Fungi for Thanksgiving!

| November 25, 2014 | 2 Replies

Fungi for Thanksgiving! Beyond attempting to identify various fungi that pop up in the Late Bloomer garden, I haven’t bothered to learn much of anything about fungi in my three years of gardening (I am a late bloomer). But this Thanksgiving week, fungi are all I’m thinking about!

Fungi for Thanksgiving! - oyster

Oyster mushrooms growing in Sumi’s garden – courtesy of Sumi @Growing Vegetables in Containers on Facebook

I’ve been introduced to the scientific work of mycologist Paul Stamets, and have watched several of his many videos on YouTube in the last few days. He believes that mushrooms can save our lives, restore our ecosystems and transform other worlds. That’s the most exciting news I’ve heard in a long time! Oh, and fungi can help the honeybees! “How Mushrooms can save bees & our food supply” was the first video I watched. After visiting the annual convention of state beekeepers last week and hearing once again about the plight of honeybees, this is very exciting stuff!

On TEDMED, Paul talks about the antimicrobial properties of fungi and how they can be used as potent insecticides and may boost the human immune system. He has a website, Host Defense, where you can order 100% organic mushroom supplements, as well as garden supplements and mushroom kits. In fact, we all need to be growing mycelium so we can to make up for what’s been lost in cutting down the old growth forests. Did you know the largest living organism on Earth is a fungi? To grasp the size of this mass, read here.

Fungi for Thanksgiving! - chaga

Wild forest chaga mushroom chunks

Ironically, I’ve had this information for a few months as a new Google+ garden pal sent me some chaga mushrooms he collected in a forest in Minnesota. I hadn’t gotten around to making tea from them till this week. “Known by the Siberians as the ‘Gift from God’ and the ‘Mushroom of Immortality,’ this vibrant growth has been used by humans to support health for thousands of years.” – Chaga Knowledge

Nearly every Thanksgiving meal at my house has included my Wild Rice Dish. It’s such an old recipe (I got it from a hostess at a dinner party I went to during college) it calls for cream of mushroom soup and canned mushrooms, neither of which I have used in decades. I’ve always used fresh cream and fresh mushrooms. This year, however, I am an empty-nester and will be eating out. But, I’ll share this yummy recipe here. Be warned, it’s not low-calorie!

Fungi for Thanksgiving! - recipe

Wild Rice with Mushrooms Recipe

Wild Rice Dish with Mushrooms

1 c. wild rice

1 c. celery sliced

1 c. onion chopped

8 slices bacon sliced

2 c. fresh cream

1 c. fresh mushrooms

1-2 tbl. Worchestershire sauce

Salt & Pepper


Mix everything together into a greased baking dish. Bake at 350° for 2 – 2 1/2 hours.

Check occasionally to make sure it’s not drying out. If so, add a little more cream or water.

Garnish with fresh chopped parsley. Goes great with turkey or duck!


If you can get your hands on Chicken of the Woods mushrooms – Laetiporus cincinnatus – they make a great substitute for meat, and would be wonderful for your meatless Thanksgiving meal. Not everyone can roam in the forest foraging for mushrooms, so see if your local farmers market has a mushroom vendor. This is where you will find the freshest and most varieties of edible mushrooms.

Fungi for Thanksgiving! - chicken mushroom

Wild forest Chicken of the Woods Mushroom – courtesy of DakotaBob10 on Google+

Many gardeners are now realizing the health benefit of adding mushroom spawn to their gardens, like Eric at Double Dog Farm on San Juan Island, who spread King Stropharia spawn over layers of red alder wood chips on his garden beds.

Fungi for Thanksgiving! - King Stropharia spawn

King Stropharia spawn produces edible mushrooms – photo courtesy of Double Dog Farm

If you buy mushroom supplements, be certain they are 100% organic, according to Paul Stamets. And if you are foraging, don’t eat any mushrooms unless verified by a mushroom expert that they are safe to eat.

I will be extremely grateful this Thanksgiving that I have discovered the groundbreaking work of Paul Stamets, and that I am connected to garden friends that share information, and fungi! One thing to remember, digging in your garden disrupts the strands of mycelium, so practice layering wood chips, leaf mulch, compost, wood ash, coffee grounds, ground egg shells, and let the magic happen! Not only will you be providing an hospital home for mycelium to grow, but you will save your back from a lot of hard work! If you want to speed up the process, purchase some spawn, or grow your own mushrooms.

Will you share your favorite mushroom recipe or remedy? Are you encouraging mycelium in your garden? Thanks for reading and I hope you have a Fungi Thanksgiving! – Kaye

PS – Check out the fungi popping up in the Late Bloomer Garden by clicking here. A great website for identifying California fungi is MykoWeb.

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Category: Fungi

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  1. Hi Kaye ,
    Great post . My own shitakes will be part of this year’s Thanksgiving feast . we cut the wood from trees I planted and innoculated them last winter with Oyster and Shitake . I will send a photo to share . The Shitake produced a lot but so far no Oyster. They are better than anything I have ever bought . I will use them in the gravy of the pastured chickens we raised (instead of a Turkey ) Do you have a recipe for the mushroom soup? I guess I could find one in some of my vintage cookbooks before they started saying a can of this or a box of that! I have always wanted to grow mushrooms but don’t have access to any expert for wild foraging and not sure I would trust someone who just says they are!Fascinating subject
    Enjoy eating out …I did it once but glad to have family to feed this year….. :)Sharon

    • Yes, eating out has it’s disadvantages, like getting a late reservation, then, gobbling it down because you are so tired of waiting! But, food was good. I would have to look as well for a mushroom soup recipe. For my rice, I just used whole cream and water and fresh mushrooms. I hope you had a wonderful meal with family. It sounds wonderful! I have a garden friend who is growing the oyster (that’s his photo) and is doing very well with it, but he’s a real scientist. – Kaye

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