Tag Archives: mushrooms

Fungi foray


The first slippery jacks of the year are up – but it’s been quite dry so the season may not be brilliant. No saffies (saffron milkcaps)  yet 😦 Still we had a nice picnic scouting for mushrooms for next saturday’s meeting, although it would have been better without the wasps TIP: do not bring sausages for a sizzle at this time of year . They left our mushrooms alone though! Apparently they are hunting meat for their young right now. Earlier in the year they are after fruit. Shucks – all out of step with the firebans!

The Oberon visitor’s center in NSW still publishes a guide to these mushrooms http://www.oberonaustralia.com.au/visitor-information/things-to-see-do/mushroom-picking/

and while on the subject of NSW mushroom foragers – the same day Bella and her Youth food movement crew hauled a bumper crop of saffies for the Guerilla Dinner from what is obviously a far better managed resource than the cut and burn approach of Forestry Tas (although unfortunately Belangalo State Forest is also famous for backpacker murders which really puts a damper on the whole idea of tromping about the woods doesn’t it?) http://www.youthfoodmovement.org.au/foraging-for-the-fruits-of-nsw/

In early may 4 – 5th there will be a fungi workshop in the Tarkine with the mycology boffins focusing on native species getting their research in before more tasmanian destruction of forest 😦


Growing oyster mushrooms on coffee grounds


Thanks to the Astrotas presentation last year I have been roped into talking about how to grow oyster mushrooms at home, cheaply and easily using readily available supplies and non sterile techniques. SIMPLE in theory but I have yet to actually get some mushrooms although my spawn is coming along nicely after two failed batches which succumbed to mold.  20130331-135826.jpg
For safety please only use food grade cleaning solutions, implements and substrates (including paper or cardboard) – whatever your mushrooms eat will be what you eat! Mushrooms are fresh food – don’t eat any that are slimy or spoiled. Cut them and store in paper bag in fridge before the edges unroll to prevent spores being released into the home ( these can cause allergies).

Just following this dudes instructable for a continuous supply of pearl oyster mushrooms –

” oyster mushrooms are very easy to try as they usually have mycelium on the stem butts, they love coffeee grounds and are very vigorous (even if you get some contamination they out compete mould under most circumstances if left alone. Should you get some spots of mould quickly remove them and try a cooler temperature to help the mushrooms get the upper hand. Also you can try filling a spray bottle with 3% hydrogen peroxide and give the mold some sprays. Mycelium is actually very tolerant of peroxide so it makes a good choice for keeping things clean.)” ~ http://www.instructables.com/id/Gourmet-mushrooms-in-an-old-coffee-cup/?ALLSTEPS

either purchase spawn or start your own spawn from oyster mushroom stembutts. Follow these instructions from the mad bioneer http://madbioneer.blogspot.com.au/2011/01/coffee-ground-mushroom-spawn.html This batch has been raised in reboiled coffeegrounds without topping up – I just innoculated the grounds with oyster stembutts in a ratio roughly two parts grounds to one part stems to give them a head start and left them in the fridge till I could see mycelium growing through.

Tips to give your mushroom culture a head start against competing germs:

  1. sterilize all work surfaces containers and implements with heat, alcohol or hydrogen peroxide.
  2. wash hands thoroughly
  3. wear a mask
  4. work under a fanhood
  5. Collect coffee grounds for substrate in sterilised containers with lids – keep in fridge or freezer until ready to innoculate if not using immediately

Optional – running the mycelium onto corrogated cardboard before transfer to a bulk growing medium as described by Paul Stamets book “Mycelium Running” which is in the State library http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UzmwLrDkruk
Prepare straw for bulk substrate if you want more than coffee grounds using hydrogen peroxide http://www.ehow.com/how_7537106_grow-mushrooms-peroxide-method.html

then bag up http://milkwood.net/2012/11/09/growing-pearl-oyster-mushrooms-in-bags/

Pasteurisation – 63 deg C for 60 minutes http://substratecalculator.info/

Q: Should I Pasteurize or Sterilize My Bulk Mushroom Substrate (or neither)?

