Growing Pearl Oyster Mushrooms in bags

Behold, for we have home-grown pearl oyster mushrooms, and you can too. The process of growing them from scratch is not that tricky once you know how, and results in a luscious harvest of fresh oyster mushrooms.

First of all, you need good spawn. For this session, our Mushroom Cultivation educator Will Borowski used a block of grain spawn that he’d grown at home, but you can buy a block of spawn if you’re not quite up to speed on that step. Here’s what to do next:

Will Borowski empties a bag of grain spawn into a tub of freshly sterilized straw

Fully colonized grain spawn on straw, ready to mix

Will mixes it all in with freshly washed hands

Students start filling the bags

Hooray! Bag ‘o’ mushrooms

Finished mushroom bag, languishing amongst other student resources

So there you have it. Add grain spawn to freshly sterilized straw (which you can make by this method) which is a bit damp, mix it well and bag it up. The last step is to ensure that a little, but not too much air can get into the bag while the mycelium colonises the substrate.

For these bags we used the off-the-shelf bag necks that you can get from mushroom suppliers, but you could cut down plastic bottle necks to do the same job. A piece of foam ensures that spores of other fungi + molds can’t get in, while allowing a very small amount of air in.

Bag neck with foam inserted to prevent contamination while the straw gets its oysters on.

Mycelium starting to ‘run’ and colonise the straw… it doesn’t take long at this time of year

Two weeks after packing the bags, the oyster mushrooms are bursting out the sides! This bag got a hole in it somewhere along the line, and the mushrooms made the most of it.

2 weeks after bagging, with the bags fully colonized by the mycelium, we remove the foam, wait a day or two, and out come the mushrooms out the neck hole… yum yum.

Fruiting mushrooms are a quiet cacophony. That’s the best way I have to describe it… it’s this wonderful event, worthy of trumpets. But it’s silent. And at the end you get to eat them!

There’s no way we could afford these mushrooms from the shops, nor is there any chance that in Mudgee we could source fresh organic ones anyway. But with a bit of know-how and good teachers, we’re working up to skills that we can pass on far and wide, and which will give us a lifetime supply…

If you’d like to learn comprehensive mushroom cultivation, we run awesome Mushroom Cultivation Courses in Sydney and beyond…

>> More Mushroom Cutivation resources, books and how-tos

16 Comments

  1. Posted November 10, 2012 at 4:25 am | Permalink | Reply

    how can we obtain the mycelium and perpetuate it?

  2. Posted November 10, 2012 at 6:38 am | Permalink | Reply

    Is it hard to grow more specialised mushrooms at home? I have been searching the net and ended up scared off by the sterilisation and the specialised equipment needed to do it. As a vegan, mushrooms are part of my “meat” quotient and vegan bacon starts with oyster mushrooms :). Cheers for a wonderful post about one of my favourite foods :)

    • NrG
      Posted November 22, 2012 at 9:49 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Hi narf77 – after doing one of Will’s courses I now have Shiitaki, Reishi, Abalone/Giant/Pink/White oyster mushrooms plus some Tiger and a few others that I got directly from Will or from his website. A lot of fun and my wife and I have just finished a gorgeous meal of Shiitaki, Pink and Giant oyster mushrooms stir fried with some leek and italian red onion fresh from the garden. The sterilisation side scared me off originally but Will put it all into perspective, I have lost a couple of bags due to mold whereas other runs (such as Shiitaki and Reishi) ended up eating all the mold and producing great mushies. I ended up just doing 20% more bags than I needed and assume a few will be lost… easy. Have fun and enjoy some great food :)

  3. Posted November 10, 2012 at 8:28 am | Permalink | Reply

    Paul Stamets has an excellent choice of kits to choose from and his books are top-notch for growing info. His website is http://www.fungiperfecti.com. Thanks for all the great info! We’re looking forward to adding mushroom growing to our little farm.

    • NrG
      Posted November 22, 2012 at 9:41 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Hi Jenny. A quick note to say that it is much safer to buy your spawn/kits from within Australia as you need to pass some very stringent controls to import them, not an easy process. Will, the teacher above, has a website at fungiforest.com.au where you can get the spawn and read up on more details. As he is travelling at the moment he may not be selling ill early December but still has a lot of excellent information available.

  4. Glenn Hinton
    Posted November 10, 2012 at 2:55 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I live in Laidley Qld. and I find all of these articles involving mushroom growing very interesting.
    I would like to know if there’s any online coarse available?

    Regards
    Glenn

  5. tiffany
    Posted November 11, 2012 at 8:37 pm | Permalink | Reply

    what happens after harvest? does it grow more or does it just go in the compost? i find it so interesting :)

    • Posted November 12, 2012 at 10:37 am | Permalink | Reply

      you get between one and six more ‘flushes’ of mushrooms, then it’s on the the compost or, if the substrate was grain, on to the chooks or pigs!

  6. Posted November 12, 2012 at 1:37 am | Permalink | Reply

    Reblogged this on X_trous Notes.

  7. Posted April 14, 2013 at 5:12 am | Permalink | Reply

    What kind of foam is used? What is it made of?

    • Posted April 14, 2013 at 12:51 pm | Permalink | Reply

      It’s not foam, it’s mycelium covered grain :)

      • Pam Olive
        Posted April 15, 2013 at 2:07 am | Permalink

        The picture indicates that a pice of “foam” is inserted in the neck to prevent contamination. I’m wondering what kind of “foam” it is.

      • Posted April 15, 2013 at 6:12 am | Permalink

        Aha. It’s just regular foam of that semi-porous grade… The mycelium don’t colonise it so its basically an inert membrane at the neck of the bag

      • Pam Olive
        Posted April 15, 2013 at 7:10 am | Permalink

        Gotcha. Thanks :)

  8. carole gilman
    Posted October 24, 2013 at 8:48 am | Permalink | Reply

    can bag of spawn (mushrooms) and straw be – delayed until bag is cut and watered.
    How long can the bag be in a dormant stage?
    Thanks
    Carole
    caroleg@seracon.ca

    • Health Advocate
      Posted January 13, 2014 at 6:50 pm | Permalink | Reply

      This also interests me… how long can the bag stay dormant… and how to revive? Is it as simple as not watering and then re-watering?

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