I grew my first Shiitake mushrooms at home
written by @MrZimm
Shiitake mushroom growing guide for beginners
Hey Shroomok Community, @mrzimm here!
I'd like to share my first experience with shiitake cultivation. Just repeat my way, improve some steps and grow magnificent mushrooms at home
Shroomok' note: @mrzimm is a Tech Guru, moderator of shroomok growers community and extremely humble mushroom growing veteran. You can find a a few tech guides by @mrzimm in the section: DIY equipment & Teks
Why I decided to grow shiitake mushrooms
I'm into mushroom growing both: actives and gourmet. My cultivation journey started 4 years ago with Psilocybe Cubensis Golden Teacher.
Then I played with different strains and different techniques. For example, here you can find my magic truffles Psilocybe Tampanensis grow report
At some point, I wanted to go further and try something new:
How about growing edible mushrooms?
I chose between 2 species, oysters (Pleurotus ostreatus) and shiitake (Lentinula edodes) - the easiest mushrooms to cultivate (according to majority of growers). So I started with both. How I was surprised when first oysters attempt failed (I'll share this story somehow)
Fortunately, Shiitakes were kind enough :-)
I'm going to share my very first experience of Shiitake cultivation from scratch
Also I'll show you my latest shiitake mushrooms that were grown in the basement
Let's get started
Facts about shiitake mushrooms useful to know
🔸 The shiitake or shitake, scientific name is Lentinula edodes is one of the most popular gourmet mushroom native to East Asia (Japan, Korea, China). It is considered a medicinal mushroom in some forms of traditional medicine.
🔸 It is woodland mushroom that decompose hardwood in nature. That's why commonly called 'sawtooth oak mushroom', 'black forest mushroom', 'black mushroom', 'golden oak mushroom', or 'oakwood mushroom'.
🔸 Scientific classification
- Kingdom: Fungi
- Division: Basidiomycota
- Class: Agaricomycetes
- Order: Agaricales
- Family: Omphalotaceae
- Genus: Lentinula
- Species: L. edodes (in latin 'edodes' means 'edible')
🔸 The first written record of shiitake cultivation can be traced to Wu Sang Kwuang who was born in China (A.D. 960–1127).
🔸 Many cultivation techniques and experiments were made with shiitake mushrooms. Some of them were brought to magic mushrooms cultivation, e.g. stress factors for mushroom fruiting like cold shocking for fruiting stimulation. Details: All you need to know about cold shock
🔸 Growing shiitake on logs was developed in Japan and China over a thousand years ago. However growing indoor (sawdust mushroom blocks tek is commonly used today) developed in the past century.
🔸 Rich aroma makes this mushroom unforgettable. When Shiitake are stir-fried, the rich aroma causes the olfactory senses to dance. You'll definitely remember this smell and taste! That's why one more name for shiitake in China Shiang Ku or 'Fragrant Mushroom.
🔸 Grain spawn (mycelium) has a smell similar to crushed fresh shiitake mushrooms.
🔸 For the first time shiitake mycelium is totally white. In age, or as a response to damage, turns totally dark brown. This is a distinctive feature of shiitake cultivation that easy to confuse with contamination
🔸 Overall shiitake growing cycle lasts about 8-12 weeks:
- grain colonization - 3-4 weeks
- bulk colonization - 3-4 weeks
- pinning - 1-2 weeks
- first flush of fruiting - 1 week
- 2nd and 3rd flushes after rehydration - 2-3 weeks
Step by step shiitake cultivation guide
Step 1. How to prepare grain substrate for shiitake spawn
I use whole oats (unhulled grain!) as a grain substrate for shiitake spawn
Rinse it well few times. Soak for 24 hours. Simmer for 10-15 mins. Drain and let it dry for 20-30 mins in a strainer. Ready!
I don't dry grain on the towel!
You can also use rye, barley, wheat berries, millet, sorghum etc for shiitake and for a wide variety of other mushroom species.