A: You should always pasteurize your substrate & not sterilize it. The reason for this is because you won’t be innoculating your bulk substrate in sterile conditions like you would if you were doing, say, the PF Tek. You pasteurize a substrate by holding it at 140 degrees Fahrenheit to 160 degrees Fahrenheit for at least 90 minutes.

By only pasteurizing & not sterilizing your bulk substrate, you allow a select group of microorganisms to survive the pasteurization process. These microorganisms in your substrate won’t harm or inhibit the mycelium you’ll be spawning to it, but they do inhibit the growth of molds & other bacteria that may land on your bulk substrate when you’re spawning to it. Pasteurization also ensures that you kill all mold spores, seedlings & most bacteria & other harmful organisms that would otherwise prevent the mushroom mycelium from properly colonizing your substrate.

If you were to sterilize your bulk substrate prior to innoculation, if some mold spore or bacteria were to land on your substrate during the innoculation process (and they most surely will), they will thrive in an environment with no biological competition for the nutrients in your substrate (since molds/bacteria grow at a significantly faster rate than mycelium, the mycelium doesn’t actually count as competition until it has fully colonized a substrate. When mycelium as fully colonized a substrate, it is all but 100% protected from contamination).

How “Wet” Should My Prepared Bulk Mushroom Substrate Be?

A: Your substrate should have enough moisture added to it to bring it to what is referred to as “field capacity”. Field capacity is a term used by mushroom growers (amongst other professions) to refer to the perfect amount of moisture in a given substrate.

To get a rough idea of field capacity, it’s about what a wrung out sponge feels like. If you can pick up a handful of your substrate and hold it in your hand and no water drips from it, then you can squeeze that same handful of substrate kind of hard and only get a couple droplets of water & then lastly, squeeze that same handful of substrate really hard and get a small stream of water for a second or two and then it stops, that’s about field capacity.

Here is an excellent video on YouTube demonstrating how to check your substrate for field capacity.

Spore mass slurry method http://madbioneer.blogspot.com.au/2011/02/spore-mass-slurry.html developed by mycologist Paul Stamets as a way to spread spores over a wide area to help them create mycelium mass.

Further reading in my bitmark collection of websites http://bitly.com/bundles/o_7fsbd1rqgo/1

For the well serious student Milkwood permaculture is sending over Will Borowski Mushroom Cultivation: May 2013 When: May 4 2013 – May 5 2013 9:00am – 5:00pm Where: University of Tasmania – Hobart http://bit.ly/VlONJY?r=bb.

Where to Purchase mushroom kits/spawn

Fungi Culture Attractive counter top box of pearl oyster mushrooms, simple and fully guaranteed kit just open the box and keep moist http://www.fungiculture.com.au/products/pearl-oyster-mushroom-kit

FUNGI Located in Queensland and ships australia wide. http://www.fungi.net Logs or dowel spawn Oyster (white blue and brown) and Shiitake, King Stropharia spawn, button and swiss brown kits. (UPDATE: not reccomended – tried two kits stropharia and shiitake but no mushrooms, worse – won’t answer my phonecalls or emails)

jennys plants, melbourne sells Funghi Mara kits on ebay

Love Mushroom

Oyster Mushroom

Golden Mushroom

Pleurotus Eryngii


The mushrooms may be cultivated by 3 methods:

1. Garden Log Method (shiitake, oyster)

Fresh, green logs approximately 50cm long may be split and seeded with the spawn and then secured together and left to incubate in the garden, Mushrooms start to appear 3 – 6 months on birch wood, and in 8 – 12 months on oak and beech wood. Inoculation may be done all year round. The result is a decorative garden feature which produces edible mushrooms in Spring and Autumn.

Note: Conifer /cedar wood is not suitable for seeding the mushroom spawn.

