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Chestnut Mushroom Growing Guide
Chestnut Mushroom (Pholiota adiposa)
The Chestnut Mushroom, a close cousin of the slimy capped Nameko Mushroom (Pholiota microspora), is a wonderful clustering, wood loving mushroom. They form dense clusters of beautiful shaggy-capped mushrooms with dark orange gills. They are a saprophytic and weak parasitic species that grow on living and dead stems of European beech trees in their natural range. As they prefer cooler temperatures, they take a little longer to mature once they have started pinning. Expect to harvest 7 to 10 days after primordia (pins) have formed.
Fruiting months: All year round
Pinning Temp: 12°C – 20°C
Pinning Humidity: 95% – 100%
Fruiting Temp: 12°C – 25°C
Fruiting Humidity: 85% – 90%
Cultivation Difficulty: Medium
Under the right seasonal conditions, Chestnut mushrooms fruit easily and readily. Various methods can be employed to fruit them successfully, the following is a tried and tested guideline:
Step 1: Remove the cotton wool plug from the grow stick and fill the hole with a small amount of water. After a few minutes you can pour it out.
Step 2: Cut open the plastic at your chosen spot (see the tip below!). Cutting an “X” shape is the best, because it’ll keep your pins a bit covered and therefore keep their environment sufficiently humid. You can also just cut the plastic away completely and expose the mycelium, but make sure you keep the exposed area wet enough.
Tip: Often pins or overlay has already formed under the plastic and look like small bumps or bulges. These are good spots to choose for this step. If there is no sign of pins forming, it is best to wait (up to a week) to see if you get any overlay or pins forming under the plastic. If you still don’t see any pins, you can try cutting at a spot that has a lot of concentrated mycelium. Make sure this spot is close to your soaked perlite, and keep it well hydrated!
Optional Step 3: Put your perlite in a colander or sieve and run some cold water over it before adding it to your fruiting chamber. Once it’s in the chamber, you can even add a little extra water to make sure it’s soaked through.
Tip: Soaked perlite is extremely useful to help create the optimal humid environment for your mushrooms and we recommend using it to help you get the best results from our grow sticks. We do supply perlite with all our fruiting chamber options but it is readily available at most nurseries.
Step 4: To avoid possible contamination, clean your chosen fruiting chamber with soap and water, rinse it thoroughly and let it dry.
Step 5: Place the grow stick in your chosen fruiting chamber. Make sure that your fruiting site is positioned so that your mushrooms will not be obstructed by any part of the fruiting chamber as they grow, and that they are as close to the water or soaked perlite as possible.
Tip: Consider carefully where you place your mushroom kit as this will affect how well they grow. Try to find a spot that receives plenty of ambient light but is out of direct sunlight. Avoid drafty areas such as those next to open windows or doors as this can dry out the growsticks. A closed off room that has a regular temperature is best.
Chestnut Tip: Chestnut mushrooms can be difficult to grow, try to be as patient as possible with them. If you don’t see pins forming after about a week, try cutting a different fruiting site or moving your grow to a different house in the room. Growing mushrooms can be tricky, don’t be discouraged if you don’t get it right the first few times!
Step 6: Using a spray bottle set to a fine mist, spray your grow stick from about 30cm away. Misting 2 – 4 times per day is enough to keep your mushrooms happy! Before work, when you get home, and just before bed should be sufficient but an extra misting would be beneficial if you’re at home.
Tip: Try to spray so that the mist falls over the grow stick and perlite rather than spraying directly at the mushrooms. It’s ok for the mushrooms to get slightly wet but remember that the aim of misting is to maintain a humid environment for them. Use your mister to rehydrate the perlite if it feels dry, and don’t be afraid to add some more water to the perlite at any stage.
Chestnut mushrooms should be harvested before the cap flattens out, any longer and the harvest’s shelf life will be significantly shorter. Harvest them in their clusters, gently twist and pull them being cautious to not pull out too much substrate. Your next flush of fruits will come straight from the previous fruiting site.
- Wash your hands with soap and water before harvesting
- Lightly grip the base of the cluster and with a twisting and pulling motion carefully separate the mushrooms from the substrate of the grow stick.
- Try not to take too much substrate off of the grow stick.
- Tape up your hole with some clear packaging tape as neatly as possible with as little chance for air to enter the gaps.
- Check out our guide on how to get a second flush out of your grow stick – The Second Flush.
The pictures below are a day apart. The one on the left is the day before harvest, and the one on the right is on the day of harvest. You could decide to harvest on either of these days, but do not let them go beyond the stage on the right.
Caution: If you let your mushrooms grow too long before harvesting they will drop spores. When your mushrooms drop spores it dramatically decreases their quality and it can be dangerous to your lung health if this happens too often.
With Chestnut mushrooms both the stem and the cap are great for cooking with, although the very tip of the stem can be quite tough. Once you’ve harvested the chestnuts in their clusters, break them up into smaller clusters of 4 or 5 mushrooms each, and then slice off the very tips of the stems all at once.
These mushrooms have a wonderful nutty flavour, similar to the Shiitake mushroom, only milder and with a slightly peppery finish. They are particularly known to keep their texture quite well after cooking, retaining some of their “snap”, resulting in a satisfying texture for whatever dish you put them in.