Growing Mushrooms: PF Tek

Picture of Growing Mushrooms: PF Tek
This instructable will go over one of the most basic grow techniques (PF Tek) for growing a wide variety of mushrooms including Shaggy Mane, Lion's Mane, and P. Cubensis.

Video of some time lapses that I've done
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Step 1: Supplies to begin

Picture of Supplies to begin
To begin growing your own mushrooms you will need the following for the PF tek:

-Pressure cooker
Check thrift stores such as savers and goodwill, also browse your local craigslist.org listings for a cheap pressure cooker, my 8 quart set me back $50, the single most expensive peice of equipment to begin growing.

-Organic brown rice flour
I found the rice flour at Sprout's grocery, any health food or organic food store should sell this.

Found at nurseries, skip the big home improvement stores

I found perlite at Home Depot, but this can also be picked up with the vermiculite at a nursery

-Canning jars (Ive seen 1/2 pint used alot, as well as 8oz and 250mL jars)
Safeway, but any department store, even craft stores. Be sure to use wide mouthed tapered jars! To find out why check step 11

-Spore Syringe
Can be found online, or local shops, depending on species that you wish to grow

-Aquarium/Terrarium/Large tupperware (for humidity chamber)
I found a nice medium sized aquarium for $9 at a thrift store

-Hammer and Nail

-Aluminum foil

- Alcohol lamp or lighter

Step 2: Preparing your jars for spore syringes

Picture of Preparing your jars for spore syringes
Spore syringes are the easiest way to get started growing mushrooms with this technique. They can be ordered online from a variety of sources.

To prepare your jars, you will need a hammer and nail.

Remove the jar lid and lay the flat lid rubber side up on a table. Take a nail and make 2 - 4 holes evenly spaced around the edge.

NOTE: In the pictures I put holes through the jar lids facing the wrong way ... with the rubber side down. The sharp edge around the hole can tear the foil in the next few steps.

Step 3: Mix the substrate

Picture of Mix the substrate
The substrate is what the fungus will feed off of. It will consist of brown rice flour, vermiculite and water. First, take the dry ingredients and mix them in a bowl. After they are well mixed add the water.

For 12x 250mL (~8oz):

-9 cups vermiculite
-3 cups brown rice flour
-3 cups water

For my mixing bowl I halfed the amounts above and mixed only half the substrate at a time.

I have heard of adding 'worm castings' (earthworm poop) to substrate to give better flushes of mushrooms.

Step 4: Fill the jars

Picture of Fill the jars
Once your substrate is well mixed and moist, begin filling your prepared jars with the substrate. Don't pack the mixture down, just loosely fill the jar.

Leave about 1/2 inch of space between the substrate and the top of the jar. I just filled my jars up to the threading for the lid.

Be sure to wipe up any moisture/substrate on the 1/2" inside and outside the jar.

Fill the rest of the jar with dry vermiculite. This is to make a barrier between the substrate and contaminants in the air.

Step 5: Get your jars ready for sterilizing

Picture of Get your jars ready for sterilizing
Now close up all your jars, with the rubberside facing upwards (upside down from how they were designed)
Place a square of foil over the lid covering the holes and sealing the jar from contaminants in the air. Crumple it down nice and tight, forming it around the jar lid.

Put about 3 inches of water in your pressure cooker and place as many jars as you can, stacking them if you have to.

I had no problem putting jars directly on the bottom of the cooker, but I have seen people put old canning jar rings in the bottom to help prevent jars from cracking.

READ your pressure cooker's manual if you have it! It can be a dangerous tool if improperly used.

Step 6: Sterilization

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Close up your cooker and put it on a stove. I used a BBQ side stove to keep heat out of the house.

Start the stove up and wait until the pressure regulator (the ball/weight on top of the cooker) starts shaking. This is around 11-15psi depending on the manufacturer.

Let the jars and substrate sterilize for about an hour.

Once the hour is up, let the cooker stand for about 3 hours to cool down, you can also sterilize in the evening and let it cool down overnight.

Step 7: Inoculation

Picture of Inoculation
Inoculation is the process of introducing spores of your chosing into the sterilized substrate to take hold and grow.

In this step, be sure to take precautions to prevent contamination of the jars!!

Leave the jars in the pressure cooker until you are ready to Inoculate.

It is best to use a cleaned small room (such as a bathroom), HEPA flow hood or glove box when Inoculating.

Here is the basic order of things during the Inoculation procedure:

1. Open the pressure cooker
2. Remove a jar
3. Heat the syringe needle until it is red hot, with either a lighter or alcohol lamp
4. Remove the foil
5. Insert the needle into the hole you punched with a nail earlier
6. Inject some (about 1ml or so) of the spore saturated fluid into the substrate, on the wall of the glass jar. You should be able to see the needle tip and the water run down the side of the jar.
7. Repeat with the other nail holes
8. Replace the foil and continue with the next jar, reheat the needle if it touches anything unsterilized or every 3 or so jars to prevent contaminations.

