We’ve been growing shiitake mushrooms on logs for over 10 years, and it’s certainly a labour of love. Growing mushrooms on logs is fairly labour intensive because of the amount of handling required when fruiting the logs. In the end, what makes all the labour worthwhile is the quality of the mushrooms. Grown on hardwood logs and touched by dappled sunlight, the flavours are much deeper than shiitake mushrooms grown indoors on sawdust blocks.
Outdoor cultivation is a more sustainable way to grow mushrooms because it doesn’t require energy intensive indoor infrastructure. To extend the outdoor growing season as much as possible, we use cold weather strains to get the season started earlier in April and then again to extend the growing season into November. Through the hot summer months, we use warm weather strains that love the heat and humidity of our southern Ontario summers. We also use wide range strains that grow well in the fluctuating transitional seasons. Once the weather gets too cold for fresh mushrooms, we sell mushrooms that have been dried over the summer.
Nutritional Value and Medicinal Uses
One of the most well known medicinal foods, shiitake mushrooms have protein contents ranging from 16-22 percent (dry weight) depending on the strain and growing conditions, setting them among the most protein-rich of all cultivated mushrooms. They contain nearly all the essential amino acids, making this as close to a ‘complete protein’ as meat. Studies have also found that these mushrooms can help boost and modulate immune system function, regulate blood pressure and sugar levels, lower cholesterol, and provide cardiovascular and digestive support. They contain antiviral and antibacterial properties as well as anti-inflammatory compounds, and they also have been shown to suppress many cancer cell lines.
(From "Organic Mushroom Farming and Mycoremediation" by Tradd Cotter.)
Fresh shiitake are available from April to Oct. The fresh shiitake can be stored easily in a paper bag in your fridge for 3 weeks.
Dried shiitake are available from fall to spring. Before putting them in the dehydrator, we first expose them to 45 minutes of direct sunlight, which vastly increases the vitamin D content, making them a winter superfood.
Using dried shiitake in the kitchen is easy:
Method 1: To reconstitute, just pour boiling water over the mushrooms, let sit for 20 minutes, drain and then use them as you would fresh mushrooms. Be sure to save the liquid for making sauces or broths, or use as your cooking liquid for rice and other grains.
Method 2: To reconstitute, put the dried mushrooms directly into soups and stews, making sure there is enough cooking liquid for the mushrooms to absorb.
One bag has 2 ounces of dried mushrooms, which will reconstitute to equal about 1 pound fresh.