Mushrooms are packed with goodness and health

 Dr. Rekha Mehrotra, Dr. Kohinoor Kaur, Dr. Richa Sharma 

Department of Microbiology Shaheed, Rajguru College of Applied Sciences for Women University of Delhi

Mushrooms have been widely used for their great taste and flavour in many different recipes since ages. These days, mushroom recipes have become a delicacy in the vegetarian menu. There are a variety of edible mushrooms that are cultivated worldwide. A few of the common ones are button, oyster, king oyster, shiitake, paddy straw and milky mushroom. Each type of mushroom has its own  distinct texture, aroma and taste. They are not only tasty by themselves but also blend well with other vegetables and seasonings. In addition to being tasty, mushrooms also offer several medicinal benefits to consumers. They, therefore make for an excellent addition to your daily diet.

We list below several of their health benefits:

    • Mushrooms are a storehouse of nutrition
    • Mushrooms help lower blood pressure
    • Mushrooms boost the immune system
    • Mushrooms are great for weight loss
    • Eat mushrooms – stay young forever
    • Mushrooms protect your brain as you age and boost your memory
    • Mushrooms help your heart health
    • Mushrooms strengthen your bones
    • Mushrooms work as anti-depressants
    • Mushrooms have anti-cancer properties
    • Mushrooms are great for diabetes
    • Mushrooms support gut health

Mushrooms can protect your liver

Types of Edible Mushrooms

Button Mushroom

Pink Oyster Mushroom

Black Oyster Mushroom

Oyster Mushroom

King Oyster Mushroom

Cultivation of Button Mushroom


Agaricus bisporus, the white button mushroom, is the most popular edible mushroom and the most widely grown one  in India. It is cultivated seasonally during winters particularly in the hilly regions of the country and the plains of North India. It is grown throughout the year in commercial units spread in all parts of the country. Cultivation of this mushroom requires good knowledge of preparation of compost and crop management practices. Also needed is a good understanding of  the manipulation of environmental conditions like carbon dioxide content, temperature and humidity during cropping.

The cultivation of button mushroom involves the following steps :

  • Compost is a specially prepared substrate which is a product of fermentation by a number of thermophilic organisms that decompose plant residues and other organic and inorganic matters. The main purpose of composting is to release the nutrients in the straw and supplements and to transform them in such a way that they are suitable for the nutrition of this mushroom. There are two methods for the preparation of compost – Long method and short method. The long method that takes about 28 days and is an older method that involves a single phase. The short method on the other hand is a two phase method, that involves the preparation of compost in two stages – the first one outside (Phase-I) and the rest of the compositing is done inside the pasteurization chamber (Phase-II). The compost is generally prepared by using straw, manure, gypsum, etc. Numerous formulations have been developed for making the compost. A carbohydrate material (carbon source) is required; typically this can be wheat, paddy or any other cereal straw, sugarcane bagasse, sugarcane leaves, mustard stalks, soybean straw, corn cobs, or any other such material. A nitrogen source is also necessary. This is usually in the form of  chicken manure/wheat bran, brewer’s grains, various bran cakes or fertilizers. Minerals are provided by the addition of superphosphate or muriate of potash. The right texture and pH of compost is obtained by adding gypsum.
  • Spawning – Spawn is the mycelium of the fungal culture grown onto a substrate. It can be considered as the ‘seed’ or ‘inoculum’ of a mushroom. Spawning is the process of mixing the spawn with compost. After spawning the compost bags are shifted to the cropping room or mushroom house for the spawn run. Spawn run means that the mycelium from the spawn will start growing and colonising the substrate. It takes around 10 days under good environmental conditions (temperature: around 24oC, relative humidity: 80-85%, high CO2 concentration).
  • Casing is the process of spreading a 3-4 inch specially prepared layer on  top of the growth of spawn in  the compost bags. This casing material is required for inducing fruiting of the mushroom. Casing material is a mixture of garden loam soil, coco peat and spent compost in the ratio of (1:1:1).
    • After casing, the temperature of the cropping room should be maintained at 24oC with relative humidity of 85-90%.
    • It takes 8-10 days for the case run to take place ie. white mycelium spreads over the casing soil.
    • After the case run; change the environmental parameters to induce pinhead formation. The temperature is brought down to 16oC with a relative humidity of 85% and low CO2 Lowering of CO2 levels can be done by introducing fresh air into the room.
    • Pinhead is the small white structure which is the initial stage of fruiting. Pinheads start appearing within 7-10 days.
    • High humidity is required at this stage. The casing soil should be kept moist. This can be achieved by light sprays of water over it twice a day. Good ventilation is also required
    • Pinheads develop into mature button mushrooms in the next 2-4 days. Mushrooms that are 4-5 cm diameter with a hard pileus ( top) and closed veil should be harvested.
    • They are harvested by holding them between forefinger and thumb and rotating in a clockwise or anticlockwise direction, or by a twisting motion. The soiled stem portion is removed by cutting with a sharp
    • The next flush or crop of mushrooms can also be harvested after 7-10 days if similar conditions of temperature, humidity and carbon dioxide are maintained. In general, 3- 5 flushes can be obtained in a 4-6 weeks’ time.