Maitake Mushroom Kit Looks Odd
Answered by: Inge Poot
Question from: Kathy Cazes
Posted on: June 2, 1998

I just received the maitake mushroom log. How is it supposed to look? It looks odd--very white, lumpy, moldy, like white cheese with golden stuff on it. I’ve never seen anything that looks like this, so I wanted to be sure it’s right before I invest months trying to make it grow!

The mycelium of most mushrooms is white and that is what is covering the log. The mycelium consists of intertwined thin white strings called hyphae and represent the bulk of the mushroom. When this hyphal mass is happy and the conditions and the time is right, it will produce a fruiting body. In maitake it starts out as a grey-brown or beige mass that turns almost black. This mass then sends up tightly appressed leaf-like growths that end up looking like a grey or black califlower. The edges of this fruiting body will feel soft to the touch but when harvested and dried the whole fruiting body becomes woody.

Differences in humidity and temperature produce the different shades of the fruiting body. Occasionally the hyphal mass will produce droplets of yellow liquid and this may be what you are seeing. If the hyphal lumps don’t turn beige or grey but remain a bright yellow it may be another fungus germinating on top of the desired maitake. You may then have to touch the yellow hyphae with a cotton swab dipped into javex and then hope the maitake will take over.

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