Table Top Farms are an incredible introduction into the world
of fungi. They are available in several unique varieties (Shiitake, Oyster, Lion's Mane, Pioppini, Reishi, and Chestnut) and
all are fun and easy to grow. The Chestnut is a beautiful rustic brown colored mushroom that grows in large bountiful clusters. It's a culinary delight that can be easily incorporated into any dish. Use the entire mushroom - both cap and stem maintain their crunchy texture even after cooking. Follow these five simple steps for setting up and fruiting your Chestnut Table Top Farm.
Setting Up Your Table Top Farm:
1. Preparation and Setup
Open the box containing your ready-to-fruit mushroom block. Set the box up on it's side (Figure 1). Using a sharp knife, cut a diagonal slit from corner to corner (Figure 2).
2. Fruiting Location
Your Table Top Farm is aptly named. It can be grown on your kitchen table, countertop, shelf, or other surface that receives indirect sun or incandescent light. A grow light works equally well (at least 8 hours a day). Room temperature should be between 55-70°F.
3. Maintaining and Monitoring
Mushrooms require humidity to develop. Generally the relative humidity of a household is enough to provide an adequate growing environment, however your kit may need occasional misting if your household is dry (RH of 30% or less). Tiny mushrooms will begin forming at the cut site 12+ days after setting up the farm. It will typically take 12-28 days for mushroom pins to begin forming (Figure 3). On occasion, mushrooms will begin developing in the trapped humid space between the block and the bag, away from the cuts (Figure 4). If you notice any mushroom pins developing in this way, gently cut the plastic open over the small pins to allow them to develop properly (Figure 5).
4. Harvest Mushrooms
While the mushrooms are developing, monitor your farm closely. Harvest them when the edges of the cap are still curled downward. Overly mature mushrooms do not store as long. To harvest, simply grab the cluster of mushrooms, twist, and pull them off the block, trimming away any sawdust from their base. Store your harvest in the refrigerator for up to 10 days in a brown paper bag or other semi-breathable container.
Chestnut mushrooms are mild in flavor but have an exceptional ability to hold their amber-red color and crunchy texture during cooking. When ready to use, separate the clusters into individual mushrooms - no other preparation is needed. If washing seems necessary, rinse briefly and pat dry just before cooking. These mushrooms do not need to be sliced, as the long edible stem is part of the mushrooms' culinary appeal.
5. Additional Fruiting
After your first harvest, remove the mushroom block from the box. Flip the block and return it to the box so that the previously fruited side is now on the inside of the box. Cut open the fresh side, cutting a diagonal slit from the top left corner to the bottom right corner. Care for it with the same guidelines as the first fruiting.