I used this kit to grow mushrooms in my kitchen
We put Back to the Roots Organic Pink Oyster Mushroom Grow Kit to the test.
Recommendations are independently chosen by Reviewed’s editors. Purchases you make through our links may earn us a commission.
I first discovered mushroom grow kits on the Instagram of Sophia Roe, a New York City-based chef and welfare advocate. She shared a photo of her prickly little fungi friends one day, mentioning that she was growing mushrooms herself at home. I was intrigued and amazed.
A quick Google search revealed that I, too, could grow mushrooms in the comfort of my kitchen. I ordered a Pink Oyster Mushroom Grow Kit from Back to the Roots. Here’s what happened when I tried growing mushrooms on my countertop.
About Back to the Roots
Founded by Alejandro Velez and Nikhil Arora after discovering mushrooms can grow from coffee grounds, Back to the Roots is a certified organic garden brand dedicated to educating a new generation of gardeners and home chefs. Its mission is “to reconnect every family and kid back to where food comes from by helping them experience the magic of growing it themselves—no green thumb or backyard needed.”
Back to the Roots organic gardening products include seed packets and indoor grow kits, like the Pink Oyster Mushroom kit I ordered. These indoor gardening kits are great for folks cooking at home like me, or for those looking for kid-friendly projects, in the classroom or at home. The company claims that each mushroom grow kit can grow up to two crops.
What are pink oyster mushrooms?
Pink oyster mushrooms, or Pleurotus djamor, are a tropical strain of oyster mushrooms that thrive in warm weather. You can use pink oysters in any dish that calls for mushrooms, or sautee them simply in a cast-iron skillet with olive oil, salt, and pepper for a satisfying side. They taste earthy, with an almost seafood-like pungency, and have a meaty texture.
What’s included in the mushroom grow kit?
Back to the Roots mushroom grow kits arrive in a rectangular box filled with a bag that contains organic plant-based substrate infused with mushroom spawn. Each kit costs between $20 to $25 on Amazon, and you can choose from pearl oyster, pink oyster, or a surprise 3-pack mushroom grow kit available on the Back to the Roots website (this option costs $59.99).
The box also contains a brochure with instructions, activities, recipes, and a small spray bottle to hydrate the kit twice a day for about six days.
What’s not included?
The only thing not included in this kit is water, plus the cooking implements and ingredients you’ll use when you're ready to eat your homegrown mushrooms.
How it works
I set the brochure aside and examined the rectangular block of organic plant waste, covered with creamy white spores inside a large plastic pouch. The brownish block of organic plant waste fills up most of the pouch, with a small flap on the top of the box that’s folded back.
I lifted the flap and this where the instructions were a tad bit confusing—I was unsure whether I needed to remove the block from the pouch and soak it in water for 6 to 10 hours or cut through the plastic and submerge the block while it was still inside the bag. I re-read the instructions, but they didn’t make the start-up process any more clear.
After reading online reviews, I opted for the method that would compromise the kit the least. I cut through the pouch with a small knife, making a x-shaped incision on one side. I scrapped and smudged the spores with my knife, then submerged the block in a tub of water for 10 hours.
I sprayed the kit seven to eight times per day for an entire week, as per the instructions. My kit produced mushrooms within seven days, as promised, and I was able to harvest about one and a half cups of mushrooms.
My method worked after all, but Back to The Roots would do us all a significant favor by making its instructions clearer and condensing the amount of text on the box and in the brochure.
Growing a second crop
I attempted to grow a second crop, as the website said was possible, but my kit didn't yield anything further. A blue-green mold started to grow toward the bottom right corner of the organic waste block.
Although the box the kit comes in is recyclable and the block itself is compostable, I couldn’t dispose of every single part of the packaging in an eco-friendly way. I also don’t have a compost bin, so everything ended up in the trash.
Cooking with pink oyster mushrooms
I pan-fried my pink oyster mushrooms in grapeseed oil with salt, black pepper, soy sauce, and sesame oil. They turned a deeper pink color when cooked, with a crisp outside and tender flesh that reminded me of grilled hotdogs.
To serve, I laid the mushrooms onto soft flour tortillas that I’d warmed in a separate pan, and topped with dill pickles. I love playing with textures, and this pink oyster mushroom taco definitely satisfied that need. The sourness of the pickles balanced the crisp, salty mushrooms and soft tortillas.
Should you buy a mushroom grow kit?
If you’re interested in growing your own mushrooms for cooking, this kit could be great for you. This grow kit could also be perfect for parents that’ve been homeschooling since the pandemic struck or for teachers who’ve returned to their classrooms.
And if you do opt to purchase one, make sure to share a photo on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook with the tag @BacktotheRoots and #GrowOneGiveOne in order to participate in the brand’s Grow One, Give One program. Back to the Roots will donate one kit to the classroom of your choice!
Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.