It can be hard to get kids (and some adults) to try new foods, especially if those foods are kinda funny looking. Mushrooms, for example, are quite delicious, but some folks just aren’t in to fungus.
Those caps can seem a bit strange, plucked from the dirt, packaged in foam, and wrapped up in plastic at the grocery store. But, you don’t have to go to the supermarket to find edible mushrooms. You can actually grow them easily at home, so picky eaters can see from just where their food is coming.
Not only does the Mushroom Kit encourage healthy eating, it also teaches kids about the growing process. And, if distaste for toadstools isn’t a problem, those self-proclaimed ‘shroom-lovers can enjoy the kit, too, since growing the tasty morsels at home saves money.
The kit includes everything you need to grow up to 1.5 pounds of fresh oyster mushrooms–the box (used as a growing container), soil made of used coffee grounds, mushroom spores, and a mister (to mist the spores twice daily). The kit’s reusable, allowing you to grow two to four crops, and the leftover soil and mushroom root mixture can be composted and used to fertilize other plants when you’re all done.
The compact kit is great for small kitchens and classrooms, the growing process is easy, and your first crop can be harvested and enjoyed in as little as ten days. Although the process is simple now, it did take designers Nikhil Arora and Alejandro Velez a few tries to get it just right.
The friends were in their last semester of college together when they started experimenting with growing mushrooms using recycled coffee grounds. They began mixing coffee grounds and mushroom spawn in buckets in their fraternity kitchen and after a few tries they had a batch of beautiful, gourmet oyster mushrooms.
“Not knowing what a good mushroom tasted like versus a bad one, we walked that paint bucket of mushrooms down to the best restaurant we knew in town – Chez Panisse – whose founder, Alice Waters, happened to be there. Cal, one of the head chefs, tried some of the mushrooms on the spot,” Nikhil explains. “We still remember him sautéing the mushrooms and shouting, ‘Whoa – these are delicious!’”
While their first batch of mushrooms was grown in paint bucket, Nikhil and Alex figured most consumers would prefer aesthetically pleasing, eco-friendly, less space-consuming boxes to bulky plastic buckets. Now the Mushroom Kit allows even the most inexperienced gardeners to grow fresh, delicious mushrooms at home with ease.
Getting hungry? Alex and Nikhil sent us a few of their favorite oyster mushroom recipes.
Chef Chloe’s Oyster Mushroom Tacos
1 medium onion, chopped
1 Red, Green, and/or Yellow Bell Peppers, medium dice
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoon canola oil
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
1 (15 ounce) cans black beans, rinsed and drained
5 ounces homegrown oyster mushrooms, shredded
8 (6 inch) flour or corn tortillas, warmed
1 mango, small dice
¼ bunch cilantro, roughly chopped
½ red onion, small dice
1 tablespoon agave
1. In medium skillet, sauté onion, bell peppers and garlic in oil until soft. Add spices and season with salt and pepper.
2. Add black beans and shredded oyster mushrooms and sauté until desired tender texture.
3. Fill tortillas with the mushroomy goodness!
1. Toss all the ingredients together and use to top off the tacos!
Oyster Mushroom Pasta in Pink Sauce
Ingredients (Yields 4 servings)
1 pound spaghetti (you can also use fettuccini, angel hair or any long pasta shape)
1 cup minced onion (1 small onion)
¼ cup olive oil, divided
1 clove garlic, minced
3 cups almond or dairy milk
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
¼ cup Organic Tomato Paste
5 ounces Oyster Mushrooms, left whole or sliced
¼ bunch parsley, finely chopped
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1. Boil the pasta in salted water per package instructions. In the meantime, sauté onion in 2 tablespoons olive oil with 1 teaspoon of salt over medium heat until completely soft, stirring frequently to avoid browning. Add garlic and cook a few minutes longer.
2. In a blender, combine the onion/garlic mixture, milk, nutritional yeast, and tomato paste. Process until very smooth, adding salt and pepper to taste.
3. Sauté mushrooms in 2 tablespoons olive oil and pinch of salt over medium/high heat until soft and browned.
4. Toss pasta with the pink sauce, mushrooms, and garnish with parsley. Serve hot and creamy!