🟠 Check out full guide: How to prepare grain substrate
Grain options on Amazon for DIY substrate:
Hard Red Winter Wheat Berries, 3 lbs - $13.95
Organic Rye Berries, 5 lbs $21.95
If you want to skip first 3 preparation steps use sterile grain substrate. This way helps to save your time and money for purchasing all components and pressure cooker. It's really good approach for the first attempts in mushroom cultivation:
Step 2. Jars and lids for grain substrate
Fill your jars (glass jars or 5PP jars) with ready grain substrate, no more than 2/3 or 3/4 of the volume.
Close the jars with modified lids. Modified lids have inoculation port and air filter for gar exchange.
Autoclavable polypropylene (5PP) grow bags with air filter and inoculation port for grain substrate great to use as well!
🟠 Different options in full guide: DIY Jars and Bags for mushroom spawn
Stuff to buy on Amazon:
High Temperature RTV Silicone $6.88 - to seal/make injection port
💡 All these components are reusable!
Step 3. Grain substrate sterilization for shiitake growing
Cover the lid with foil before sterilization in pressure cooker or autoclave. Fill the PC with water (1/2 of jars level). Sterilize jars in pressure cooker/ autoclave/ instant pot for 90-120 mins at 15 psi (120°C or 250°F)
💡Usually I make sterilization twice with 24-48 hours break. It's not a rule, just my recommendation, especially if you are not sure about exact pressure in your PC or if you use instant pot
🟠 Full guide, sterilization time & temperature, how to sterilize w/o PC: Substrate sterilization
Stuff to buy on Amazon:
Presto Pressure Cooker, 23 Qt $124.99
Step 4. Inoculation
Usually I inoculate grain substrate with LC (liquid culture) in syringe through inoculation port in jar (1-2 ml per jar).
This time I used Grain to Grain transfer as an inoculation method, because I bought a small sample of ready grain spawn. I could skip all previous steps, however I needed to multiply my mycelium at least in 3-5 times for making good blocks and to save shiitake mycelium for my long term hobby.
🟠 Recommended guide: Grain to Grain transfer
I just break and shake ready spawn and share it among my new jars with sterile oats substrate. To do this I have to open each jar. That's why sterility is highly recommended here! Use gloves, wipe all tools, jars, table with iso alcohol. SAB (still air box) or Laminar Flow Hood for inoculation is optional, but would be great to use
🟠 Recommended guide: How I built my first Laminar Flow Hood for home mycology for $99.86
🟠 Recommended guide: DIY Still Air Box
Shake each jar to spread spawn in the grain substrate.
Here you can see mycelium in jars right after G2G transfer and shaking jars
As a result small sample of grain spawn was shared among 4 jars with sterile oats.
💡 You can also put some samples of spawn on agar, so that multiply mycelium on agar. Play with different options!
Stuff to buy on Amazon:
Step 5. Grain colonization period
After inoculation (Grain to Grain transfer in my case) I placed jars in incubation chamber.
Dry dark place with constant temperature 78-82°F or +26..28°C
🟠 Check out my setup: Automated incubation chamber for mushrooms with temperature control
Wait at least 3-4 weeks for full colonization, usually up to 30 days.
Here is a spawn jar after 26-28 days after inoculation
❗️ Beige, yellowish or brown mycelium is totally normal for shiitake. Don't get it confused with contamination!
Such jar is fully colonized and ready for the next step
Step 6. Sawdust substrate recipe for shiitake fruiting
Now we need to prepare fruiting (aka bulk) substrate and then mix it with grain spawn (aka spawn to bulk process)
As you know, shiitake mushroom is a wood lover species, that's why the base for fruiting substrate is harwood sawdust.
Hardwood sawdust, especially oak, alder, cottonwood, poplar, ash, elm, sweetgum, beech, birch, and similar woods are the best. Fresh sawdust is obviously better than aged. Sawdust with dark zones (often a sign of mold contamination) should be avoided. Don't use furniture sawdust, pine trees, eucalyptus and similar sawdust!
