As mentioned in an earlier post in the shiitake series, mushrooms had recently begun emerging from logs we’d innoculated Spring 2017 and we recently set off to shock some logs into fruting all at once (for more info on the initial natural fruiting, see “Shiitake Emerging On Their Own: 1st Harvest from 1st Inoculation, and Next Steps“). In this post I’ll describe what the shiitake shocking process was like, along with the fruits of these labors – hopefully the first of many!
I got a 100gal Rubbermaid stock tank (like a livestock trough) made of structural foam. Debated between that and galvinized steel but was advised by others online that the steel one will get dinged up and eventually rust, whereas the other is extremely rugged and will last a long time. I am wary of using newer synthesized materials with water and food but this seems OK.
The tank was ‘planted’ at my family’s farm ~30 min drive from where I live. It was filled with well water and left overnight Wednesday, August 22, to outgas as that well water smells strongly of hydrogen sulfide when it comes out of the tap. After a night the well water in the tank no longer smelled, and on Thursday, 6 logs along with a bag of ice were dumped in the tank to soak for 24 hours. The logs were then removed that Friday and setup all along one tree on a convenient path for observation.
The logs began fruiting on the following Tuesday, August 28, four nights after coming out of the soak tank. It was extremely exciting seeing all the ‘pins’ – baby fruits – emerge out of the logs! An amazing site. More amazing still was how they looked after 7 nights, a week after being soaked:
We harvested most of the mushrooms off these logs on Friday evening. Thankfully most were ripe and few were damaged. We found the easiest indicator of ripeness to be how firm the fruits were: how did their firmness compare with the ones we’d buy from the store? Glad we started eating more shiitakes from various sources during the ~1.5 year project of working toward growing our own shiitake fruits!
As for damage, the only damage we noticed was a tiny bit lost to slugs (and we saw the slug)! There were chipmunks eyeing the mushrooms and eating other toadstools at my family’s farm, but we didn’t see any distinct damage from them. Here’s a photo of the slug we saw and damaged it had caused. In future shocking we’ll probably setup slug traps or walls (e.g. beer in a cap, circle of saw dust or salt or something).
We also noticed dark brown specks, like particles of dirt, on the gills of the mushrooms. We have seen that on some mushrooms from the store before, but not this many. We probably need to get a mushroom brush to wipe off the dirt if we’re going to bring these to market! Little dirt never hurt anyone though, so for now we’ll cook’em up as is.
We got a good harvest and give much thanks. The mushrooms are very tasty cooked up with butter, and even a raw one was flavorful and not too firm. We prepared some boxes/brown bags (~1 pint sized) we’ll give to volunteers who helped inoculate this batch of logs Spring 2017. Here’s the logs after most mushrooms were harvested (some will remain to ripen and be enjoyed by my family who can grab them fresh on the farm for cooking), and a box ready to be received!