Do You Love Mushrooms? Then You'll Want to Try This Easy Method for Growing Them at Home
If you've had a robust windowsill herb garden for years and are now looking for a new challenge, consider growing your own mushrooms at home. It's easier than you think—and it's a surprisingly satisfying hobby, all thanks to the rise of mushroom grow kits. "It's the freshest experience you can have," says Smallhold CEO and co-founder Andrew Carter.
We're living in a golden age of mushrooms. They have exploded in popularity in the past few years; they're in coffee and chocolate and jerky snacks. Non-alcoholic drink brand Seedlip is even using mushrooms for packaging. And while once hard to find varieties like lion's mane and chanterelle are showing up at grocery stores right alongside button, cremini, and portobello, why buy mushrooms when you can grow your own? Several companies, including Back to the Roots, Smallhold, and even some local mushroom growers, are making it easy to explore the world of fungi at home.
"Mushrooms are such a delicious and nutritious food source. Plus, they are the glue that holds our ecosystem together, so we are excited to help more people discover all the magic of fungi through our kits," says Back to the Roots co-founder and co-CEO Nikhil Arora. The California-based organic company, one of our American Made winners, offers organic pearl oyster mushroom grow kits (from $19.99, backtotheroots.com).
"We love oyster mushrooms because of how fast they grow—from when you start the kit, you'll literally have a massive, beautiful, and tasty batch of oyster mushrooms in just 10 days! So, they are great for everyone, whether you have a green thumb or not! They also take very little space to grow and can grow well year round," Arora says.
Like, Back to the Roots, Smallhold's blue oyster or lion's mane mushroom grow kits ($34, smallhold.com) take up little space and are low maintenance. Basically all that is required is cutting two "X" marks the mushroom block and watering several times a day for a few days. Sprouts should appear within three days and mushrooms a little more than a week later.
Carter and Adam DeMartino launched Smallhold in 2017 as a distributed farming company, and their business began as a mushroom nursery, growing and spreading mushrooms in climate-controlled vertical mini-farms. About the size of a bookcase, the farms get hooked up to a water supply line and thanks to WiFi, Smallhold growers monitor and adjust the growing conditions from afar. Since their launch, Smallhold has rapidly expanded, researching and cultivating new specialty mushroom strains. They opened a 3,000 square-foot organic mushroom farm and are building a network of mini mushroom farms across the country.
Part of the appeal of these mushroom grow kits is how incredibly versatile the mushrooms are to use, especially the oyster mushrooms, which, thanks to their texture and taste, are easy to use as a replacement for meat. Try them in omelets, risotto, add them to a vegetarian stew, sauté them for a toast topper, and use them as meat alternative in tacos.