Shiitakes are a delicious edible that many people love. You can grow your own at home with the help of a shiitake mushroom log. Instructions below:

A shiitake mushroom log is one of the most popular methods for growing shiitakes at home or commercially. This article discusses the methods for developing your own shiitake log, in addition to providing a variety of information on the popular shiitake mushroom. 

To start creating your own shiitake mushroom log, you will need to use plug spawn or sawdust spawn. Check out our available options and learn the method below so you can begin growing your own shiitakes! 

Why eating mushrooms grow from a shiitake mushroom log is growing in popularity

In 2018, 10 million pounds of shiitake were produced in the U.S. Specialty mushrooms are gaining popularity for a variety of reasons. Public desire to decrease red meat consumption and the increase in vegan and vegetarian diets provide a market for alternative protein sources. Specialty mushrooms are a great source of non-meat protein with some species offering 25% protein by dry weight. 

Dried shiitakes generally have about 18% protein content. General increased mushroom consumption in the American diet is a rising tide that lifts all boats. Between 1978 and 2014 United States per capita mushroom consumption rose 1.3 lbs from 2.7 lbs to 4 lbs per year. The awareness of potential health benefits of specialty mushrooms has also created a big increase in interest in mushrooms. Many new supplement companies and products are being developed and sold to cater to this market. Interestingly, by simply incorporating these mushrooms into our diets many of the same benefits can be obtained. 

Shiitake mushroom nutrition information: Vitamin D, amino acids, and immune system health

Shiitake mushrooms contain eight essential amino acids, which are needed to form proteins in our bodies. These essential amino acids are not formed in the body, so it’s necessary to get them through the food we eat.

A 2015 study showed the efficacy of shiitake mushrooms for improving human immunity. The study, entitled Consuming Lentinula edodes (Shiitake) Mushrooms Daily Improves Human Immunity: A Randomized Dietary Intervention in Healthy Young Adults, concludes that shiitake mushroom consumption “resulted in improved immunity, as seen by improved cell proliferation and activation and increased sIgA production.” sIgA is responsible for inhibiting inflammation in mucous membranes and protects immunoglobulin.

Shiitakes are a great source of vitamin D. Interestingly enough, if you expose the shiitake mushrooms to sunlight with the gills up, their vitamin D levels increase significantly. The increased levels of vitamin D have been shown to be more than 1,000 times greater after eight hours of exposure.

That’s why the dried shiitake mushrooms we sell are sun dried for at least eight hours and then finished off in low heat.

The evolution of shiitake cultivation lead to the shiitake mushroom log approach

In the beginning of shiitake cultivation freshly cut logs were placed next to logs producing shiitake mushrooms. The spores produced by the mushrooms hopefully colonized the freshly cut logs before another mushroom colonized the wood. Over time growers developed different methods of introducing spores to freshly cut wood but consistent colonization and fruiting was not achieved until the mid 1900’s. 

In the 1920’s K. Kitayama developed pure culture spawn, allowing mycelium with particular genetic traits to be used instead of spores. In 1943 K. Mori developed the practice of inoculating logs with wooden wedges that had mycelium throughout. Over several decades this evolved to be the drill and plug system that is now in wide use. These developments allowed log cultivation to become more efficient, reliable, and a larger commercial crop. 

One of the great things about shiitake mushroom cultivation is it can happen at both low- and high-tech scales. From backyard woods to large commercial farms shiitakes are now widely cultivated in the United States. 

How to build your own shiitake mushroom log

Log cultivation is best done on hardwood logs like oak, sugar maple, and beech. Other logs will work but will not produce as high of yields. 

It is best to select logs with a diameter between 3” and 8” for this method of cultivation. One-inch deep holes are drilled every 6” and shiitake plug spawn is tapped into the holes with a hammer. 

Then, the log is rotated 2” and holes are again drilled every 6”. It is best to offset the holes so in the end the drilling makes a diamond pattern. Every hole is filled with shiitake plug spawn and then waxed over. The wax ensures the mycelium will not dry out, and that no other fungi will get into the log. 

You can still grow shiitake mushrooms at home, even if you do not want to bother with a shiitake mushroom log

Don’t have any logs to make a shiitake mushroom log with? You can grow your own shiitake mushrooms by purchasing a shiitake mushroom grow kit from us.

Grow kits are easy to use and are very fast to fruit. A grow kit only takes 10 days to fruit but will be spent in about 3 months. The kits we provide offer are easy to use and affordable. The sawdust block is soaked in water for 4-5 hours and then placed outside in the shade or inside with indirect light. The block needs to be sprayed with a hose or misted 2-3 times a day, and the shiitake mushrooms will become ready to harvest within 10 days.

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