There’s Fungus Among Us

At March’s Ecology Club meeting, Chesnut Changers welcomed two very cool guest speakers and their spawn:¬† Howard Berk and Todd Pittard of funguys logo

They taught us that mushrooms need only shade, moisture and wood to grow (they live off the sugars in the wood), and let the kids handle dried shiitake mushrooms. Each Chesnut Changer had the chance to inoculate logs that Berk and Pittard had pre-drilled for shiitake spawn inserts. These were placed in a shady spot in Chesnut Garden, where we’ll keep them moist for about 9 months before they will produce a first harvest (they are expected to produce for three years).

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Berk and Pittard also talked to us about eating only those mushrooms that our parents put on the plate, because mushrooms you find growing in the wild are very often poisonous. The kids enjoyed seeing 2funguys’ slideshow of mushroom varieties, and were bummed to discover that the very cool glow-in-the-dark Jack-o-Lantern mushrooms are poisonous (“Awwwwww!”).

Chesnut Changers thank Mr. Berk and Mr. Pittard for sharing their mushroom enthusiasm with Chesnut students, and answering all our questions (“what are these gills under the mushroom?). We also learned that mushrooms naturally contain a carcinogen, which is eliminated by heating, which is why Mr. Pittard recommends cooking mushrooms for at least 5 minutes rather than eating raw.

At-Home Action Icon canstockphoto2179142At-Home Actions: Grow Your Own Mushrooms and Roast Them! is a great locally-owned place to get your mushroom logs. Some of our parents purchased logs to take home after the meeting, but you can also order from their online store.

Here’s a recipe from¬†Chop Chop Magazine (cooking for kids)

Roasted Mushrooms

– 1 pound assorted mushrooms (you can use any combination of button, white, shiitake, portobello, cremini or oyster mushrooms), left whole if small, or quartered or halved if large

– 1 garlic clove, minced

– 1 tsp. salt

– 1/2 tsp. black pepper

1. Turn the oven on to BAKE and set it to 400 degrees.

2. Put the mushrooms on the baking sheet and add the olive oil, garlic, salt, and pepper. Mix well with clean hands or spoon.

3. Put the baking sheet in the oven. Roast until the mushrooms are golden brown, 20 to 30 minutes.

4. Serve right away or cover and refrigerate up to overnight.