After several years of experimenting, I am excited to reveal I have successfully grown several strains of Wood Blewitts, Clitocybe nuda (aka Lepista nuda), and got them to produce mushrooms, both on sterile sawdust, and in my garden.
What's so special about Blewitts? Flavour! Chefs from around the country have been begging me for these mushrooms, but until now, it has meant hunting for wild patches, which can be found in Winter, in diverse settings, such as Eucalypt forests, old apple and pear orchards, on the edge of Pine forests, and even among Lomandra by the coast.
Care must be taken when wild harvesting, as there are poisonous look alikes, such as Cortinarius....Once you know how to correctly identify Blewitts, you still need to exercise caution, as they can grow in the same location, at the same time, as the poisonous look alikes.
Why can't you buy Blewitts in the shops? Because no one has been able to reliably grow them on a commercial scale. I'm hoping to change that, as they are truly delicious-the smell as they cook is intense, and gives a hint to their flavour.
Note-never eat raw Blewitts! They are poisonous unless cooked. Cooking renders them safe and delicious. Most mushrooms should be cooked, as some are harmful raw (including shiitake, which can give you dermatitis), and most are indigestible by humans unless cooked.
How did I do it? Well, I collected various specimens, tissue cultured them on petri dishes, then grew them out on grain to create spawn. I then used the spawn to inoculate a range of substrates, from supplemented sawdust through to various compost mixtures. Once colonised, I took a bag of each, wrapped them in hessian sacks, and placed them in my garden. I also kept a bag of each aside to see if they would fruit in vitro. To my surprise, my garden erupted with Blewitts-a few the first year, lots more the following year. Even more of a surprise, some of the colonised bags also fruited! I chose those mushrooms to continue my experiments. Not all of the strains I worked with fruited, but the ones that did show great promise.
Would you like to grow these mushrooms at home? If so, you will need patience, learn how to identify both Blewitts and Purple Cortrinarius, and from my understanding, cold weather (not sure how cold, but they appear here after frosts)...if you're growing in containers, you could use the fridge/freezer. A simple method is to make or buy spawn (dowel or sawdust is great), and use this to inoculate a mix of pasteurised leaf litter and woodchips. Pasteurising isn't essential, but it will kill any insects, and give your spawn a head start.