for your future grandbabies?
If so, don’t miss this unbelievable offer from my good friend, Kristen Michaelis of Food Renegade. To celebrate the release of her new book, Beautiful Babies, everyone who pre-orders will receive a FREE enrollment in her $199 e-course on nutrition for fertility, pregnancy, breastfeeding and baby’s first foods. You can check out the class here.
Just last week I recommended the Beautiful Babies book – which includes a foreword from Joel Salatin no less – as a great budget-friendly alternative for those who can’t afford the class. Now you can get them BOTH for the same price!!
There’s just one: You have to buy the book while it’s on pre-order status. Yep, that’s it.
Step One: Pre-Order The Book
Step Two: Email Kristen Your Order Receipt
Email your order receipt to email@example.com.
BOOM, You’re In!
After Kristen verifies your pre-order, she will email you a coupon that you can redeem for your free enrollment.
That’s totally fine. In fact if you buy a book for, say, both of your daughter’s you can get a free enrollment for each of them. When you enroll in the online course, you’ll have a chance to put in the students name and email address. Just put down your loved one’s contact information instead of your own and they’re enrolled!Read More »
Your suspicion that the bucket of “cleaning fluid” used to sanitize the elementary music class recorders smelled a little funny was spot on. After one very shocking junior high truth or dare session with a group of boys from several elementary schools (and other girls), it became crystal clear why a few of them rarely asked to be excused to the restroom. [cringe]
Most of us can look back and laugh about those kinds of things – especially if we played the triangle and not the recorder! However, there’s a giant company that’s doing the equivalent of peeing in the bucket, only it’s our food supply and the “pee” is poison. Yesterday Kristen of Food Renegade posted a quote from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds, which found that based on the seeds they’ve tested about half of America’s heirloom corn varieties are now contaminated with GMO strains. I’m not laughing, you?
Fortunately, if you want avoid GMO’s but can’t give up your chips, here are some options:
According to the Institute For Responsible Technology, blue corn does not cross-pollinate with GMO varieties. You can buy the seeds to make your own cornmeal and corn chips or just buy some at the store.
UPDATE: The Institute has updated their info and now states that “Blue corn cross-pollinates with current GM corn varieties.”
There are a couple of things to keep in mind, though:
Here’s what blogger Elizabeth Yarnell has to say:
At the Seeds of Doubt conference recently, Jeffery Smith, executive director of the Institute for Responsible Technology and GMO expert, assured us that even though almost 90% of the corn grown and eaten in this country is GMO corn, popcorn comes from a different seed and has not been genetically modified.
So, while you should assume that your Doritos brand corn chips and those sweet corn cobs on sale at the grocery store are Genetically Modified even though they are not labeled as such, you’ll never have to worry about your popcorn being GMO. Makes you feel a little bit better about ordering that large tub at the movie theater!
Is this good news or WHAT!?!? I confess I’ll still be sneaking popcorn into the movie theater with real butter and salt, but it’s still great news. I double checked with the Institute For Responsible Technology website and was able to confirm that popcorn does not cross-pollinate with GMO varieties of yellow and white corn, leaving it’s status as one of the healthiest snacks you can eat intact.
Want one more reason to celebrate? Then check back this Friday, because I’m sharing a popcorn ball recipe you former Rice Krispy treat junkies do not want to miss!Read More »
How about heart medications containing nitroglycerin and anti-psychotics such as lithium? Obviously, the answer is no, but it happens every day without our knowledge or consent.
In a study conducted by the Southern Nevada Water Authority, researchers found that drinking water is often laced with a wide variety of active pharmaceuticals and hormonally active chemicals. These drugs come from the 271 million pounds of prescription medications legally dumped into into our waterways by manufacturers, plus the substantial burden added by consumers.
Consumers are considered the biggest contributors to the contamination. We consume drugs, then excrete what our bodies don’t absorb. Other times, we flush unused drugs down toilets. The AP also found that an estimated 250 million pounds of pharmaceuticals and contaminated packaging are thrown away each year by hospitals and long-term care facilities.
Researchers have found that even extremely diluted concentrations of drugs harm fish, frogs and other aquatic species. Also, researchers report that human cells fail to grow normally in the laboratory when exposed to trace concentrations of certain drugs. Some scientists say they are increasingly concerned that the consumption of combinations of many drugs, even in small amounts, could harm humans over decades.
Municipal water filtration systems are not equipped to remove these contaminants, but there is a filter I trust to do it for less than it costs to filter a gallon of water using a Brita pitcher. Drumroll please . . .
If you’ve never heard of them, Berkey claims to be the most powerful and economical water purification systems in the world. Based on corroborating studies from the University of Arizona, Spectrum Labs, and the LA Environmental Toxicology Laboratory, I believe them.
