Getting the most from your Shiitake mushroom log

Shiitake mushroom logs in the woods at half Hill Farm

Last night looks like the last of forecasted freezing temperatures for early Spring here in Middle Tennessee. If you have one of our Shiitake mushroom logs marked SP15 (Spring 2015) or earlier, now is the time to prep your log for an early Spring flush.

Shocking logs: Get a five gallon bucket and fill it with rain water or water from a nearby creek and then soak your log for 24 hours. Place the log in a wooded area with roughly 80% shade. You can place it under a bush near your house’s North side if you do not have woods. If you have more than one log, use a larger tub like the one pictured above. The water should not be chlorinated tap water and should be very cold. This hard soak and cold temperature followed by the gradual warming of outdoor Spring temps will “shock” the mycelium into “pinning,” the beginning stages of mushrooms.

Pinning: Each pin that forms pushes through the bark as you see pictured above and will develop into the beginnings of a mushroom within 2-3 days followed by a rapidly growing mushroom over a five day period. Depending on the weather throughout Spring, you could experience 2-3 natural cycles of mushrooms with roughly two week resting periods between each flush.

Harvest: Once you start to see the mushrooms unfurl their outer edge (typically tucked under the mushroom cap), it is time to pick mushrooms. At this point, the mushroom is in the early phase of releasing its spore. Simply cut them off at the log, brush off any debris and either eat them fresh, store them in the fridge for up to two weeks, or dry them to use for months to come.

How to purchase: Each Shiitake mushroom log from Half Hill Farm produces up to 90% of the log’s dry weight in mushrooms over a 3-5 year period. You can purchase your own inoculated logs from 15 lbs. one foot logs up to 50+ lbs. four feet logs at our farm here in Woodbury, TN. Just give us a call and let us know you’re coming!

RECIPE: Shiitake mushroom soup


A 5 lbs. mid-Winter harvest of organic Shiitake mushrooms from Half Hill Farm.

Once your Shiitake logs from Half Hill Farm start producing mushrooms, you can dry them, store some in the fridge for a couple weeks, or eat them! That’s exactly what we did using the following recipe and an unexpected January harvest.

There’s a lot you can do with your Shiitake mushrooms and a lot of good stuff it will do for you. One recent study, for example, shows medicinal compounds in Shiitake mushrooms can eradicate HPV, a virus that causes 99% of all cervical cancer, 95% of anal cancer, 60% of oropharyngeal cancer, 65% of vaginal cancer, 50% of vulvar cancer, and 35% of penile cancer. Here’s more research on this and other mushrooms we grow, and here’s our recipe for how to make some Pho-tastic Shiitake mushroom soup.

Shiitake Mushroom Soup

  • 2 cups chopped Shiitake mushrooms
  • cubed tofu
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 4 tbsps of fresh grated ginger
  • chives
  • cilantro
  • 4 cups chopped Napa cabbage
  • rice noodles (or rice & quinoa)
  • 8 cups of chicken or vegetable broth
  • soy sauce (or Bragg’s) & lemon to flavor

You can use either rice noodles or a little rice and quinoa. Either way, cook these first and set them aside. You won’t need much – about a total of half a cup if using rice/quinoa.

Put a little olive oil in the soup pot you plan to use and cook your cubed tofu. When complete, stir-fry the chopped garlic cloves and ginger with the cooked tofu. This takes a couple minutes. Now add the broth, mushrooms and either noodles or rice/quinoa. Let this simmer for 20 minutes and then add the Napa cabbage and let simmer for five more minutes before serving.

Place a little chopped cilantro and chives in a bowl and fill the bowl with soup. Add a generous squirt of soy sauce or Bragg’s and a squeeze of a couple lemon wedges and enjoy!

Turn your storm damaged trees into mushrooms


This lightning struck White Oak became several Shiitake mushroom logs.

It’s always fortunate when the only damage from a storm is to property. Sometimes that includes damage to favorite old trees that in a matter of hours is reduced to firewood.