My recipe for shiitake bulk substrate is following. Mix all dry ingredients together:
🔸 Hardwood Sawdust - 4 parts (20 cups)
🔸 Hardwood chips or shavings - 2 parts (10 cups) or just use sawdust instead
🔸 Sawdust pellets - 2 parts (10 cups) or just use sawdust instead
🔸 Sunflower hulls or cottonseed hulls - 1 part (5 cups). I also added buckwheat husks and sunflower hulls 50/50.
🔸 Bran (rye, wheat, corn, oat, and soybean) is commonly used as a nitrogen-rich supplement - 20% of the total dry mass = about 1 part (4-5 cups).
🔸 Gypsum (calcium sulfate) is beneficial for any bulk substrate - 1/8-1/4 cup
Water balance or field capacity:
Water is added to dry mix until 65–75% moisture is achieved, a few percentage points below saturation. Here we use the popular moisture test.
Grab a handful of the substrate mixture and squeeze it in your hand.
⛔️ If you are unable to squeeze out any water, it is too dry (add more water).
⛔️ If a light squeeze causes a stream of water to come out, it’s too wet (add more sawdust).
✅ You want to be able to squeeze the mixture as hard as you can, and only have a few steady drops come out to have a field capacity moisture level. This is perfect!
Fill grow bags with ready substrate from 3 to 6 lbs or 1,5-2,5 kg.
Use autoclavable polypropylene grow bags (medium or large size). You don't need injection port here right now.
Seal your bags and they are ready for sterilization in pressure cooker, instant pot or autoclave for 2 hours at 15 psi (120°C or 250°F)
Pasteurization at 190–194°F (88–90°C) for at least 14-16 hours at atmospheric pressure (1 psi) also reduce mold contaminations in the substrate. I prefer sterilization
Sterile grow bags are ready for the next step!
Ingredients for DIY sawdust substrate on Amazon:
Mixed Hardwood SAWDUST, 6 lb $34.89
Hardwood Pellets, 20 lb $8.99
Gypsum Calcium Sulfate, 2 lb $15.99
Gypsum Calcium Sulfate, 5 lb $21.38
Oat Bran, 2 lb $12.90
Wheat Bran, 2 lb $12.99
Sterilized Hardwood Sawdust (Oak) Substrate with Bran in Grow Bag $25.95 - if you want to skip this step use ready-made sterile substrate
Step 7. Make shiitake mushroom block
Now you have grain spawn in jar and sterile sawdust substrate in grow bag.
❗️Be sure your grow bags cool down to 86F or 30C before spawn to bulk. 100F or 38C can destroy mycelium
Wear gloves, wipe all tools, table, jars, bags, hands with iso alcohol.
Open the bag. Open the spawn jar. Add spawn to sawdust substrate in bag. My ration of spawn to bulk was 1:10.
Seal the bag!
Here is a bag with sawdust substrate and oats spawn on top. The bag was sealed right after the transfer. I used sealer machine for this purpose (find it in the list to buy below)
Shake the bag to spread mycelium throughout the substrate to have even mycelium colonization
Ready! Wait for full colonization!
Useful stuff to this section on Amazon:
Automatic Electric Sealing Machine for Mushroom Bags, 12 Inch $26.81 - exactly what I use
Automatic Food Sealer with Multi-function $32.19 - Moist Mode here great for sealing wet bags
Impulse Aluminum Heat Sealing Machine, 12 inch $78.04 - good quality for long-term hobby
Digital Laser Thermometer, Adjustable Emissivity, Temp Alarm $19.58 - to check the temp of the bag
Infrared Digital Laser Temperature Gun $25.99 - to check the temp of the bag
Step 8. Shiitake block colonization period
For bulk colonization I moved mushroom blocks in incubation chamber again.
Dry dark place with constant temperature 77°F or +25°C. Room temperature 68-75°F or 20-24°С is also good for colonization period.
It takes about 3-4 weeks for full colonization
While mycelium run older mycelium turn dark brown color. Don't worry, this is normal for shiitake
Mushroom block fully colonized!
