A Newbie’s Complete Guide To Different Types Of Edible Mushrooms

By Kath Posted on 6/19/23

Edible mushrooms hold significant importance for foraging enthusiasts for several reasons:

First, edible mushrooms are a rich source of vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Hence, foraging enthusiasts can benefit from their nutritional value by incorporating them into their diet.

Second, edible mushrooms offer a wide range of tastes, textures, and aromas. This makes them a prized ingredient in various cuisines worldwide. This gives foraging enthusiasts the pleasure to grow their own mushrooms and use them in cooking.

Lastly, foraging for edible mushrooms promotes sustainability by utilizing natural resources that are abundant and renewable. This allows foraging enthusiasts to reduce their carbon footprint and dependence on commercial agriculture.

So, what are these edible mushrooms that foraging enthusiasts go crazy about? Read on to learn more. And if you’re excited to grow your own mushrooms, consider buying mushroom grow kits. They can make the cultivation process much easier.


Types of Edible Mushrooms

  1. Lion’s Mane (Hericium erinaceus)

The lion’s mane mushroom is known for its large, white, and shaggy appearance. It offers a mildly savory (yet sweet) flavor and a meaty texture similar to that of scallops, lobsters, and crabs.

  • How To Cultivate Lion’s Mane Mushrooms On Wood

Growing a lion’s mane is easy and convenient! First, choose a fresh hardwood log, such as oak or beech, that’s approximately three to six inches in diameter and 12 to 24 inches in length. Fresh logs are ideal because they have a higher moisture content.

Second, prepare the log. Using a drill with a 5/16-inch drill bit, drill holes into the log. Space the holes about two to three inches apart in a diamond or triangle pattern, both vertically and horizontally. Each hole should be approximately an inch deep.

Third, inoculate the log and seal the spawn. Place small pieces of the lion’s mane spawn into the drilled holes. To prevent contamination and retain moisture, seal the spawn-filled holes. You can use cheese wax or beeswax to cover each hole completely.

Then, water the log regularly to keep it moist, wait for colonization, and induce fruiting by stimulating favorable conditions. After that, you’re ready to harvest!


  1. Black Truffle (Tuber melanosporum)

Black truffle is one of the most flavorful wood mushrooms in the world. Many describe its taste as earthy, while others describe it as ‘funky’ or ‘musky.’ Regardless, it’s a luxurious, unique, and rich ingredient no one can ignore.

Black truffles have long been considered a priced gem in the culinary world. They’re used to enhance the flavor of many dishes, including meats, risotto, pasta, and even desserts.

  • How To Cultivate Black Truffle

Black truffles grow best in nutrient-poor, well-draining, alkaline soil. You may use a pH strip to check the soil’s pH level. If the soil’s pH is acidic (low pH), add more lime until the pH increases.

First, choose a healthy, mature tree of the appropriate species that’s at least five to 10 years old. Black truffles have a symbiotic relationship with certain tree species, such as oak, hazelnut, or hazel.

Second, prepare the log. Use a fresh log of the same species as the host tree. It should be approximately four to eight inches in diameter and 24 to 36 inches in length. Make sure the log is free from any signs of decay or contamination.

Third, inoculate the log. Using a sharp knife, make shallow cuts or slits in the bark. Insert small pieces of truffle-infected seedlings into the cuts, ensuring that the mycelium comes into contact with the log. Cover the cuts with a sealant, such as melted wax, to protect the mycelium.

Then, be patient and wait for the truffles to grow. After that, you’re ready to harvest! Since truffles grow underground, you’ll need trained truffle-hunting animals like dogs or pigs to locate and dig them up.


  1. Oyster Mushrooms (Pleurotus ostreatus)

Oyster mushrooms have a fan-shaped or shell-shaped cap with yellowish-white, decurrent gills and stout, short, hairy stems. Depending on the variant, they range from white to light brown to dark brown.

