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Habemus Fungus

We grew these!
At home.
In a cardboard box.

Yes, that’s right, these delightful portobellos popped up as little brown buttons a few days ago and quickly er…… mushroomed to these large beauties in a couple of days.

I ordered the mushroom kit as a Christmas gift to my husband and another one for my father. There were quite a few companies selling the kits via the internet, but I ordered mine from a company in California. Email me if you want specifics.

I got the mushroom gift idea when we were traveling through the Italian Abruzzo countryside last fall. There we were on a country road, tootling along (is that a word?) when I see a sign with an arrow that says “Fungaia” (mushroom growing place).

“Stop the car,” I shout. “Let’s go find the mushrooms.” Always up for a new eating or gardening discovery, my husband quickly turns the car around. We end up a few minutes later at the fungaia – a quanset hut with a sign out front instructing visitors to ring the bell for assistance. Which we did. A few minutes later, a very handsome young Italian man appears to show us inside – a vast space filled with what look like bales of hay and two different types of mushrooms sprouting all over them. After a tour of the fungaia and a brief stop at the shop next door, we leave with a basketful of fresh oyster mushrooms (pleurotis), and a jar of mushrooms preserved in olive oil to take back to the U.S. Worth the detour, wouldn’t you say?

So back to the kit… A few days after Christmas my husband followed the easy directions that came with the box. Only a few simple instructions and we were off and waiting. We would have had our first crop earlier, if only we hadn’t initially stored the box in a place that was a little too cool.

Fast forward a few days to the dining room – a warmer climate than the guest room – when the little buttons appeared. A few days later and we were ready to harvest our first crop. Which is just what I did earlier this week. The mushrooms are supposed to keep producing with two very large crops and then a tapering off to smaller harvests. When all the nutrients are exhausted, the fungi stop doing their thing and go to mushroom heaven, or a compost pit in our case.

In the meantime, I’m going to have fun turning these into some delightful eats. Look for a recipe to follow. That is, if you can peel your eyes off this good-looking Italian dude who works at the fungaia.

This Post Has 8 Comments
  1. Fascinating post Linda! What a great idea.Could you supply your source please? I enjoy hydroponic gardening in winter months. I’d love to try this too! Your resulting mushroom pasta dish looks delicioso!

  2. Sorry… what did you say? I was busy checking out the hot Italian dude!!

    Oh… mushrooms right!!

    I’ve been wanting to grow Shitakes for a while now… I think I should look into it further!

  3. OMG would you have the exact address? Or at least the nearest town? I know that I’ll be googling until I find one near me. Wonderful post, and yes, he is a hottie!

  4. Rowena:Here’s the exact address and photo number of the fungaia:
    Azienda Agricola Lucchitti Maria Gabriella
    Farming and Transformation of Mushrooms and Vegetables
    Via Forconi, 15
    66010 CIVITELLA MESSER RAIMONDO (CH)
    Tel (+39) 0872 984134

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