2. Sandwich Ply Board Method (all)

The sandwich boards are made of specially prepared steam sterilized poplar wood which are used as a “starter” base for the mushrooms, in much the same way as corrugated cardboard method. Once growth is established, the sheets are then transferred to a suitably moist, shady location in the garden where the mushrooms are then picked seasonally. Note: A garage or cellar location with a temperature range of 20 – 30 deg C is is ideal for incubating the wooden sheets.

3. Straw Compost Method (shiitake, oyster)

AQIS http://www.aqis.gov.au/ quarantine regulations. Cultures and/or spawn of certain varieties listed on table 1 of the website may be imported from overseas on agar plates, vials, test tubes, straw, sawdust, wood plugs or grain carriers. An import permit is required (fee applies but it is valid for at least a year and can be used for multiple consignments) and each consignment should have a manufacturers declaration enclosed.

Medicinal Mushrooms


Impossible with half an hour on this topic in April mushroom hunting talk to list all the exciting things I’ve found. Here’s a smattering of what was and wasn’t covered and some links so you can do your own research.
I highly reccommend starting with this excellent discussion of medicinal mushrooms including Lion’s mane by Jon Seleen. 36 min

Hedgehog or sweet tooth fungus
I didn’t mention the destinctive hedgehog mushroom – hydnum repandum, also cutely named sweetooth.
Apparently very tasty and grows in the wetter native forests in Australia – Eucalyptus and Nothofagus. I can find photos taken at Bastion Cascades, Tas and in victorian locations incl. Sherbrooke forest. According to medicinal mushrooms(a succinct, well referenced amateur website by Robert Sasata) the compound repandiol isolated from it in 1992 in japan, kills a variety of tumour cell lines including colon cancers.

A number of people asked at the meeting about which of the medicinal Mushrooms I mentioned are also native to Australia. In addition to (Tremella fuciformis the jelly fungus, and Trametes versicolor, the turkey tail mushroom) we have a species of Grifola frondosa – hen of the woods, Hydnum repandum – the sweetooth or hedgehog mushroom, hericeum coralloides (= h. clathroides)  which is in the Lion’s mane family in eastern Australia including Tasmania, as well as a mention of hericeum erinaceus  – Lions Mane proper, in the Ottways, Victoria. Hericeum sp. are noted to stimulate production of nerve growth factor and may help regenerate nerves and aid myelination – useful for neuropathy, MS and dementia. http://mushrooms4health.com/hericium-the-nerve-regenerators/

Most of these I have seen in July while walking at Liffey Falls. They are all good eating except for turkey tail which is a woody polypore so purely medicinal like reishi and chaga.

Maitake (hen of the woods) mushrooms ( Grifola frondosa ) in particular has a very high profile in terms of anti tumour potential: Dr. Warwick Gill PhD from UTAS, who also oversees the production of Glen Huon Mushrooms which supply our supermarkets, has been doing research into the native grifola sp. as well as commercialising other medicinal and gourmet mushrooms not yet grown in Australia. There is a possibility it contains more or less or even different compounds as it grows on different wood (eucalypt). Also as it has not had the long history of eating or medicinal use and we simply can’t buy them here anyway, I ordered the maitake for the meeting from floridaherbhouse.com Sounded yummy but proved to be from China, rather than wild crafted from the USA and obviously not as tasty as the fresh unfortunately. However no trouble to add to one’s normal diet unless you are allergic to mushrooms/moulds. They add a richness to a cooked dish – I especially like it boiled and steeped in reishi tea for 15 mins then added to a bolognaise.
A cancer story Amelie has been given a big bag of dried maitake every year since her diagnosis of a brain tumour in 2004. It was considered untreatable by conventional medicine. The website owner wrote back to me to say that Amelia is expecting a baby soon 🙂 Although grade 2 astrocytomas can be very indolent Amelie’s tumour was in a bad spot tucked deep at the brain. I’m not sure what prognosis she was originally given, or what other therapies she is doing but the tumour isn’t growing and eating a bit of mushroom is obviously not a hard option.