In terms of edibility, oyster mushrooms have a mild flavor and a velvety texture. You can have them raw, but you might not be able to digest them properly. So, it’s best to have them cooked before eating.

  • How To Grow Oyster Mushrooms On Logs

First, cut a log from a healthy tree. Choose a fresh hardwood log, such as oak, beech, or maple. It should be approximately three to six inches in diameter and three to four inches in length. Fresh logs are preferred as they have a higher moisture content.

Second, insert the plug spawn by gently tapping it with a hammer. Then, insert the sawdust spawn into every hole with an inoculation tool.

Third, seal the spawn-filled holes. You can use cheese wax or beeswax to cover each hole completely. Make sure the wax forms a tight seal to protect the spawn.

Fourth, maintain moisture. Oyster mushrooms require consistent moisture. Soak the log in water for 24 hours before initiating the cultivation process. Afterward, water the log regularly to keep it moist.

Then, induce fruiting, and you’re good to go! When the caps of the mushrooms are fully expanded and just before they begin to flatten out, carefully cut them off the log at the base. Harvesting at the right time ensures the best flavor and texture.

Close up of wild mushrooms growing on a log in a forest

  1. Maitake Mushroom (Grifola frondosa)

Also known as hen-of-the-wood, maitake mushroom is known for its wholesome taste and earthy aroma. It grows like a shelf at the base of softwood and hardwood trees, particularly oaks, and has a cluster of wavy mushroom caps.

Maitake mushrooms have a succulent texture, rich and woodsy taste, and distinct aroma. You can cook them as a cluster or chop them into small pieces to fit in any recipe. They’re great for main dishes, sides, and soups.

  • How To Grow Maitake Mushrooms On Logs

First, find a log—preferably oak species—and cut it into 8”x8”x11” for cultivation. Place it in a heat-resistant, autoclavable bag.

Second, treat the log by sterilizing it using a pressure cooker for two hours at 15 psi, steaming it for at least three hours, and boiling it for an hour. Then, let it cool for inoculation. Then, incubate the log for two to three months. After that, remove it from the bag and bury it in the ground. All you need to do is wait at least a year before harvesting.


  1. Reishi Mushroom (Ganoderma lucidum)

Also known as ‘lingzhi,’ reishi mushroom is a type of fungus that grows in the hot and humid regions of Asia. It’s a dark, giant mushroom with a woody texture and shiny exterior with a red-orange cap that resembles a kidney or a fan.

  • How To Grow Reishi Mushrooms On Wood

Growing reishi mushrooms is similar to other types of mushrooms. First, you need a log from a healthy tree. You may use logs with a length and diameter similar to the ones used when growing oyster mushrooms.

Second, prepare the log. Using a drill with a 5/16-inch drill bit, drill holes into the log. Space the holes approximately four to six inches apart, both vertically and horizontally. The holes should be around one-inch deep.

Third, inoculate the plug spawn with a hammer and the sawdust spawn with an inoculation tool. Wax the holes to prevent the inoculated spawn from drying out, and make sure it forms a tight seal to protect the spawn.

Fourth, provide proper growing conditions. Reishi mushrooms prefer a cool and shaded environment. Place the inoculated log in a shady and protected area, such as under a tree or in a garden shed. Avoid direct sunlight and extreme temperature fluctuations.

Then, wait for colonization and induce fruiting by keeping the temperatures low (15-24C) and the humidity high. After that, you’re ready to harvest!


  1. Chicken Of The Woods (Laetiporus species)

Chicken of the woods is another type of edible mushroom known for its huge, fan-like caps fading to pale ivory or yellow. It also has a solid, meaty texture that resembles that of the chicken—hence the name.

Chicken of the woods has a taste and texture similar to chicken. This makes it a great addition to soups, stews, stir-fries, skewers, and casseroles.

  • How To Cultivate Chicken Of The Woods

Chicken of the woods grows best on oaks and green ashes—hardwood trees. When cutting logs, consider the size of your pressure cooker, boiling container, and steamer. Then, place them in heat-resistant, autoclavable plastic bags.