Remove block from the bag. Just cut the bag around the block with scissors. Leave the piece of bag at the bottom
Mushroom block ready for fruiting conditions in fruiting chamber (GrowBox or Growing Tent)
❗️If you notice pins or small shrooms that were formed in bag during colonization period, they usually stop further development. If so it's mushroom aborts
Step 9. Shiitake fruiting conditions and fruiting period
Move mushroom block in fruiting chamber. I used the same GrowBox as for my magic mushrooms growing.
🟠 Check out full guide: DIY Grow Box for mushroom growing
If you have MonoTub, also works!
🟠 Check out full guide: DIY MonoTub for mushroom growing
It takes about 2 weeks for pinning after providing fruiting conditions + 1 week for mushrooms growth (first flush of fruiting).
At this point your mushroom blocks stop mycelium development and seems like no changes at all for the next 7-14 days. Be patient, just wait!
My fruiting conditions are following:
🌡 temperature - 68-72°F or +20..22°C (lower temperature is also good, but not higher!)
💧 relative humidity - 90-99%. Use fogger or spray bottle for manual misting
💨 fresh air exchange (FAE) - CO2 should be <1000 ppm. I have air vents in growbox and from time to time use simple air pump for additional FAE
💡 light - 12 hours on/off cycle. I use the same lamps as for other mushrooms Mushroom block turns from white to dark brown with time (one week after):
Let it become totally dark brown. It takes up to 2 weeks. After that pinning started. You can see small white pins on this block:
Brown shiitake block (another one) and snow-white cubensis block in one GrowBox. Here you can see the jar with water in the corner, the hose of air pump placed in this jar, so that fresh air filtered through the water. Humidity/temperature sensor (on the wall of the tub). Air vents at the bottom covered with synthetic filters outside.
Let's check shiitake fruiting in dynamic day by day. Start of primordia development, 42 days after providing fruiting conditions:
Mushroom fruit bodies development
Active mushroom growth
Hooray! My first shiitake mushrooms
Time for harvesting this beauty
Stuff to buy on Amazon:
HOMZ Heavy Duty Containers, 66 Qt, 2 Pack $64.99 - 2 plastic boxes for fruiting chamber
Large Storage Bin, 132 Qt, 1 Pack $69.99 - 1 large box for fruiting chamber (growbox, monotub)
Adjustable Quiet Oxygen Air Pump $14.99 - for additional FAE in GrowBox or MonoTub
Govee Digital Hygrometer and Thermometer, Remote App $11.04 - to track temp and humidity in fruiting chamber
Cold White LED light bar, Under Cabinet with Memory Function $16.99 - light option for any fruiting chamber
LED White Light Strip, 6500K, 16.4ft $15.99 - light option for growbox, monotub, small growtent
LED Rope Lights Waterproof, 6500K, 150ft $83.99 - enough for few boxes or GrowTent
Mist spray bottle, 10 oz., White/Black/Clear $8.99 - for manual misting
Humidifier Fog Machine Mister - 3L $49.77 - to maintain high relative humidity
Fogger with Humidity Controller 4L $57.99 - humidifier with humidity controller
Humidity Sensor with LCD Display for Greenhouse Mushroom Grow $25.99 - humidity sensor if you use humidifier for automated misting
Inkbird Humidity Controller IHC200 Humidistat Mushroom Greenhouse $42.99 - humidity sensor if you use humidifier for growbox or growtent
Step 10. Shiitake fruiting and harvesting
I had 2 mushroom blocks.
Each block was about 5 lbs (~2 kg) and produce 3 handsome flushes.
Second flush after rehydration was the most productive.
Overall yield from each block (3 flushes) was about 300-400g of fresh shiitake mushrooms.
Stuff to buy on Amazon:
Step 11. Rehydration for shiitake mushroom block
To initiate new flush of fruiting (cycling mushroom block) you need to make rehydration (soaking mushroom block in water).
Rehydration also helps to initiate the very first flush. If you don't have pins in 2 weeks from starting fruiting conditions, then rehydration highly recommended to shock mycelium and promote pinhead initiation.
