PHOTO STORY: How to grow shiitake mushrooms

November 5, 2013

Originally from East Asia, shiitake mushrooms (Lentinula edodes) are delicious and healthful. They grow wild throughout the Far East, but have been cultivated in oak logs in Japan for centuries. The technique, which involves inoculating logs with the mushroom, was introduced in Costa Rica in 2009 by the Centro Nacional de Hongos de Buthan. The University of Costa Rica and the National Biodiversity Institute (INBio) organized the project in communities of Cerro de la Muerte in the province of Cartago.

Studies have shown the health benefits of shiitake, including lowering cholesterol, fighting tumors, and helping the body produce interferon – a natural substance that fights cancer and stimulates the immune system. Dried shiitake contains 20 percent protein by weight, along with trace minerals and vitamin B. Shiitake are the second most consumed mushroom in the world, and the third most consumed mushroom in the U.S., after white button and Portobello mushrooms.
You can buy shiitake at the Feria Verde in San José. For more info, visit the Facebook page of Hongos de Costa Rica.

Shiitake Mushrooms 2

To grow shiitake in tropical regions, a facility or barn is helpful to combat predators, plagues and drastic changes in temperature and humidity.


Alberto Font

Shiitake Mushrooms 3

Branches from alder, rainbow eucalyptus and oak trees are cut into logs about a meter in length (6-20 centimeters in diameter) and cleaned of mosses and dirt, without harming the bark.


Alberto Font

Shiitake Mushrooms 4

Within two months of cutting the logs, holes are drilled approximately 10 centimeters from each other in a diamond pattern.


Alberto Font

Shiitake Mushrooms 5

A short period of inoculation follows drilling and involves filling the holes with inoculum (also call spawn).


Alberto Font

Shiitake Mushrooms 6

Hot beeswax or paraffin is brushed over each site to seal the spawn.


Alberto Font

Shiitake Mushrooms 7

The logs are stacked for 6-12 months and monitored. For best results, they should be covered with cypress or pine branches, and the whole stack should be draped in plastic.


Alberto Font

Shiitake Mushrooms 8

More than 60 percent humidity is best for incubation. Is important that logs should never dry out; good air circulation is recommended to prevent molding.


Alberto Font

Shiitake Mushrooms 9

After shiitake has successfully colonized the wood, soak the log in a creek or water tank for 12-36 hours to initiate fruiting.


Alberto Font

Shiitake Mushrooms 10

Logs are then placed upright, at least 40 centimeters from each other, so the fruiting can begin.


Alberto Font

Shiitake Mushrooms 11

Fruiting bodies of shiitake will appear around 10 days after the soaking. The mushrooms should be harvested when a cap is three-quarters of the way open.


Alberto Font

Facebook Comments

You may be interested

A washing machine ocean and a city of sin at the Essential Costa Rica Surf Pro 2018 in Jacó
sports
1017 views
sports
1017 views

A washing machine ocean and a city of sin at the Essential Costa Rica Surf Pro 2018 in Jacó

Manuel Martínez - October 14, 2018

One of the things I like most about surfing is the constant change. You’ll be surfing the best waves of…

A look back at our 5 questions for Costa Rican photographer Ivannia Alvarado
Weekend Arts Spotlight
729 views
Weekend Arts Spotlight
729 views

A look back at our 5 questions for Costa Rican photographer Ivannia Alvarado

Elizabeth Lang - October 14, 2018

Our Weekend Arts Spotlight feature has profiled a lot of artists and gone through several changes throughout the years. One…

Heavy rains hit Costa Rica: two dead, one missing; another tropical wave expected to hit tomorrow, red alerts issued
News
13724 views
News
13724 views

Heavy rains hit Costa Rica: two dead, one missing; another tropical wave expected to hit tomorrow, red alerts issued

Alexander Villegas - October 13, 2018

Two people died and one is missing after a tropical wave and heavy rains swept through Costa Rica late this…