Next, treat the bagged logs through a three-step process: sterilize them for two hours at 15 psi, steam them for at least three hours, and boil them for an hour.

Once treated, the logs can be inoculated with sawdust spawn. Incubate the logs for two to three months until they’re perfectly covered in mycelium. Then, bury them in the ground and wait for the mushrooms to grow beautifully.


  1. Nameko Mushrooms (Pholiota nameko)

Nameko is one of the most cultivated mushrooms in Japan due to its valuable medicinal and cancer-fighting properties. It’s a small mushroom with thin stems and smooth round caps. Because of its natural gelatin coating, it appears to be slimy and glossy on the outside.

Nameko has a subtle fruit-like taste and an earthy flavor and smells more like cashews and butterscotch. That’s why nameko is often called ‘butterscotch mushroom’ in many English-speaking countries.

  • How To Cultivate Nameko Mushrooms On Hardwood

Growing nameko mushrooms is similar to how you cultivate other types of mushrooms. First, you need a log from a healthy tree. It should have a diameter of three to eight inches and a length of 36 to 40 inches. Then, let it rest for a maximum of two weeks.

After resting, drill 50 holes with an inch depth, following a diamond pattern. Then, inoculate with plug and sawdust spawn and seal the inoculated holes with wax.

Afterward, you may incubate the logs and wait until the mushrooms grow. Make sure you irrigate them properly with a garden sprinkler, especially when they dry out.


  1. Enoki Mushroom (Flammulina velutipes)

Enoki mushroom, or golden needle mushroom, is a type of fungus that naturally grows on tree stumps. It’s a pale white mushroom with long, thin stems and small white caps.

Enoki mushroom is typically served cooked. It has a mild, slightly fruity, nutty flavor and a chewy, crunchy texture. Not only is it easy to cook, but it also works well with stir-fries, hotpots, noodles, soups, stews, and rice dishes.

  • How To Cultivate Enoki Mushrooms On Wood Chips

First, sterilize all your equipment to prevent contamination and prepare your growing medium. If you’re using hardwood chips or sawdust, soak them in hot water overnight to eliminate any unwanted microorganisms.

Then, mix your pasteurized substrate with your enoki spores. Use sterilized gloves when doing so to prevent contamination. Store it for two to three weeks in a high-humidity room with a temperature of around 23-25C.

Afterward, move the container to a cooler room to promote fruiting. The target temperature would be around 10-12C. Eventually, you’ll see small mushroom pins emerging from the mycelium. Let them grow, and they’ll be ready for harvest!


  1. Shiitake Mushroom (Lentinula edodes)

Shiitake mushrooms have a unique appearance. Their caps are typically brown to dark brown and have a convex shape when young, which flattens out as they mature.

The caps can range from small to large, depending on the variety and growing conditions. The undersides of the caps feature crowded, cream-colored to light brown gills from which the spores are released.

  • How To Cultivate Shiitake Mushrooms On Hardwood

First, choose a log from a healthy tree, preferably oak or maple. Cut the logs into three to eight inches in diameter and 36 to 40 inches in length.

Second, drill roughly 50 holes in the log, following a diamond pattern. Once done, inoculate the plug and sawdust spawn and seal them with wax to prevent contamination.

Third, incubate the logs and maintain sufficient moisture levels. Wait for your mushrooms to fruit and make sure to harvest them as soon as they’re ready—over-mature shiitake mushrooms may not last long.


Final Words

These are the mushrooms you can eat and grow on wood substrates, whether logs or hardwood chips. Each has its distinct taste, aroma, and texture and can be used in a wide range of dishes, from stew to soups to desserts.

Growing mushrooms is easy, convenient, and of course, rewarding. All you need to do is choose the mushroom you want to grow, follow the simple steps above, and you’ll have a sustainable source of food at home.

As a tip, always sterilize your tools and equipment before you start. This is to prevent contamination that may affect the texture and flavor profile of the mushroom.