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Forest Nameko Mushroom Growing Guide
Forest Nameko (Pholiota microspora)
The Forest Nameko is closely related to the Chestnut mushroom (Pholiota adiposa) and is native to the hardwood oak and beech forests of Asia. They have a very similar appearance to the Chestnut, but the shiny orange caps are covered in a natural type of gelatin instead of the scales. While some might think the gelatin is a sign of the mushroom going bad, it is perfectly normal. The gelatinous layer is the reason these mushrooms have become sought after in the culinary world. They are a standard ingredient in Japanese Miso soup where they act as a natural thickener and flavour enhancer. While they are one of the most popular mushrooms in Japan, they are not widely used western countries due to the slimy appearance, although they are starting to grow in popularity (for good reason!).
Fruiting months: Winter
Pinning Temp: 10°C – 15°C
Pinning Humidity: 98% – 100%
Fruiting Temp: 13°C – 18°C
Fruiting Humidity: 90% – 95%
Cultivation Difficulty: Medium – Difficult
Under the right seasonal conditions, Nameko 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.
Nameko Tip: Forest Nameko 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 30 cm 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.
Nameko Tip: Because of their slimy caps, Nameko mushrooms need a lot of humidity! Make sure you mist as often as possible, and that your perlite is nice and wet. You can even pour a little bit of water into the perlite every couple of days.
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 wet but they can respond negatively to getting too wet, and remember that you’re wanting to maintain a humid environment for them. Use your mister to rehydrate the perlite if it feels dry.
Nameko mushrooms should be harvested before the caps of the fruiting bodies open and should be picked in their clusters by gently twisting the cluster at the base. Store them in a cool place and they can keep for up to four days. If one stores them below 5°C, their shelf life can increase up to just over week.
- 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.
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.
The Forest Nameko is a unique and very versatile mushroom in the kitchen. It is extremely popular in Japan (second only to the delicious shiitake) but has not been widely used in the western world, although it is gaining in popularity. The Forest Nameko is most widely used as a primary ingredient in miso soup where the gelatinous layer on the cap helps to thicken the soup and adds to the soup’s subtle flavours. These mushrooms are best suited to sautéing, grilling, or boiling. Due to the thickening ability of their gelatinous cap, they are regularly used in soups, stews, risottos, and sauces. When cooked slightly longer on a high heat their nutty flavour is enhanced. Other popular dishes that these mushrooms can be used in include stir fries, pastas or added as a topping on pizzas.