• Jonathan Till

Successes, Failures and Finds

One of the things that I tell my Sous chefs is "I like to watch people learn". What I mean by that is I'll tell someone how to do something and they either interpret it wrong or more often than not they decided their way is better. Asking someone "...and what have we learned?" after they blatantly ignored my direction or advice, making what I like to call "a big pile of wrong" is like sweet, sweet candy to my chef brain. Now the reason I'm telling you the inner workings of my mind hole is because over the past few weeks I've been doing some learning of my own. I'm reading books and watching youtube videos by some of the worlds most renown cultivators of commercial and medicinal mushrooms and only about half following their direction. Truth be told there's a couple different reasons for this. I'm in the process of setting up my clean room to do spore gathering, petri inoculation (to grow wild mushrooms I forage) and sterilization. So I don't really have anywhere to do things the recommended way(s), yet.

Another reason I'm going off on my own is every book I've read and video I watched has all said "let yourself make mistakes". It's a humbling experience. It's given me the opportunity to see first hand some ways NOT to do things. But nothing is in vain. With every experiment or inoculation I learn something new or I get to see what I've read confirmed with my own eyes. I spent so much time in learning to identify the mushrooms fruit (the part we eat) that I never really bothered to think about the about its other parts. I guess when most people see a steak at the grocery store they don't go out and try to clone it because they liked it, but that is exactly what I'm learning to do now.

But with my failures I've also had some, well actually more successes. With every success I've found a more cost effective and sustainable way to bring a product that has given me so much joy and knowledge to everyone else. I've successfully started spawn for 3 types of oyster mushrooms, golden, pink, and blue. I'll be inoculating wooden dowls or "plugs" and with those I'll add more logs to Permaculture at Heritage Foraging. I'm hoping to get a rainbow of Oyster Mushrooms and create a dried mix that will be available at our store and call it "Rainbow Warrior Oyster Mix", seeing as I'm from Hawaii.

So, if you've read this far I applaud you. You're probably thinking that "this is a foraging site, where's the damn foraging"!? Unfortunately it was pretty dry up until the last week. I've been out at least twice a week for a while trying to find ANY edible mushrooms to collect, but the only thing I usually manage to bring home is a tick or two (we haven't had a hard freeze in a couple of years here so ticks are super bad this year!). That was up until a few days ago when it's rained almost every day fro the last 4 days! Chanterelles and other summer mushrooms are just around the corner and I've located a new spot that I think will produce a bumper crop this year. It's also in a place I think other foragers won't be going so the pressure and competition should be at a minimum. Although because of the pandemic restaurants aren't in high demand for exotic mushrooms leaving less professional foragers out there. So if you're a hobbyist or just someone who's always wanted to get out and learn about mushrooms this is the year to do it! With that I'll leave you with a picture of a beautiful Chicken of the Woods I collected right out of my neighbors backyard. They call it Chicken of the Woods because the structure of the mushroom mimics the texture of chicken breast when cooked!

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