Not only does it remove chlorine and it’s toxic byproducts (oh my goodness, have you SEEN what dioxin can do to a person?), you can order a special additional filter that removes fluorides also. In case you’re wondering why that might be a good idea, please read this post.
Berkey purifiers also remove 99.99999% of pathogenic bacteria, cysts and parasites while extracting chemicals including herbicides, pesticides, organic solvents, VOCs, detergents, cloudiness, silt and sediment.
Cadmium, chromium, copper, lead, aluminum, mercury and other dangerous heavy metals are also removed (95%), as well as nitrates and nitrites, without removing beneficial minerals! Because there are literally too many pharmaceuticals floating around to realistically test for, Berkey does not make claims regarding pharmaceuticals. However, drug molecules are the same size or larger than the VOCs, which Berkey is certified to remove. Since the main issue affecting effectiveness is whether the pores of the filter are small enough to grab the molecule, I feel fairly confident that pharmaceuticals are removed. Add to that that activated carbon seems to have a particular affinity for drugs – it is often used in emergency settings to filter harmful drugs out of the blood of a poisoned patient – and you could say I sleep well at night regarding this issue.
Would you like to experience the bliss that is crystal clear, amazing tasting water? Good, because I’m giving a Royal Berkey away with the optional fluoride filters!
It’s simple! I have back-to-back giveaways planned for at least the next six months, but to be eligible you must be subscribed to my monthly newsletter. (Note: If you are not subscribed to my monthly newsletter when the winner is chosen, you will not be eligible to win.) As they say, you have to be in it to win it!
So, if you want to win, here’s what you have to do:
This giveaway is open to U.S. residents onlyRead More »
How I got my junk-food loving husband to get on board with a real food diet. It’s simply, really:
I seduced him.
Ahem. I mean I seduced his palate and his imagination with all his favorites, real foodified. If you’re gearing up for game day this weekend and you have a real food skeptic coming over, give these recipes a try!
This jalapeno popper dip takes a little planning since you have to make your own cottage cheese, but YUM! Not that I’m really surprised considering the recipe calls for almost an entire stick of butter.
If you want to skip the canned diced tomatoes and green chilies, make it from scratch using this recipe.
Oh my, I think my lack of humility is showing!
Truth be told, though, this is not really my recipe. It’s the way just about everyone I know makes it back home.
Ridiculously easy to make and perfect for dipping, these crisps are a great alternative to potato chips.
Seriously, we are talking one ingredient and a few minutes of your time here. Try these.
Did you know that popcorn has higher levels of polyphenols (antioxidants) than most fruits? It’s true. According to The Healthy Home Economist it’s one of the healthiest snacks you can eat.
Of course, we’re not talking about the microwaveable stuff whose vapors can cause irreversible and possibly life threatening lung damage. We’re talking about air popped corn drizzled in real butter, made in a whirly pop, or on the stove. Don’t overdo it as too much can irritate the digestive tract, but if you’re not grain-free definitely pop some up this Sunday!
Looking for something with a little extra crunch factor? Check out these paleo spiced nuts from Elana’s Pantry.
Check out the recipe here
If you have some sourdough starter on hand, make up these pretzel bites! I love her trick for making them extra chewy.
These Italian pocket sandwiches look good, too, if you can find quality sourdough baguettes.
First up is my ultimate beef and liver chili. Now, before you automatically skip on to the next one read this!
“I made your liver chili from your book Nourished Baby! [It's the same one linked to above] The first time I made it I didn’t tell that it was liver. My husband unknowingly said it was the best chili he ever had. He even requests it if I wait too long to make it. He went to the farmer’s market last week just to get the liver so I would make it!”
Also worth considering:
This recipe from DIY Natural also looks ah-MAZing, but I would modify the recipe to use traditionally soaked beans instead of canned ones
Though not technically chili, these fiery hot pork skewers pictured above are totally on my list.
This grain-free cookie recipe is super chewy even without the addition of an egg, so if you run out of time in the kitchen just toss the dough on the living room table and let them dive in.
Love Reese’s peanut butter cups but not the corn syrup solids, nonfat milk and tertiary butylhydroquinone?
Here’s a recipe for a healthy homemade version.
I debated whether to put these under sweet things or chips because there’s an intriguing chili-lime variation that I want to try.
Since they’re so simple I guess I’ll do both!
Oh yes, these are for kids of all ages. Just yesterday Daddypotamu came wandering in and said, “Where are the gummy stars you promised the kids?” When I told him the kids had already eaten them the look on his face said it all! Better make a double batch just to be safe.