Mushroom kits have become pretty popular lately, but not all of them work equally well. I was super curious, so I bought a few Back to the Roots organic oyster mushroom kits to give them a try.
Here’s my honest review of the regular kit and pink oyster mushroom kit, including a day-by-day documentation of the growing process.
How to Set the Box Up
The Back to the Roots organic oyster mushroom kit comes with everything you need. You’ll get the block of mushroom starter (substrate), a mini spray bottle, and a pamphlet with instructions.
To set up your kit, you’ll want to cut an X into the plastic bag encasing the substrate. I found it easier to pull the bag out of the box and use a sharp knife to cut the X instead of using scissors.
After that, you want to use a fork to lightly scratch the substrate. I just made a criss-cross pattern in the thin white layer over the soil.
From there, you set the bag face-down in a bowl of water for 6-10 hours. I’ve also left it in overnight.
After soaking, you can shake off the excess water and place it back in the box to grow! The substrate may be covered with a transluscent goo-like substance after soaking, and that’s totally normal.
Growing the Mushrooms
You’re supposed to spray the substrate twice a day, with 5-6 sprays at a time. I ended up spraying 8 times each time I “watered” the mushrooms (twice per section of the X), and I sometimes sprayed more frequently if I noticed that the substrate or mushrooms seemed dry. Since the flaps of the plastic bag opened pretty widely on my kit, the moisture escaped more easily. If your bag flaps stay mostly closed, you may not need to spray as often.
The mushrooms grow extremely quickly, and it’s fun to follow their progress. Within a day, I saw a pink mold-like substance appear on the pink oyster mushroom substrate. The regular oyster mushrooms seemed a bit slower to grow, but I also eventually saw a white mold in a couple days. This mold is what becomes the mushrooms. You’ll see the mushroom caps a day or two after you see the mold, and they’ll double in size each day.
You’re supposed to leave the mushrooms in indirect sunlight, such as facing slightly away from a window. The more sunlight they get, the deeper their color. In warmer temperatures, they’ll grow faster but will have a lighter color. If you want larger mushroom caps, you’ll want to find a place with good air flow.
The whole process is supposed to take 10-12 days, but I was able to harvest mine within one week. By that point, the mushrooms had reached full size and were starting to dry out without the protection of the plastic cover.
Here’s a day-by-day look at the progress of my pink oyster mushroom kit:
Day 0 (after soaking)
To the right of the box, you can see the tiny spray bottle that comes with the kit.
Took the mushroom kit on a road trip since I didn’t want them to dry out in my absence haha.
Day 6: Harvest and Cook
I cut the mushrooms off the substrate and sauteed them with olive oil, garlic, salt, pepper, and green onions.
And here’s a look at the regular oyster mushroom kit:
I didn’t document this process as fully as the pink mushrooms since it was fairly similar, but a couple days longer.
These were growing out of the corners, so I had to rip open the box a bit.
The mushrooms got too heavy to stand upright, so I placed them down on the backside. Towards the bottom, you can see that my box had a weird gap where no mushrooms grew.
The mushrooms started drying out, so I knew it was time to harvest.
Is the Back to the Roots Mushroom Kit Worth it?
I had no problems growing the mushrooms and found it fairly reliable in the 3 kits I’ve grown myself or seen my friends grow. You don’t have to be good at taking care of plants (fungi?) at all. I usually kill my plants, but managed to keep the mushrooms alive until harvest.
The only potential sore point is the price. On their website, a single kit retails at $25, though it’s sometimes on sale for $20. A two-pack runs you $50 (sometimes on sale for $40), a three-pack is $75 (sometimes $63), and a four-pack is $100 (sometimes as low as $65). This doesn’t include shipping, but it’s usually free over $50 and around $7 otherwise in the US.
The kits are said to produce up to one and a half pounds of mushrooms total with at least 2 crops. Once you finish the first crop, you can grow from the other side. Make sure to place the substrate in a fully-sealed Ziploc bag to conserve the moisure, if you plan to “take a break” between the two crops.
I started my second crop of the pink mushrooms immediately, and I ended up removing the plastic bag altogether and trying to grow from all sides. I just covered the substrate in a clear plastic bag when I wasn’t spraying it.
I probably didn’t even get 1 pound total with the pink oyster mushrooms. My first crop was maybe 1/4 pound, and I was able to grow a very small second crop, but it had just a few mushroom caps. I left the substrate with my parents, and they said it grew a third very small crop. With the regular kit, I got nearly double the amount of mushrooms on the first crop (I have yet to try growing a second crop).
$25 for about 1 pound of mushrooms (maybe not even that) is really not a great deal, as you can get that in grocery stores for about half the price (though the mushrooms are organic and may have a higher retail price). You could also set up your own mushroom growing kit for cheaper, but I’m not well-versed in that at all, so I appreciated how easy this kit was. You’re basically paying for the experience and convenience with the Back to the Roots kit. I also appreciate that Back to the Roots is a B Corp, so they’re dedicated to social responsibility.
In fact, Back to the Roots actually donates a kit to an underserved classroom if you share on social and tag @BacktotheRoots with the hashtag #growonegetone. You can fill out their donation form once you’ve done that.
All in all, this would be a great activity to do with kids, in a classroom, or as adults, like me. It’s a bit pricey, but it’s fun to follow the progress of the mushrooms, so it’s worth the money in my opinion.
Where to Buy the Mushroom Kit
This section contains affiliate links, meaning that I may earn a small commission on any purchases at no cost to you. If this review helped you, it would mean a lot if you purchased through my links!
You’ll find the best deals on Amazon, as a single kit is $15-17, but I encourage you to shop directly or from a local store if you can. I don’t even get paid if you shop directly, as they don’t have an affiliate program yet. I just think it’s great to support small businesses when possible.
Funnily enough, I’ve also seen some kits on Poshmark and Mercari (secondhand clothing apps). I guess people get them and never end up using them. If you’re using Poshmark for the first time, I have a $10 off referral code. You can usually find cheaper prices here, but it could be riskier since there’s no guarantee that the substrate will still work. I would ask the seller for how long they’ve had the kit.
I hope this review helped you decide whether the kit is right for you or not. Have you tried the kit yourself? Let us know what you thought!