Unfortunately funds for researching farming the michorizzal Matsutake (red pine) mushroom so beloved of the Japanese forests, ran out before Mr Gill achieved success in log cultivation. We did not find the dried north american matsutake worth the effort. If you would like to visit Glen Huon Mushrooms south of Hobart you can pre-arrange a farm tour on weekdays except friday (the farm sales and visitor centre is open though) – the shiitake and other mushrooms available are just so fresh and yummy, and according to research I have read, effective tumour preventors when just taken regularly as food rather than as a special supplement. Tassie tourism has put together a ‘Huon Trail’ which features various primary producers in the area.
850 Glen Huon Road Glen Huon TAS 7109
Phone: 03 6266 6333

More Useful Links:
the Huffington post discusses radiation contamination of wildboars and mushrooms in Europe The chaga mushroom teabags I sourced from Chaga Mountain in North America – not Russia, its cultural home because of the fallout from Chernobyl. With the radiation released through Fukushima contamination of wild mushrooms in the pacific NW may become an issue.

Paul Stamets is a noted mycologist who has done several TED talks and a TEDMED talk on youtube about his work with medicinal mushrooms which helped his 84 yo mum  treat stage 4 breast cancer using turkey tail, herceptin and taxol.
His website is fungi.com
Lions mane and other mushroom extracts mentioned by John Seleen and Paul Stamets can be bought easily and cheaply from iherb.com Very reliable vendor (use promocode for VAZ829 for $5 discount and to support this website).

Christoper Hobbs – includes recipes eg. Wei Qi Soup for Building Immune Strength

Dr Nanba’s Maitake research please be aware Dr. Nanba in addition to researching also sells the stuff

back to mushroom meeting

More Mushroom Mistakes


not A. xerodermusHere’s one from a book noted for a few pictorial errors ( even experts have the occasional oops) a toxic mushroom agaricus xanthodermus .

Mushrooms and Toadstools of Australia. Shepherd, CJ & Totterdall, CJ. Inkata Press, Melbourne & Sydney, 1988

A short introductory section on fungi in general is followed by the identification keys and species descriptions. There are numerous colour photographs, though a number of these are misidentified.

I wonder if he labelled this picture incorrectly? the ring looks single and the top has a bump in it ( umbonate).

It actually looks more like this – double ring, almost cube shaped when young, flat or with a dent ( not a bump ) in the top and nice pink to chocolate brown gills just like a field mushroom except you will notice it developing very bright yellow staining on any damaged bits – especially the base of the stalk if you cut it (and according to the books a nasty smell of phenol esp. when cooked ) Just to confuse you more some edibles can stain a bit yellow – so ‘when in doubt leave it out’)

A very common mushroom mistake in australia is picking agaricus xanthodermus, the “yellow stainer” instead of a tasty field mushroom . In urban areas it is more common than the edible species.
There were quite a few mushroom myths debunked at the Fungimap Debate  ( including the myth that it is foolhardy to go mushroom hunting 🙂  Several people have told me how to identify an edible mushroom but never completely by telling me ALL the features to look for AND mentioning all possible confusables – “if the cap peels easily, if the gills are brown, if it smells pleasant and mushroomy or grows on wood it is safe to eat.” None of these guarantee edibility as a single criterion – some poisonous mushrooms also smell yummy and the bit about growing on wood is downright wrong as the Deadly Galerina is a woodrotter. You must be aware of look-a-likes in your area for any species you intend to eat.  Not even the guide books I have consulted mention them all. Here’s a really good rundown of some of the local confusables for field mushrooms by Morrie – Hebeloma ( poison pie mushroom – no ring on stem)

Psathyrella sp. (thin hollow stem) and Cortinarius sp, ( orange, rusty spore print). Do your own research. Check for Australian data. Don’t skip the spore print. (it may only take a half hour to get some off a chunk of a mature mushroom as you drive home from your foray if you bring a good sized tupperware box and the paper along)

Tasmanian Fungi Experts – contact mycologists at UTAS

Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne fungi identification services

Amanita Phalloides in Australia – Death Cap information

In a poisoning emergency phone
13 11 26
24 hours a day, 7 days a week,
Australia wide

Poisoning by Amanita phalloides (“deathcap”) mushrooms in the Australian Capital Territory – 7 poisoning case studies and an interesting discussion

Detailed treatment information for amatoxin poisoning for those who want to really know the gory details.