If you had a White Oak, Red Oak, Hickory or Sweet Gum tree that recently fell victim to storm damage, we can help you cut it up and remove as much as we can safely. We aren’t a professional tree service, but we can work with a tree service of your choice or cut up 4 inch or greater diameter logs they leave for us. In exchange for the logs we take, we will bring you a few of the logs inoculated with edible gourmet Shiitake mushrooms.

The inoculated logs will grow 90% of their dry weight in mushrooms over the next 3-5 years and keep decades of sequestered carbon in their tissue from re-entering the atmosphere as burned fire wood. You basically get some logs removed, create a healthy super food source (like this amazing bowl of soup) for your family and help address climate change. It’s a win-win-win!

If you want to turn your storm damaged tree into mushrooms anywhere within an hour from Woodbury or Murfreesboro, TN, give us a call at 615-469-7778.

RECIPE: Garlic Scape Pesto

Around the end of May through mid June, some of our organic Western Rose garlic (and most any hard-neck garlic) send up flowering shoots called scapes. This usually means the bulbs are forming and that harvest is not too far behind.

We cut the scapes off to force the plant to send its energy to the bulb, remove the flowering top and use them much like chives in food. They have an amazing fresh flavor that isn’t as strong as garlic.

Here’s a very simple recipe for garlic scape pesto we enjoyed (pictured above). If local growers have them, they’ll be at your farmer’s market right now. We hope to have more next year.

1/2 cup garlic scapes
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/4 cup pine nuts
3/4 cup basil
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp fresh lemon juice
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Toast pine nuts in a skillet. Blend toasted pine nuts with garlic scapes, cheese, basil, and lemon juice in a food processor adding olive oil until smooth. Salt to taste.

Half Hill Farm receives USDA organic certification


Organic cilantro awaits a late planting at Half Hill Farm.

(Woodbury, TN) — Half Hill Farm has become one of Cannon County’s first farms to receive USDA organic certification. Half Hill Farm is a small seven acre farm growing certified organic apples and blueberries with mushroom and hop production starting this year.

Half Hill Farm was created by former Short Mountain Distillery COO Christian Grantham and his partner Vince Oropesa and certified by Quality Certification Services of Florida. Grantham hopes the new venture will provide the community with healthier and sustainable food choices.

“Our community’s nationally recognized taste for good food and drink is just one way Woodbury’s craft heritage continues to shine,” Grantham said. “Dedication to inspected organic farm practices is one way I think local farmers can play an important and responsible role in elevating our Southern food culture.”

Recent changes in state law have inspired a craft brewing renaissance in Tennessee with no local growers of hops, beer’s main bittering and aromatic ingredient. Half Hill Farm is proud to serve the state’s craft brewers as Tennessee’s first organic hops grower.

“As a home brewer, I appreciate what it takes to make a good hand-crafted beer,” Grantham said. “We’re excited to support some of the state’s very best craft brewers with sustainable organic Cascade and Centennial hops.”

Organic farming practices focus on sustainable food production methods that condition and improve the life of our planet’s soil while producing healthier food choices. These practices (cover crops, composting, no-till methods) decrease dependence on harmful inputs and energy use while harnessing the power of nature’s perfect design.

“The idea with organic farming is having high quality foods available for local residents, then the excess can be available for out of town markets,” said Pamela Hoskins, District Conservationist with USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service. “I have always thought that Cannon County is the perfect location for organic growers because of the close proximity to urban areas.”

Shiitake and Maitake (Hen of the Woods) mushroom production at the farm starts later this summer with fresh and dried available in the Fall. Half Hill Farm is also growing limited amounts of organic spinach, garlic, onions, tomatoes (Roma, Giant Beef Steak, Lemon Drop, Kellogg’s Breakfast), peppers (Serrano, Jalapeno, Beaver Dam, Sweet Pickle Peppers, Peperoncini, California Wonder, Orange Bell, Anaheim), herbs (cilantro, basil, dill), cucumber, carrots and soy beans (Shirofumi and Agate).

Learn more about Half Hill Farm on FaceBook at http://facebook.com/HalfHillFarmTN.