Rehydration — aka Flushing or cycling of the mushroom cake/block that includes submersion the entire block substrate in cold water and allowing waste products to flush out and the bulk substrate to rehydrate with water in preparation of the next cycle. This creates a shock to the block that stimulates new mycelial growth to flush again. Often aborts and secondary metabolites will appear after a block cycle rehydration.
I rehydrate mushroom block after each flush of fruiting and harvesting.Just soak mushroom cake in cold clean drinking water for 8-12 hours and bring back to growbox again.
❗️ Be sure mushroom block completely submerged in water
Wait for the new flush in 1-2 weeks.
Usually first and second flushes are the most powerful.
Here is my 3 flush after rehydration, just one mushroom on the block
Another block after rehydration is more productive on the 3rd flush
Start growing right away with ready grow kit
If you want to skip all steps are listed above just use shiitake grow kit. Mist ready-made block from time to time, maintain fruiting conditions, enjoy mushroom fruiting and harvesting!
Shiitake grow kit on Amazon:
Shiitake Mushroom Grow Kit $34.99
Shroomok' comment: I prefer and suggest to make everything by your own! It's cost effective for long-term mushroom growing hobby!
Flush of fruiting from wasted blocks
Usually after 3 flushes mushroom block don't have enough nutrients and won't fruit any more.
I thought so, till I saw this
New mushrooms appeared and blocks fruited again
My additional unexpected harvest
Shiitake fruiting in the basement
For my next shiitake cultivation I repeat all steps are listed above: spawn preparation, sawdust substrate preparation, bulk colonization period.
The only thing was different. I used the basement as fruiting chamber, actually it was fruiting ROOM for my shiitake. I didn't do anything extra. Just put mushroom block in the basement.
There were 59-61F or +15..16C, sometimes maybe lower temperature.
It was cold and extremely humid. There were water drops on the walls and ceiling.
And you know what?! My shiitake loved it!
First flush of fruiting is coming...
To initiate new flush I rehydrated mushroom block in cold water for 8-12 hours. Placed it in the basement conditions again. Voila, in 1-2 weeks I had second flush of fruiting
Final third flush of fruiting (after rehydration)
I had mushroom block about 4-5 lbs (~2 kg) and 3 productive flushes of fruiting.
Total yield from this block for 3 flushes - 400g of fresh shiitake 😋
How to store shiitake mushrooms
Fresh shiitake mushrooms can be stored in refrigerator in paper bag or plastic bag up to 1 week.
For long term storage dry them right after harvesting to save their aroma and nutrients.
The best way to dry shiitake mushrooms is in food dehydrator. If you don't have dehydrator you can use fan, heat fan or just put mushrooms on the flat surface in ventilated room for a few days.
Dehydrators for any mushrooms on Amazon:
My notes, tips and tricks for shiitake growing
🔸 Brown mycelium is totally normal for shiitake!
🔸 I had experience of reusing grow bag with sawdust substrate that was contaminated with green monster Trichoderma (after spawn to bulk).
I re-sterilized my grow bag and wait for 1-2 days. When the growth of Trich mold started again (it looks pretty distinctive), then sterilized one more time. At this point the substrate is ready for reusing.
To be sure make sterilization 2 times after Trichoderma contamination
I assume that the final yield from such block may be a little less, because trich had time to absorb some nutrients from the substrate. But I think it won't noticeable if you sterilize your block right after the start of green mold spreading. There is much more benefits to reuse the substrate than just throw it away with the high risk of spreading spores in the air!
🔸 Rehydrate mushroom block BEFORE first flush if you are waiting for pins/primordia more than 2 weeks after providing fruiting conditions. Rehydration is a great way to initiate pinning and further mushroom fruiting.
Write it up!
Hope my experience with shiitake mushrooms inspire you to add them to your cultivation portfolio.
I love shiitake cultivation! Love their beautiful look, amazing taste and awesome mushroom aroma. They taste 1000 times better than oysters for sure! They have special mushroom behavior while growing. It's so interesting to explore them on each step of cultivation process.
I have some ideas for improvements that can increase my yield. I'll keep you posted! Stay tuned!
Have a happy growing!
Made with love by @mrzimm
Promoted by ©Shroomok
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