Print this page | Sign up for free e-bulletins
 | Bookmark This Page

The Great Shiitake Experiment

shiitakes 2014 copy

I am a longtime fan of all Asian mushrooms and they have prominent place in my anti-inflammatory food pyramid, but the shiitake (Lentinula edodes) may be my favorite. Featuring a firm texture and a rich, umami taste, shiitakes are an integral, delicious part of Chinese, Japanese and Thai cuisines. They also offer unique health benefits: research indicates compounds in shiitakes may lower cholesterol, enhance immune function and reduce risk of several kinds of cancer.

With shiitakes - as with anything that grows - freshness matters. I'm also always looking for new gardening challenges (such as my quest to grow real wasabi). So in late July, 2011, at my summer home in British Columbia, Canada, three friends - Nori Fletcher, Charris Ford and Conrad Dombrowski - and I set out to create our own homegrown supply of shiitakes.

We began by securing 16 alder logs, with plans to get 15 more soon. Alders are weed trees here, and abundant. Just three days after they were cut (the logs have to be green) we took turns going through this sequence:

  • drilling holes, 40 to 50 per log, 5/16ths inch in diameter and 1-1/4 inches deep
  • pounding in plug spawn (provided by Paul Stamets)
  • waxing the plugs and ends of logs to prevent contamination by other fungi
  • stacking logs in a tree-shaded "rick" that is regularly sprayed by an irrigation head so that they won't dry out

Next spring when it warms up, we'll try to initiate fruiting by soaking the logs in water for 24 hours.  If no mushrooms result, we'll let them sit until fall and try again. Growing shiitakes is not for the impatient. But the rewards should make it all worthwhile. Once logs begin to fruit, they can produce two flushes of mushrooms a year for up to seven years. Conrad recently got 50 pounds of shiitake from 20 logs that he prepared last year , so if all goes well, we'll be abundantly supplied.

Whether you grow them yourself or buy from a quality supplier, here are several of my favorite shiitake mushroom recipes:

Andrew Weil, M.D.

See a slideshow: Growing Shiitake Mushrooms

The Weil Vitamin Advisor
Get your FREE personalized vitamin recommendation & supplement plan today!

Dr. Weil on Healthy Aging
Your Online Guide to the Anti-Inflammatory Diet. Start eating for your health - begin your free trial now.

Dr. Weil's Spontaneous Happiness
Achieve emotional well-being in just eight weeks! Start your 10-day free trial now!

Vitamin Library
Supplement your knowledge with Dr. Weil's essential vitamin facts. Learn why they are necessary and more.

Dr. Weil's Optimum Health Plan
Your 8-week plan to wellness.
Begin your journey today!

Dr. Weil's Head-to-Toe Wellness Guide
Your guide to natural health.
Use the Wellness Guide today!

Dr. Weil's Anti-Inflammatory Diet
Food Pyramid

Our interactive tool can help improve overall health through diet.

Condition Care Guide
Learn about health conditions from acne to vertigo, and Dr. Weil's view of the best treatment options for each.

Healthy Recipes
Discover a treasure trove of healthy, healing foods and creative, delicious ways to prepare them.

Q&A Library
Over 2,000 questions from you and their corresponding answers from Dr. Weil.

Copyright © 2015 Weil Lifestyle
Information on this web site is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for the advice provided by your physician or other healthcare professional. You should not use the information on this web site for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, or prescribing any medication or other treatment.

Ad Choice
Advertising Notice

This Site and third parties who place advertisements on this Site may collect and use information about your visits to this Site and other websites in order to provide advertisements about goods and services of interest to you. If you would like to obtain more information about these advertising practices and to make choices about online behavioral advertising, please click here