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Shiitake appendix & resources

Shiitake (Lentinus edodes) is native to Asia and is found growing wild in the mountainous

regions of China, Japan, Indonesia, and Taiwan. Records of mushroom cultivation date

back around 2000 years. 'Wu san Kwung , who is credited with working out how to grow

shiitake mushrooms in China around the year 1000, is commemorated with an annual feast

day, and temples throughout the country are dedicated to his achievements' Merlin

Sheldrake -Entangled Life.


In nature, Shiitake spores are released from fruiting bodies in the autumn or spring,

traveling through the forest they fall on trees, fallen branches and logs. The Shiitake spores

take over the wood and build a mycelial network that produces fruiting bodies.


Cultivation involves using a substrate which is the growing medium where the mushrooms

first establish themselves as mycelium and use the substrate as a food source to produce

their fruiting bodies. Shiitake can either be grown on fresh cut logs or a sawdust block.

Fresh cut logs after innoculating with spores take about a year to fruit but the log will

continue to fruit biannually or more for three to four years.


Sawdust blocks are relatively easy and much quicker than using natural logs taking about 3

months to fruit. and produce about 4 flushes with a short rest between each one. The yield is high but a few argue the earthy taste is slightly less than shiitake grown on a log.

Commercially this is becoming the preferred method.

Substrate & spawn

You can find out all about cultivation as well as source mushroom growing supplies from

Mushroom grow kits

If the process of spawning your own substrate is a step too far for you, but you really want a

harvest of fresh shiitake, you could always start with a simple grow kit prepared by a

mushroom specialty company. One of the best companies I know is Merryhill Mushrooms


Learning resources

Growing Gourmet & Medicinal Mushrooms - Paul Stamets 2016 (revised edition)

Mycelium Running - Paul Stamets 2005

Paul Stamets website -

Entangled Life - Merlin Sheldrake 2020

State of the Worlds Fungi - Royal Botanic Gardens Kew 2018

Buy products

shiitake powder

shiitake tincture - extract

fresh & dried shiitake mushrooms

Make your own tincture

Fill a litre kilner jar halfway with dried shiitake mushrooms.

Fill jar with vodka or ethanol making sure it completely covers the mushrooms, but leave

about a 1 inch space at the top of the jar. Securely fasten the lid.

Sit in a cool dark place for a month shaking daily.

Strain the mushroom-infused alcohol through cheesecloth into a measuring jug note the

volume then bottle and set aside.

Bring 2 litres of filtered water to a boil, turn down the heat, add the mushrooms from the

alcohol extract and simmer gently for 1 -2 hours until the volume of water has evaporated to

10% of the volume of your alcohol extract.

Cool then strain the mushrooms through cheesecloth saving the mushroom-infused water.

Combine the water extract with the alcohol extract to make your tincture - bottle and store

in a cool dark place

Other medicinal mushrooms

Maitake supports the immune system and has been used to improve the health of AIDS

patients. Maitake regulates blood sugar levels of diabetics and may reduce hypertension

 Lions Mane has anti- inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties. This mushroom supports

brain health, improves mood and helps to maintain focus

Reishi is anti-inflammatory, supports the liver, helps overcome fatigue, soothes digestive

problems, stomach ulcers and leaky gut syndrome.

Cordyceps has anti-aging effects and boosts immune function. Improves stamina, fights

diabetes, and improves liver function.


by Daphne Lambert

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