Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Fridays with Fungi

Oh man, you guys are going to love this. Though my schedule this quarter is unbearable (it's to the point where I don't know when I'm going to sleep), my Friday afternoon class is one that I don't mind going to, not at all. That's because it is . . .

Edible Mushroom Cultivation!

No, I'm not getting credit towards my master's degree by taking this class. But it's the only one of it's kind in the whole country, so I ask you: how could I resist?

Here are our current projects:

We are using jars of sterilized barley to grow the "spawn" of Pleurotus djamor, the pink oyster mushroom. This basically means that we are allowing the fungus to colonize the grain, and this jar will be the "master jar," providing inoculum for many future bags of mushrooms. This is what the colonized grain looks like:

Pretty sweet. After the master jar is colonized, you can mix the grain in a bag with a sterilized substrate like straw or sawdust, and these bags will eventually fruit to provide you with tasty edible mushrooms.

We inoculated these bags of straw with another Pleurotus species, the yellow oyster mushroom:

Once the fungi has colonized the bag (grown throughout the straw until it is cemented together into a kind of brick), we will move it to a humid incubator, cut slits in the bag, and the mushrooms will fruit out of the slits. I'll post pictures of that when it happens.

We also inoculated bags of sawdust with Shiitake mushroom spawn:

I'll keep you posted on the process, and if anyone wants to know about it in more depth, let me know. I'm going to be trying it myself soon, to see if I can do it at home. Weeeeeeeee!


Nicole said...

Talk about weird science! It is amazing that nature can do this by itself! I commend you for taking advantage of one of the most "Davisy" classes I've ever heard of.

Felicia said...

Well I've kind of got to say thats pretty cool :)