(Interested in the health benefits of Lions Mane Mushrooms? Learn how Lions Mane can Supercharge Your Brain here)
Growing the Lions Mane Mushroom is unique in many ways. It takes on an odd shape, like that of a snowball or a stock of cauliflower. Rather than a stem and cap, Lions Mane grows elongated teeth as a way to spread its spores. Its texture is spongy and takes on the flavor of whatever it is cooked in.The Lions Mane mushroom is relatively easy to grow at home, provides a good yield and best of all- it’s a culinary delight.
Scientific Name: Hericium Erinacious
Lions Mane Mushroom grows in large snowball like formations. The mushroom is white, sometimes browning if the spines are damaged or with age. Individual mushrooms can be quite large, sometimes weighing over 1 lb. The spines or “teeth” start out quite small, but elongate with age. The mushroom is spongy and sometimes semi-hollow. It is sensitive to direct spraying when growing, bruising easily.
Lions Mane Mushroom starts out as tiny spines.
Lions Mane teeth elongate as the mushroom grows.
Natural Habitat: Lions Mane is most commonly found on dead and decaying hardwood logs, most often in the fall throughout North America.
Difficulty of Cultivation: Easy-Medium
Agar: Lions Mane is unique on Agar. It rarely grows out to the edge of the plate, but instead form little glacier like formations emanating from the initial wedge. Long teeth grow out from the wedge in all directions. The mycelium is also slow to take off initially.
Spawn Types: Grains, especially Rye grain. Watch Lions Mane grain spawn very closely, as it has the tendency to start fruiting well before full colonization. Lions Mane grain spawn needs to be shaken often to ensure full colonization of the spawn. The mycelium can look thin and whispy, so close inspection is required. It can sometimes look like colonization is incomplete even though its fully colonized.
Tegan holding a bag of fruiting Lions Mane.
Showing the elongated spines of the Lions Mane Mushroom.
Substrate Types: Lions Mane grows best on supplemented hardwood sawdust. Supplement with wheat bran at 10-20%. Higher spawn rates are effective with Lions Mane, increasing the chances that full colonization will take place.
Fruiting Containers: Use large autoclavable filter patch grow bags to create a fruiting block. Once full colonization is achieved, fruit by slicing small “x’s” in the bag at the site of primordia, or where the Lions Mane naturally starts to fruit. Do not cut off the top of the bag. More holes will cause more smaller fruit, whereas less holes will ensure fewer but larger fruit.
Yield: More than 2 lbs of Lions Mane can be harvested from a single 5 lb fruiting block over multiple flushes. Some individual fruits can weigh well over one pound.
Harvest: Harvest the Lions Mane by cutting the “snowball” off close to the bag with a sharp knife. Be very delicate with the fruit as to not damage the spines. The mushroom will store much longer in the fridge if handled delicately. Simply leave the fruiting block in the grow room without cutting new holes in the bag. Subsequent flushes will occur, with fruits developing at the sites of previous fruits.
Sliced up sections of Lions Mane Ready for the Frying Pan!
Weakness: Lions Mane is sometimes difficult to achieve full colonization. Some growers have had more success with Liquid Culture techniques. The mycelium is slow to take off on agar and rarely grows out in a natural circular pattern. The mushroom bruises easily and great care must be taken during spraying of the grow room and especially during harvest. Lions Mane will last a long time in the fridge if properly handled.
Cooking: Lions Mane is a culinary treat, extremely versatile in the kitchen. It acts as a good supplement for meat in many dishes, especially chicken. It has a spongy texture that soaks up whatever flavor it is cooked in. Simply cut the mushroom lengthwise into slices and fry in a pan. Many people find Lions Mane mushroom to be a good imitator of lobster, fried in a pan and dipped in melted butter. Lions Mane mushroom is also said to have medicinal properties, and thought to increase cognitive abilitiesby initiating nerve growth and regeneration. It can be found in health stores.
Incubate at room temperature for 10-14 days. Watch closely for whispy and thin colonization, and early primordia formation. Shake Often.
Pinning usually starts on its own. Lower temperature to 15 deg C. Cut holes in the grow bags and place in grow room.
Temperatures between 15-20 deg C. Humidity at 90%. Ensure not to spray fruits directly when misting. Fresh air requirements are relatively low.
The Lions Mane mushroom is probably our favorite mushroom to grow! It is fun to watch grow and produces very unique snowball like formations. The end result is a delicious and unique mushroom that is very useful in many dishes. If using Lions Mane for its medicinal properties, it can be dried and powdered for long term storage. We highly recommend trying to grow the Lions Mane Mushroom at home!
Thanks for reading. Post pictures of your own Lions Mane grows below!
All pictures and words by Tony Shields, FreshCap Mushrooms
-spread the spores-