Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Mushrooms from compost

Y'know I've been doing quite a few "outdoorsy" posts of late, which is kinda odd, because we're smack bang in the middle of Winter, Down Under and really any sane person would be inside under a blanket watching movies and eating comfort food.

But the skies have been so clear with the sun warming the cool air, so I've been jumping at the chance too potter around the yard. It does help that I live in a city with very mild winters - where people pull out the woolies when the temperature drops to 22 degrees (thats 71 for those who do things in fahrenheit).

Anywhoo - I digress. Mushrooms. Love 'em. My favourite way of eating them? Nice and simple. Here is the recipe that I always fall back on if I feel like a lazy dinner, or just have a heap of mushrooms to use up!

Mum's mushrooms on toast recipe.

Small bag of mushrooms (or a few handfuls, whatever you've got) - cleaned and sliced
1x clove of garlic - crushed
1x small brown - finely diced
cream / sour cream / cream cheese
toast to serve - fabulous on toasted sourdough bread

1. Put a small knob of butter in a frypan with the onion and garlic, sautee over a low heat until onions start to caramelise
2. Add sliced mushrooms and stir until they are softened and fragrant
3. Add a little bit of cream to create a sauce - add as much as you like, but it honestly only needs enough to hold everything else together.
4. Turn off heat and continue to stir until sauce thickens.

Serve on toast. Yumm!

But hang on.. this post was supposed to be about the garden! ok, let's get to that now.

At almost $10 a kilo, mushrooms aren't cheap, but I had never considered growing them until I saw those 'mushroom farm in a box' ditties that you can buy from nurseries.....  But then I came across mushroom compost.

Do yourself a favour. Google mushroom farms in your local area.

My local mushroom farm sells bags of mushroom compost for $1. The bags are used to actually grow the mushrooms in. As soon as the bags stop growing commerical quantities of mushrooms, they sell them as compost. But talk about your lucky day, those bags still have some mushrooms left in them!

Can you see those teeny little white spots? Baby mushrooms.

Mushrooms like damp, dark spaces, and luckily enough, I have one of those in my back yard where nothing seems to grow. Here's how I created my mushroom patch.

1. gently place all the mushroom compost out on the ground in your chosen area.

2. cover with newspaper or cardboard.

mushroom patch - day one
3. wet cardboard thoroughly.

Mushroom patch close up - day 3

And that's it! Just make sure that the compost stays damp (not too wet) and the mushrooms aren't exposed to the sun (or they'll get burnt and turn brown) and you'll have your own ready supply for your favourite mushroom meal.
Mushroom patch - day 5

Mushroom patch - day 7  

This bowl of mushrooms were collected from the patch on day 7. Certainly enough for two people! Comparing them with mushrooms bought from the grocer, these are much more firm in texture, have only the faintest smell and are a very pale colour inside.

Happy gardening!


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