Last night we had a wonderful turn out for a wonderful workshop despite the pouring rain. The Harlan County Ag and Natural Resources Extension Agent, Jeremy Williams, helped us host a Shiitake Mushroom growing workshop. Workshop attendees inoculated around 50 logs to take home! It was a whirlwind, but I definitely enjoyed myself.

Last fall we devoted an entire blog post to the benefits of Shiitakes. So I won’t go into great detail here. But I will give you a few lines about how wonderful they are because I am still fueled by the enthusiasm of last night!

1. Health benefits! According to the place I purchased our spawn from, Shiitakes are 13-18% protein by dry weight, high in the amino acids leucine and lysine (scarce in most grains), and have a significant complement of minerals and vitamins. This is great for everyone, and especially people like me who only eat small amounts of meat and therefore have to pay close attention to their protein intake.
2. More health benefits! Extracts from Shiitakes are used for cancer prevention and alongside chemo and radiation treatments in Japan. Now, I am not saying that these mushrooms are going to keep us safe from cancer, but they are probably doing something for us. Shiitakes have anti-viral and immune boosting properties.
3. They are easy to inoculate and easy to grow! We live in forests full of hard wood trees that can be selectively cut for mushroom production and inoculated simply with a power drill, a hammer, some cheese wax, and purchased spawn. We had multiple children working on the logs last night! I have been purchasing dowel spawn from Mushroompeople in Tennessee with great success.
4. Shiitake spawn is pretty inexpensive and will produce so much food! The logs will produce for up to 5 years! Shiitakes can be picked off the logs and stored in a paper bag in the refrigerator for up to a month or dehydrated easily. I am still eating shiitakes I dried last summer.

I’ll leave you with some photos:

PMSS Environmental Education Intern, Chelsea Gorman, monitoring the wax. In the future I would buy  small, inexpensive crock pot to keep the wax hot. The last two times I’ve inoculated I used a camp stove with pie plates (does not work well).

Tapping in the plugs! Go MacKenzie go!