Paddy straw mushroom (Volvariella volvacea) also known as straw mushroom or the Chinese mushroom is an edible mushroom of tropics and subtropics. It is one of the fastest growing mushrooms and in favorable conditions can complete a crop cycle in 2 weeks. In commercial cultivation, paddy straw along with cotton waste is usually used as the growing substrate. As such it is one of the easiest mushrooms to cultivate as it normal out grows any possible contaminant molds. It has a much lowercompared to many other mushrooms at just 30-40%, hence it is a better choice for areas where the growing substrate is cheap and abundantly available. Another notable feature its very short shelf life of 48 hours from harvesting, making it necessary to quickly market and consume the mushroom on harvesting with the only other alternative being canning or drying to increase its shelf life.
The fruiting body is divided into six different stages each with its own physical characteristics:
- Pinhead stage– Also known as the primordia stage, it develops when the come togather and is the first stage of mushroom development.
- Tiny button stage-
- Button stage
- Egg stage
- Elongation stage
- Mature stage
When it comes to harvesting Paddy straw Mushrooms, while all stages are edible, they are usually harvested at Button or Egg stage. This is due to these 2 stages having the longest shelf life of 48 hours. The more mature stages have only a 24 hour shelf life.