Image courtesy of Ann F. Berger
Wine Cap Stropharia
Stropharia mushrooms, also called “garden giant”, burgundy mushroom or king stropharia are beautiful and delicious mushrooms that you can grow in your garden and as a companion to vegetables. Wine Caps are easy to identify and can grow up to 20cm high and 30cm in diameter – huge!
You can grow wine cap stropharia mushrooms on a wood chip bed in a shady spot in your garden, under some trees or between ferns, corn or even behind a shed. As far as mushrooms go the wine caps are more flexible in terms of their light requirements so they can tolerate semi shade when you are integrating it into the garden as opposed to an isolated bed.
How to Plant
The easiest method is to purchase some stropharia mushroom spawn from a local supplier which you can use to inoculate your wood chip bed. You will also need cardboard, wood chips (no older than 12 months) of mixed species and fresh straw (both soaked overnight and drained). Clear an area and dig about 10cm deep, lay down overlapping cardboard and wet it, then layer wood chips, spawn, straw, with about 3 layers of wood chips. On average 2kg of spawn will work for a bed of 2m x 1.5m.
How to Water
The stropharia mushroom bed should be watered thoroughly the day you make it and then once a week after that if there is no rain, especially during the warmer months / drier season.
Wine cap stropharia mushrooms can be grown with vegetables, under trees and between trees or used to fill some lost space in the garden that is nice and shady.
How to Propagate
Once you have established your stropharia mushroom bed it is easy to maintain by simply adding about 5cm of wood chips and/or straw every season. You can also create additional new beds by taking some of the chips from your bed and dividing it.
How to Harvest
Wine cap stropharia mushrooms will start fruiting anywhere between a few months and a year depending on your climate etc. Harvest mushrooms by gently twisting and pulling them off (or cut them if you prefer). They can be kept in a brown paper package for a few days in the fridge.
Information & Research
Stropharia mushrooms are nutrient rich, high in protein, amino acids, and minerals.
Improved overall nutrition, increased vitamin D levels, improved immune function and improved digestion.
In the journal Applied and Environmental Microbiology one study found stropharia to have the ability to attack the nematode Panagrellus redivivus, for more information read about nematophagous fungus.
Preparations & Uses
Only the fruiting bodies of the stropharia mushrooms are eaten. Be sure to identify the mushrooms before harvesting! They have a reddish-brown cap that changes from dark to light as the mushroom matures, there is a “king crown” ring around the stem and the stem is fibrous and full of air pockets.
Wine Cap stropharia mushrooms can simply be fried with a little butter and garlic, made into a sauce, great in stir fry, used in ristotto or pasta dishes, on sandwiches and burgers, in a stew, soup, pickled, a pate, in an omelette, ontop of mashed potatoes, on pizza…
Stropharia mushrooms are best used as a regular addition to your diet, especially as a source of protein if you are vegetarian / vegan.