You might be feeling like you’re stuck at home right now, so I thought it would be fun to try and take you on a little adventure, and to visit some really unique and interesting mushroom farms in South East China, all from the comfort of your own home.
Now, I don’t really have enough footage from these farms to do a whole video on each one, so instead, I want to show you just some quick clips and insights on how different medicinal and gourmet mushrooms can be grown on a commercial scale using various “low tech” methods.
Reishi (Ganoderma Lucidum)
The first farm we are going to visit is a log grown Reishi farm.
Now Reishi is a popular medicinal mushroom, which is unique in the fact that the beneficial compounds can be derived from both the fruiting bodies and from the spores.
Reishi is one of those oddball mushrooms that really does like hot weather, and inside of those shadehouses and greenhouses was just absolutely perfect. It was really, really hot, but at the same time, really humid- which is just ideal for growing Reishi.
It seems like a really low tech method, basically just burying inoculated Reishi logs underground, but in reality, those parameters are just absolutely perfect and would be really difficult to try and replicate with a higher tech indoor grow.
So, now, let’s go to a second reishi farm, where they were growing the same species, but using a slightly different method to collect the spores.
There’s always different ways to do things and it is pretty neat to see the different solutions that these generational farmers come up with to produce their mushrooms.
And it was totally crazy to see how many spores can actually be produced by the reishi mushroom. In nature, you don’t really see it of course, because they are just dispersed into the air, but each one of those fruiting bodies has the potential to release billions of tiny little spores every single day.
Once these spores are collected, they are processed by running them through ultra fine mills to crack them open making the beneficial compounds bio-available. This is why you might have heard of the term “Cracked” reishi spores in the context of medicinal mushrooms.
Tremella is considered both a culinary and a medicinal mushroom. Medicinally, it is used as a powdered extract for anti-aging, brain health and skin health, but is also used in soups, and even in drinks. For example, check out this bottled beverage that has that has a tremella mushroom floating around inside of it. Although I personally like tremella a lot, it has a jelly texture that is not for everybody.
Now let’s check out another mushroom farm, and this is one you might not have heard of before.
It’s called the bamboo fungus, also known as “veiled lady” and has a very unique style in which it grows.
It starts off as a round goo-filled egg, in which a mushroom eventually bursts through middle, grows straight up, and eventually drops a net or a veil.
And what was really cool about this one was that we took a bag of these bamboo fungus “eggs” with us and the next morning we were driving around and noticed that the mushrooms had all fruited inside the bag.
The net is the part that is actually used for culinary purposes almost always in soups. It is really just a texture thing, and in my opinion it is really not all that great.
To me it almost has a soapy flavour. But of course, it still is quite popular which is why they grow lots and lots of this mushroom. And the time I was there, in the middle of the summer, was the perfect time for this mushroom, and there was a ton of it around.
Now right after visiting the bamboo fungus farm I hitched a ride to an Agaricus blazei farm, which was a super cool experience.
Agaricus blazei is another one of those mushrooms that is used for both culinary and medicinal purposes, and being an agaricus mushroom, it grows very similar to how you would grow agaricus bisporus which is the latin name for the common button mushroom that we are all so familiar with.
The mushrooms were growing on “reed” or basically some type of straw, and then covered with what is called a casing layer.
That casing layer is used to protect the underlying mycelium and help the mushrooms fruit, which again is a very similar process to how we grow the common button mushroom in North America.
Now as far as I know it is pretty rare to actually see fresh agaricus blazei anywhere, but we did get the chance to take some with us and eat them and they were totally outstanding, one of the better mushrooms that I have ever had the chance to enjoy in a meal.
Last but not least we are going to head to a Termitomyces farm, which is one of the cooler mushrooms I have ever seen, because it has a totally unique feature that you would never know existed unless you saw it being harvested.
As far as I know, termitomyces is not cultivated in North America, but in China it is now relatively common to see at restaurants, where it is often found in hot pots, where you get big piles of mushrooms and then cook them yourself in a broth.
It is a great experience and a neat way to try all sorts of mushrooms.
Also at this farm, they were growing Piopinno mushrooms, which is commonly grown in north america, but the way they were doing it there was pretty cool and allowed them to process the mushrooms for sale by drying using the substrate blocks as fuel.