Updated: May 12, 2022
Hello! Hola! I can't start the blog without asking how you are, as it is so important in these funny times we live, so, how are you? I do hope you are well.
I meant to write this blog in autumn. I know autumn has come and gone. If you look at the date I'm writing this, we are in March. Days are getting longer and we have had 2 days of sunshine. Horaaayyyy! The reason why I wanted to write this in autumn is because it's about mushrooms and the time to collect them is in autumn, as you all probably already know.
When I lived in Galicia, Spain, I used to go out to the countryside and collect mushrooms. I was lucky because I knew a few people that could recognise them and I learnt a couple of species that I could pick when I was out on walks with my dog. It was so much fun and so exciting when I did find some. It is hard to explain how completely thrilling it can be, as they are not easy to find. Local people will know where they grow, go back each year and keep it a secret, specially if they are rare and especially tasty.
This year I was feeling specially nostalgic, as I haven't been able to go to Spain for two years, and I asked my friend Alberto if he would mind writing a blog about mushrooms. He very kindly agreed to do so and went out on an expedition to a village near Cuenca, where his wife's family are from. You can read what he wrote by clicking here . He talks about his day out picking mushrooms, the ancient tradition of doing so, different types of mushrooms. Here are some great photos. I recommend you read it.
Anyway, after reading his blog and looking at his photos I started reminiscing and decided to try out something I had heard of: Growing mushrooms at home using coffee grounds. Yes! I did some research online and thought it would be a great activity for the family. So I decided to share it with you and took some photos of the process.
ACTIVITY: I think growing mushrooms at home would be a great activity to do at home with your children or at school if you are a teacher. If your children are learning Spanish you could talk to them about how common it is to go out mushroom hunting, how it is traditional and popular to do so and you could cook a simple Spanish recipe using the mushrooms. Watching the mushrooms grow is also amazing.
Growing the mushrooms
I wasn't too sure how to grow the mushrooms so I asked my friend Google. I found a few videos on how to do it, they explained where to buy the different bits and bobs you needed, some were more complicated others less. Mmmm, what to do?
Because time is precious I decided for once to take the easy route. I wrote a letter to Santa and asked him to bring me a mushroom growing kit for the family...and a marvellous thing happened, on Christmas morning there it was. Santa is amazing!
He brought us a kit called Grow Gourmet Mushrooms. The mushrooms grow from recycled coffee grounds and straw. It comes in a cardboard box and on the back it has some simple instructions.
We cut the front flap and inside we found this curious looking bag. As you can see in the photos the content looks white and it has straw amongst it. We had some ooohs and aaaahs and some "not very sure" looks. Still we pressed on and cut the front of plastic bag in an X. Then we soaked it, we weren't sure how much soaking it needed so we put the bag face down on a tray full of water overnight. Since then we have learnt that you need to fully immerse it. After that we placed it on a windowsill in our living room which doesn't get any direct sunlight, as it faces North. We filled a spray bottle with water and sprayed some water twice a day, the truth is that everyone sprayed the mushrooms twice a day, so that was 16 times a day! And here is what happened:
After only a couple of days:
You can see how some tiny mushrooms are starting to come out
The next day the mushrooms were growing really quickly, as you can see in the photo
Just a couple of days later they had grown this much. Thankfully the 16 times a week of spraying was seeming to work.
And once more they grew. We think we might have harvested them a bit too late because they were looking a bit droopy.
We harvested them cutting them with a knife and they actually looked really tasty. I think the whole process took just over a week or two.
And we finally prepared them for cooking. I made up my own recipe mixing the mushrooms with lots of other ingredients but the next batch I shall probably just do something simple so that we can taste the mushrooms. I am normally really busy in the evening with cooking, dinner and bedtime routine so I didn't take a photo of the dish I cooked, oooops!
I have just put the bag to soak again and hopefully we will have a few more batches of mushrooms. It was fascinating to see them grow.
There are lots of different products out there, I would recommend if you are going to give this a go that you go with a reliable company as you don't want to eat anything that might be poisonous or that might harm you. I wouldn't be able to recommend any product and I suggest you do your own research. I have found a great video on YouTube that explains the process really well, you can see the mushrooms growing in a timelapse and it explains everything really well. I have to say that his mushrooms were much bigger than mine. The link is here
Thanks for getting to the end of this blog. I hope you enjoyed it. I have other blogs that might interest you, I write about Spanish traditions and activities for children that are learning Spanish, please click on the link to see them and if you would like to subscribe to my page to receive information on my future activities please click here.
Have a great day