See the second picture on this step for an example of contamination, green penicillium mold is a common contaminant. Yellow and pink discoloration is another sign of contamination.

Step 8: Incubation

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Now that the hard part is over, you just need to let the jars rest somewhere warm and dark. Like in a cupboard above the refridgerator, or in a cardboard box by your computer tower.

This allows the spores to incubate into mycelium the body that absorbs nutrients and water.

Keep them around 80-86 degrees F. It will just take longer for the mycelium to grow if it isn't near the optimum temperature.

It takes around 3 to 4 days to see the first hairs of mycelium forming as white spots and 3 to 5 weeks to let the fungus get to a 100% foothold in all the substrate, depending on temperature conditions.

Step 9: Science: Mycelium

Picture of Science: Mycelium
Mushrooms are part of the basidiomycota phylum which reproduce using spores (basidiospores) created on the gills (basidia) of the mushroom.

Hyphae is the stringy organic material making up the mycelium. When hyphae from 2 different mycelium bodies meet they share genetic material and create a dikaryotic, secondary mycelium structure from which the fruit bodies (basidiocarps) form.

That is why we inject spores in multiple places to create more than 1 mycelium body!

The following pictures show progress of the growth.

Step 10: Fruiting chamber

Picture of Fruiting chamber
A simple fruiting chamber can be fashioned out of an aquarium or a large tupperware box.

The main purpose of the chamber is to create a high humidity (90% to 100%) environment for our mushrooms to flourish.

To easily humidify the chamber, fill a strainer with your perlite and soak it in a bowl of water for 5 to 10 minutes, drain it, and line the bottom of the container with it. This will allow the water to slowly evaporate to create high humidity.

Place squares of aluminum foil where you will be putting your substrate cakes in the next step.

Be sure to use some sort of cover to keep the humidity in the chamber. If you can drill holes into the sides of the container to allow air exchange, the mushrooms produce CO2 and require O2 to live!

Step 11: Birthing your cakes

Picture of Birthing your cakes
Once the mycelium has taken a hold over all the substrate in the jar, the next step would be to pop the colonized cake out, or birth it.

Birthing is a fairly simple process of taking the foil and lid off the jar, flipping it upside down on a paper plate or peice of foil and giving it a few smacks downward to dislodge it.

After birthing it is a good idea to soak the cake in water for about 24 hours. Temperature shocking the fungus by soaking it in the refrigerator causes the fruits to appear quicker than a room temperature soak.

I have also seen methods that roll the cake in dry vermiculite after they have been soaked and birthed.

Remember that mushrooms are 80 to 90% water!

Step 12: Wait for your first flush

Picture of Wait for your first flush
It takes about 2 weeks for the first flush to complete growing depending on the species.

The cakes should last for about 3 or 4 flushes, in which you may "dunk" the cakes for 24 hours between flushes to rehydrate it.

If you plan on picking the mushrooms, just grab them from the base with your forefinger and thumb and break it off at the base. They can either be cooked fresh, freeze dried or air dried for cooking later!

Good luck!
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g0pher8 years ago
contams can be a health hazard, some of them being very toxic. for example the black mold. if your jar is contaminated DO NOT OPEN IT, when you open a jar with mold in it, the spores go everywhere, and if inhaled in enough quantities, it will take you down. pressure cook the contaminated jars before opening to kill off the mold, then wear a mask and dispose of properly. i would just get rid of the whole thing, jar and all, your life is worth a lot more than a jar :)
not only worry about it being a safety hazard but , you have a chance of those free floating spores contaminating over and over making it so you cant grow your mushrooms... so throw it away do not open it.

Open the jar outside and empty the contents. If you don't have a way to rinse it outside, put the lid back on, bring it back in and submerge it in a sink of hot soapy water and open the lid under the water. No need to waste jars by throwing them away.

Raziel7 g0pher4 years ago
I have opened contaminated jars before and nothing happened. Although i would not recommend it because the spores can affect other things in your house, though this is also not very likely.

The jars can be used again if you are in need just use a pressure cooker to sterilize them. A warning though, there is the small chance that some unbelievably resistant spores may lurk in the jar, in which case your new medium will also be contaminated.

This is not likely and has never happened to me. People really make a bigger deal about it than it really is, but that is not to say that needless safety precautions are a bad thing. In fact they help you establish a succesfull work routine. But if you you really need the jar just reuse it, just make sure you dispose of the contaminants properly. (not anywhere near your house)
Bando800 g0pher5 years ago
We don't want to spread fear mongering sensationalism. Not too likely your going to die from opening a contaminated jar buddy. Just like if your spaghetti sauce goes bad, it may stink but it's probably not deadly unless you eat a lot of it. True, you don't want to open it because it can spread the kind of spores or bacteria you don't want in your grow area. This can damage your success rate. Just throw it out. It's not any more dangerous than any spoiled kitchen item though.

can i use rye flour cuz i cant find BRF in the stores where i live or do i need BRF For the growth to feed on ?

