Pekepeke-Kiore is the NZ native Lion’s Mane Mushroom and I had never even heard of it a month ago, let alone contemplated growing it.
I have recently become very interested in functional mushrooms and their health-promoting benefits. Hippocrates said “Let food be thy medicine, let medicine be thy food” and I had come across several recipes for using various mushrooms. Most of the favoured mushrooms are only available as powdered supplements here so I was keen to see if there were any alternative varieties that are available in NZ.
Lion’s mane mushrooms are large, white, shaggy mushrooms that resemble a lion’s mane as they grow. They are a source of natural bioactive compounds, which are health-promoting chemicals founds in certain foods and plants. These compounds have many beneficial effects on the body, especially the brain, heart, and gut. The mushrooms have been used for both culinary and medicinal purposes for centuries, particularly in Asia. However, the varieties of mushrooms that are commonly used overseas are not usually found in NZ and can’t be imported (other than as powders) due to NZ’s strict bio-security measures.
After a bit of searching I discovered that there are some NZ native mushrooms that are similar to the overseas varieties. Although there are no conclusive studies (yet?) demonstrating that they have the same medicinal benefits as their overseas cousins, mushrooms have great nutritional benefit regardless so can certainly be used as substitutes in cooking.
Mushrooms By the Sea have grow your own kits for a range of different mushrooms. I have previously grown oyster mushrooms and button mushrooms at home so thought it would be fun to try something completely different – Pekepeke-Kiore, the native Lion’s mane mushroom. As luck would have it, there was a special on and free delivery of the kit – which arrived very promptly and ready to go (complete with instructions).
Growing them really couldn’t be any easier (with the kit at least). The growing medium with spores in it arrives wrapped in plastic and taped shut. You simply cut a slit in the marked spot and leave it in a warm spot indoors that has plenty of air movement and is out of direct sunlight – mine is in the bathroom.
After a couple of weeks you will start to see growth coming through the slit in the plastic.
Over the next 2-3 weeks (depending on temperatures) the lion’s mane mushroom grows quite rapidly until it is almost the size of the starting pack. It is like no other mushroom I’ve ever seen and looks more like a giant bath sponge or piece of coral.
As it matures it turns from cream to slightly pinkish in colour as the tips darken, and the growth slows down again.
Harvesting involves taking the mushroom with both hands and just pulling it out of the bag. Done! 450g of mushroom ready to try in some cooking – see my next post.
You should also be able to get a further one or two harvests from the same kit.