First the disclaimer. I am in no way affiliated with Back to the Roots or their products and I’m not making money through this review. I’ve been curious about these kits for some time and have really wanted to try it. Finally, a couple weeks ago I picked up a kit, and it delivered! With that delivery came an issue, but I’m happy to report that the customer service at Back to the Roots took care of the issue with information and action, but I’ll get into that later.
If you’re not familiar, the Back to the Roots Mushroom Grow Kits are little boxes that you can grow mushrooms right inside of. They are small and compact, and they guarantee growth. This is the description from the Back to the Roots website:
The Back to the Roots Organic Mushroom Grow Kit is the easiest way to grow your own organic & gourmet mushrooms at home! Just open, spray daily with the included mister, and in 10 days you’ll be harvesting your own mushrooms right out of the box! The perfect holiday gift for foodie, garden-loving and eco-conscious friends & family.
Prior to starting I read the included instructions and also watched this video from the company. When I felt sufficiently confident with the instructions, we started them. The process went as expected with the mushrooms “pinning” after just a few days, and then doubling in size every day after, until they were large enough to harvest.
This is where we ran into a bit of an issue. I found mold on a couple of the mushrooms on the top of the bundle. I took a picture and sent it to their customer service just to ask if it was safe to cut these mushrooms off and eat the rest. Their customer service not only assured me that it would be safe to do so, but also offered to send another kit as well. This was something that I didn’t ask for, so that was a nice surprise. They also provided some advice; that I should put the grow kit somewhere with a little more airflow to prevent mold in the future.
Now, being the skeptic that I am I still researched more before consuming mushrooms from a bundle that had mold on it. I know that visible mold on bread or cheese is only the tip of the iceberg, with invisible mold spores running throughout the whole thing. With mushrooms though, if the mold is white there is a good chance that it is the mycelium of the mushrooms themselves. The mycelium is like the roots of the mushroom. I did indeed discard the mushrooms that had visible mold, but cooked up the rest.
I made the Pan Fried Mushrooms with Rosemary recipe from the Back to the Roots website. It turned out to be very delicious. My older daughter (10) even tried some, and really liked it. This was her first time trying mushrooms, so that was a big win. My younger daughter (8) is not there yet, but hopefully in the future she’ll give mushrooms a try in the future. We put this recipe into tortillas for some mushroom tacos, and they were great.
Now, this is a great product, and I’d give the product and the customer service 5 starts. But, this is a novelty, and not an affordable way to grow mushrooms. This was my first attempt at cultivating mushrooms, but it has certainly piqued my interest. I am going to get some books out of the library on mushroom cultivation, as I’m sure there are cheaper ways to do it with materials like straw, logs, woodchips, and mushroom spores. For what it is though, this kit is a great introduction to growing mushrooms, a fun activity kit that can generate interest in mushrooms for kids, and a fun and interesting novelty. I would recommend this kit!
If you are interested in learning more about mushrooms here are a couple of books I’ve really enjoyed (these books don’t have anything to do with cultivating mushrooms, just information about them):
Mycelium Running: How Mushrooms Can Help Save the World by Paul Stamets – This book is a great introduction to fungus and its important role in the ecosystem, and how it may be key to solving problems such as climate change and soil degradation. A great primer on the importance of an often overlooked life form!
The Rise of Yeast: How the Sugar Fungus Shaped Civilization by Nicholas P. Money – Money contends that yeast domesticated us, and not the other way around. As a winemaker and someone who generally likes a drink from time to time, this was an entertaining and informative book!
Resource for Pennsylvania/Northeast:
Learn Your Land – Learn Your Land has lots of great videos on edible mushroom foraging, many of them right here in Pennsylvania. When Covid eventually comes to pass, I hope to attend one of their events. They are a great learning resource! Thank you to Mark for letting me know about this great resource!
Do you have experience growing or foraging for mushrooms? Or do you have any experience with Back to the Roots products? If so, I’d love to hear about it in the comments! Best wishes and stay healthy!