DIY mushroom grow kits mean you have a never-ending supply.

By Bridget Shirvell
November 09, 2020
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pink oyster mushrooms
Credit: Courtesy of Back to the Roots

You've had a robust windowsill herb garden for years, then planted, tended to, and harvested your victory garden throughout the pandemic; now it's time to grow mushrooms. It's easier than you think—and surprisingly satisfying, all thanks to the rise of mushroom grow kits. "It's the freshest experience you can have," said 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 lattes 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," said Back to the Roots, co-founder and co-CEO Nikhil Arora told MarthaStewart.com. The California-based organic company, one of our American-Made winners, offers a variety of organic oyster mushroom grow kits including pearl oyster mushrooms and pink oyster mushrooms (from $24.99, backtotheroots.com)—use code Martha25 at checkout to take 25 percent off.

"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 said.

Like, Back to the Roots, Smallhold's mushroom grow kits, available in Blue Oyster or Lion's Mane (from $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 initial launch, Smallhold has rapidly expanded, researching and cultivating new specialty mushroom strains. They recently opened a 3,000 square-foot organic mushroom farm and began selling mushroom grow kits for individuals and families at home.

They launched the kits at the beginning of the pandemic when, said Carter, "We realized really quickly that our customers still wanted mushrooms, but the task of getting them to them was complicated, so we wanted to figure out another way to continue to distribute mushrooms, and we've now sold and shipped grow kits to every state."

Part of the appeal of these mushroom grow kits is how incredibly versatile they 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.

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