The shiitake mushrooms are the stronger and darker flavored cousins of the great button mushrooms. Because of their unique characteristics in the culinary world, they are also being considered in the West. They are found on the shelves of any supermarket nationwide. They are an excellent source of selenium. The mycelia or the threads convert and digest the wood into fungal tissues. After the wood has undergone sufficient deterioration, the fungi produce fruits. The mushrooms naturally pop out from spores of the wood in the wild. A new cycle of life starts when the wind blows on them. Here is how they are made.
Cultivating it naturally:
Logs are usually filled during the fall time and are inoculated within thirty days. Trees felled during the summer are less favorable for the Shiitake Logs because the bark is loose and has a low content of sugar in them. The wood may get contaminated easily because it strips off quickly and further reduces good yielding. After the boles are cut into desired lengths, they are prepared for spawning or inoculation. The spawn is usually sawdust or wooden plugs. Holes are drilled on to the boles, and they are evenly spaced. Plug spawns are inserted into the drilled holes and covered with hot wax. The mycelia growth lasts for about a few months, and the logs are sent to a “raising yard.” The logs yield high growth during winters.
Two stages of Synthetic production:
Step 1: The usage of sawdust is used in synthetic formulations comprising the substrate. It is the most favourite ingredient. Other ingredients may also include corncobs, straw and both. Many other substrates are added to calcium carbonate, table sugar and gypsum to produce optimum and better quality of Shiitake Logs. After selection of the ingredients, they are mixed in a proper ratio. Then this filling which contains supplemented nutrients of the substrate is treated to polypropylene bags that are heat-resistant. They are further treated and in an autoclave.
Stage 2: After the substrate undergoes steam sterilization they are made to incubate in the bags made of polypropylene, in a room that is spawn-run and is lighted. The substrate is colonized by the removal of the bags after having a spawn-run of three weeks. Then this substrate is further kept in a room meant for browning after having removed the bags of plastic. The boles that are contained in moisture soak all the tanks after having been kept in the Browning room. Before placing they are soaked for four hours before production. Then the boles fruit after having been soaked in moisture.
Prospects for the future:
Consumers are becoming increasingly aware of functional food and exceptional culinary characteristics of these particular mushrooms. With the advancement of technology, it has helped in the retail price of these mushrooms to decline. The product quality has also risen along with massive demands from the consumers. In the current times, it has the best potential in the world of cuisine. These also have a long shelf life and hence are being preferred by the consumers more. Additional researches are being carried out to devise ways that can considerably reduce the time of Browning, spawn run and cycle. If these methods can be well executed in future after being tested and tried then the output will increase reducing the cost of production.