Personally I’m not impressed with their reasons given for not using thiotic acid (alpha lipoic acid). Surely the biggest mushroom mistake when you have no other options is to not try the ‘unproven’ one? The literature citing success in several human cases is not going away just because it doesn’t work experimentally in mouse and dog models, and it’s neither expensive nor difficult to administer or even particularly toxic in its own right.
Berkson B. Thioctic acid in treatment of hepatotoxic mushroom poisoning. New England Journal of Medicine. 1979;300:371.
http://www.amazon.com/Alpha-Lipoic-Acid-Breakthrough-Antioxidant/dp/0761514570 Dr Berkson’s book on the subject

back to: mushroom mistakes

Mushroom mistakes


Now just a word about wandering off with a guide book or a few pages printed off the internet to get some mushrooms. There was a lady poisoned after eating a nice meal of saffron milkcaps at her friends house because she was told something like they were the orange ones growing under the pines up the road. So she picked what she thought was the tasty ones and got this mushroom by accident. You probably know this common poisonous mushroom, the cute little fly agaric – amanita muscari and are wondering how on earth….

amanita muscariI photographed it in Ulverstone right next to its older siblings which are bleached by the sun to a nice saffron orange. To top off the disguise note the ‘spots’ which are the warty remains of the universal veil around the baby mushroom, can wash off in the rain!

amanita muscari

amanita muscari - with leaf
amanita muscari - leaf print

If you turn it over the gills are still white and there is no orange milk exuded when you cut the stem.

parasol mushroom

Tim, who also attended Trevor’s talk, confidently identified this specimen brought along by Rowena from her garden as a delicious edible parasol mushroom – Macrolepiota procera which has a “distinctive, double-edged ring, that slides freely up and down the stem.” But before you race out and look for a meal of these be aware they are NOT  a beginners mushroom. Tim is confident only because he has seen hundreds and lepiotas contain many poisonous species. It is easily confused with its evil doppelganger the green spored Chlorophyllum molybdites and so causes the most mushroom poisonings every year ( thankfully not fatal) as I learned at the Fungimap debate. Unfortunately even microscopic examination may not separate the two although molybdites usually has a grey or green spore cast while the parasol mushroom’s is white. “often the spores take a while to mature and may even appear to be white as in Lepiota! There was a poisoning some years back in which a famous mycologist searched the entire fruiting body that had poisoned someone and could only find *one* green spore.” Also there are white spored look-a-likes like the shaggy parasol confusingly listed as a choice edible although causing gastric upset to some people and others eat them without a problem!

20120517-171536.jpgThis one I found growing in the leaf litter by the roadside. Now is it a parasol mushroom or one of the poisonous look-a-likes? The ring is neither double nor moveable and it is more dainty in size – so I suspect from looking up Mushrooms and toadstools of Australia ( *see caveat below ) it is the ‘mildly poisonous’ Lepiota Cristata which has a very distinct spiky spore and is known to occur in australia.

UPDATE: probably not cristata – – I’ve seen pictures and they are too small. Anyway finally found a nice parasol with some guidance when we went out hunting again at Oldina and ate it after checking the spore print (dusted in seasoned flour and fried in butter, wonderful flavour – thanks to this book  (good field notes though not written for australia and very incomplete in terms of poisonous lookalikes, great pictures and awesome recipes Dont’ rely on it as a field guide! see more mushroom mistakes )