2021 Foraging….

2021 has been a fruitful year for mushroom hunting! I typically prefer to grow my own but this year I have been on the hunt for the elusive Grifola frondosa, aka “Maitake” , aka “Hen of the Woods” here in MN…

Maitake is a mushroom that traditionally has been used in Japan and China as part of the diet and to treat diabetes and hypertension. Like other medicinal mushrooms, it contains a complex sugar called beta-glucan. In laboratory and human studies, maitake extract was able to stimulate various cells and factors in the immune system. Studies in animals show that it slows the growth of certain tumors and lowers blood sugar levels. More studies are being conducted to determine if maitake has the same effects in humans.

Wild maitake grow in the forest, particularly older forests. More often than not, they are found at the base of oak trees, especially dead or dying oaks or stumps. Occasionally, they’ll fruit from elms or maples. Because of their coloring, they tend to blend in very well with the leaf litter around them, so they can be challenging to spot from a distance.

I took a limited bit of knowledge and it applied it to a targeted forage and I had great success.

One of the Monster Maitake’s I found in 2021

I managed to fill up a Jeep full over a weekend, once you understand where to look, its amazing how plentiful it is here in MN.

Jeep Trunk Maxed out with Hens….

The one thing I did not want to do is waste all these great findings, so after giving away pounds to friends, I decided to try maitake jerky.. I started with this recipe: The 3 Foragers: Foraging for Wild, Natural, Organic Food: Hen of the Woods Recipe – Maitake Mushroom Jerky

First step in the maitake jerky was the prep… I used an entire grocery bag full… 16 dehydrator trays in total.
16 trays

I ended up buying the largest dehydrator I could find in town… 16 trays, seems to be enough for 1 extremely large hen.

The Raw mushrooms were about 1 full grocery bag full.

The Jerky ended up tasting great! Next batch I would prefer to have a little more spice, but not bad.

Now I am going to clone the monsters I found and start growing an Indoor MN strain… looking forward to that, I prefer the maitake beetle and spider free in my basement 😉

Another monster Maitake….

1979 Indian Moped

in 2017 I picked up this project, Around 1977 American Moped Associates (AMA) purchased the Indian trademark from bankruptcy court for $10,000. AMA designed the frame, bought the tooling and rights from Honda, and got Merida to produce it. That is how we ended up with the “Indian Moped” also referred to as the Indian AMI-50 Chief Moped.

Here is what I started with….

The first thing I did is to start collecting parts that I needed, and didn’t need 😉 One cool item was a part I didn’t need… some NOS mag wheels that were actually made for this moped back in the day. Some Indians had Sport Mag II cast aluminum wheels, made in Placentia CA USA. These were pretty much the only aluminum “mag” type wheel on any Indian mopeds originally sold is Southern California. For the rest of the country, the Mira Enterprises (Taiwan-made) aluminum wheels, that look like snowflakes, are the most common type of Indian moped “mag” wheel. This is easy to see in a Google image search for “indian moped”. Maybe, this was because American Moped Associates, in Irvine CA, had to unpack the bikes and swap the wheels with the local-made aluminum ones (that need all the brake and axle parts transferred from the old spoke wheels). So they only sold units with Sport Mag II wheels to local deliveries, while for far away deliveries they would sell the units with Mira snowflake wheels. 

Found these NOS Mags on Ebay….
New Mags fitted with some new whitewalls… required custom brake shoes.

After messing around it turned out my original gas tank built into the frame was leaking… So I had to find a donor… and crazy enough I did within a hundred miles on craigslist!

Donor Indian frame without leak… and extra parts/

It took about 3 years to gather parts (and find time) to get this thing running… but finally it has everything it needs to fire up.

Stay Tuned for the final results.

The Lab

In 2019 I started down the path to becoming an amateur mycologist… It all started with a simple grow your own mushrooms at home kit, not only was it fun, it was tasty. Being the obsessives compulsive person I am, one thing led to another.

One of the key components required is a good sterilizer, you need to sterilize all the materials used to grow, otherwise it will not be mushrooms growing 😉 after months of using a simple pressure cooker, I broke down and got a real machine…

All American 75x Sterilizer

The other key to being able to successfully grow mushrooms at home is having clean environment to work in, I stated using a sand blast box, but ultimately found a great deal on a used commercial grade Flow Hood.

Flow Hood for conducting sterile procedures

Next piece was a proper fruiting chamber, I ended up making my own humidifier and customized a cheap greenhouse from amazon.

So far I have been able to produce some amazing varieties of mushrooms that you can typically not find locally in stores.