Book Review

Medicinal Mushrooms You Can Grow
by Hajo Hadeler

Cover: Medicinal Mushrooms You Can Grow

Although the subtitle is "For Health, Pleasure and Profit", this book, now in its second printing, is primarily for home growers. If that is your interest, this book will serve you well. It strikes us as a nice balance with less technical detail than offered in Stamets' books and a style of writing that is very readable.

There are five parts to the book. The first, "Understanding Mushrooms", runs 94 pages. It provides a clear discussion of mushroom biology and the place of mushrooms in the world. The tale is reminiscent of Bryce Kendrick's book, The Fifth Kingdom, with interesting tidbits tossed in along the way. For example, did you know that the coloring matter in litmus paper is derived from a lichen (a symbiotic relationship between a fungus and an alga)? Did you know that a fungus led to the popularity of tea in England? Find out why in this book! This section also includes a discussion on several medicinal species including Cordyceps sinensis, Poria cocos, Phallus impudicus, puffballs, truffles, Auricularia auricula, Coprinus comatus, Flammulina velutipes, Pleurotus ostreatus, Agaricus bisporus, Lentinula edodes, and Ganoderma lucidum.

The second section is 38 pages long and deals with cultivating mushrooms on wood and straw. The section begins with a walk in the woods to open your mind to the habitats these mushrooms require and the habitats you must mimic. It goes on to describe a simple technique for inoculating stumps as well as saw cut, wedge and dowel techniques for inoculating natural logs. We can vouch for the accuracy of the information concerning oyster cultivation. We placed our inoculated poplar logs about five inches into the ground as Hadeler suggests. They thrived and, after a couple years, mushrooms did indeed pop up right out of the soil. Next, this section addresses pests, especially slugs. Of particular interest is a simple technique, "Dr. Cerny's Slug Trap", that will keep slugs entirely away from your logs (hint: it involves serrated dacron). Finally, the section covers growing oyster and Stropharia mushrooms on straw bales.

The third section, 27 pages, deals with the use of sawdust and wood chips as mushroom substrates. Thus, the discussion addresses the use of sterilization and pasteurization, bags or bottles, substrate recipes, and production processes.

The fourth section deals with air drying, heat drying, salt preservation, canning, deep freezing and an unusual technique the author calls silage. The final section offers recipes and cooking advice.