When it comes to creepy looking plants fungi might be up there with the creepiest. But, fungi and especially mushrooms are remarkable and a vital part of our world. Without them we would not exist, in fact, they maybe one of the most underappreciated organisms on the planet. Fungi is not a plant, nor an animal, but has a kingdom all of its own consisting of over 150,000 species. It is one of the most resilient specimens on the planet, proving this by being the only living thing growing up the walls in the ruined nuclear reactor at Chernobyl.
Most people don’t know that the largest living organism today is thought to be a fungus in Oregon measuring 2.4 miles across in the Blue Mountains. This humongous network of mushrooms appear as clumps of edible brown shrooms above the surface, while below ground it is one big connected colony!
Many fungi are used as food such as mushrooms, truffles and yeast. Others are used for medicine and to kill bacteria such as penicillin, and some are used for their psychedelic effects affectionately known as magic mushrooms. However, mushrooms like Reishi and Turkey Tail have been used for thousands of years for their healing properties and today mushrooms are considered a nutritional powerhouse full of antioxidants, vitamin D and B, fiber, and amino acids.
The interest in growing our own fruit and vegetables has kicked into high gear since the beginning of the pandemic, but you can also easily grow mushrooms. On Maui, Aloha Mushrooms offer affordable ready-to-go bucket kits for $44 to help Maui families effortlessly grow this valuable and nutritious resource at home. Their mission is to teach the community how to grow mushrooms and provide tutorials and also home visits to help individuals set up and manage their own mushroom gardens. Currently their bucket kits include Oyster Mushrooms, but they anticipate a wider variety coming in the next couple of weeks.
Mushrooms remarkably only take around 4 to 8 days to fully grow as they double in size around every 24 hours! If you would like to learn more about growing your own mushrooms you can visit their FB page at Aloha Mushrooms, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 495-7837.
Below is a delicious and simple mushroom recipe you can enjoy with your family as we move into the fall:
Fresh Creamy Mushroom Soup (non-dairy): Serves 4
2 Tbsp cooking oil of your choice
1/2 medium onion, finely chopped
2 garlic clove, finely chopped
1/4 cup organic flour
2 1/2 cups of organic vegetable stock
3 cups of mushrooms, sliced (baby bella (crimini), oyster, shiitake, white – mixed or one kind)
1/4 cup parsley, finely chopped
1 1/2 cups of coconut milk
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Place half the cooking oil in a pan with the onion and garlic and sauté gently over a medium heat for 5 minutes, without coloring.
Stir in the flour for one minute and then gradually add the stock, while continuously stirring.
Add half of the sliced mushrooms and parsley. Cover, bring to the boil and then simmer for 10-15 minutes or until the mushrooms are tender.
Cool for ten minutes and then place in a blender and puree.
Empty the remaining oil and mushrooms in the pan and sauté until brown. Add pureed soup and simmer for three minutes.
Finally add the coconut milk and season to taste.
Serve garnished with fresh parsley and nutritional yeast and enjoy, as the days get cooler.
Image Credit: mauimama