when your fruiting them how long do you leave them in their for? and are they in the 8 oz jar or just dumped in there?
If you want to start growing you should go to sites like the shroomery. People here will tell you things when they really have zero experience. Even in the instructable there is misinformation. Like cold shocking has been debunked, you keep the cakes in cold water while dunking cause it's harder for bacteria to grow in cold water. As for your question, birthing a cake(taking it put of the jar) at full colonization after a week of consolidation is typical. But you can fruit them in vitro also which means you leave the cakes in the jar and let fruit body's form. In vitro works fine but your fruits will be ugly and it's just not most people preferred method. And once you put them in the fruiting chamber you can expect to see growth in 3-10 days on average. Once they start growing they grow very fast. Each batch of mushrooms is called a flush. So the time in your fruiting chamber depends on how fast they are growing and how many flushes you get. Typically I see 2-5 flushes with my cakes. There is a lot of good info online about cultivating your own mushrooms but there's just as much bad. Your best bet is to stick with sites like the shroomery. Good spore suppliers are a must, don't gamble on suppliers that aren't sponsored by the shroomery. Some good ones are hawks eye, and the spore depot. My personal favorite is the spore depot. Anyway hope that answers your question and I hope my comment has made other people wiser to all the misinformation running rampant online. (Not spell checked or reread)
ranzo9 months ago

Thank you for sharing this mushrooms growing PF-TEK method. For substrates lile perlite, vermiculite and brown rice flour i found all of them here http://www.magic-truffles-shop.com/sclerotia-cultivation/substrate.html

jonathanb510 months ago

you should put shake the spore syringe well in the steps

By adding worm castings i believe you will get much better results. It is used in growing marijuanna for nutrients. I do not know about growing mushrooms, just adding my two cents.
That would be plain dumb...

no its not, it is actually used with a combination with bee pollen to bring in the extra nutrients mushrooms need.

You're working in a sterile environment, and you're adding worm castings...
Seems to me that there are quite a lot bacteria and funghi spores in worm castings...
I once counted my wormcompost-tea in a lab and the average amount of colony forming units was 6 million / ml

nwason1 year ago

Yes, well said that with spore syringes growing mushrooms are easy. I have also read important instruction on this website (http://www.magic-spores-shop.com/) .

rholman11 year ago
Thanks for the info!
Very Nice,
164052 years ago
I have an easier way.

Step 1: Leave your house extremely dirty
Step 2: Mold should start growing in some places
Step 3: Continue monitoring your mold, and some mushrooms should start popping up

Lol jk, but seriously, good idea man!
bmaggard3 years ago
Does dunking it really make that big of a difference?? and at what temp. do u keep your fruiting chamber?
Heres your answer:
(first flush)
xallie bmaggard3 years ago
yes, it really does. try it for yourself, one with dunking and one without :)
lpmm2153 years ago
hello great explication thank you but i am having the problem of find a spore bank that sends to portugal can you guys help me

thank you
nava7874 years ago
Great instrutable cant wait to try it out, any suggestions on where to get spores in the USA or Texas or Houston,
bwarman144 years ago
Be careful not to get ripped off a lot of spore vendors on the net will do just that.
Use Mushroom Prints if you can, they are totally reliable and sometimes give away free spores and stuff with orders.
20 cool points to who ever made the video for using shpongle as the background music!
MrCodeE5 years ago
 Instead of a pressure cooker, I used a large, deep pot, with lid, and just duct taped it to seal it up.  Kind of white trash, but saves on the cooker.
fat64 MrCodeE5 years ago
Yes. This video describes another method for using just a pot instead of a pressure cooker: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZHJQrsZFQdE&feature=PlayList&p=E242984A46FADF3E&playnext_from=PL&index=0&playnext=1
Questions actually, how long until you picked mushrooms and per jar or number of jars how many mushrooms or pounds of mushrooms did you harvest?
I have heard that it is common to harvest a half ounce of mushrooms per cake, so if you're growing 10 cakes at once, you get 5 ounces.
 That's about right...  without dunking I had 12 jars, and after 1 flush I ended up with 5.5 oz of dried mushrooms.  Had I dunked, it would probably be a lot more.
MrCodeE5 years ago
 Proper drying is important too....  Air, light, and heat degrade the ...  special.. quality of certain mushrooms.  When harvesting, be sure to remove aborts too, (the mushrooms that never fully fruited).
341200606 years ago
first off i thank you so much for this guide and what not i had trouble understainding the writen versions i have found :P i am planning on growing some during the summer because of the cold winters were i live (could i use a heat lamp and what not maybe?) anyway i was wondering how you did the oxyegen exchange without loosing humidity if i didnt drill holes in the auquarium? also how often would you have to change the water soaked perlite that you used for the humidity? iquitsmoking1's question how many mushrooms does the average 12 jar setup harvest?
Without any venting holes, you should waft the air out with your hand. If you blow on the mushrooms, you will blow contaminants into the cakes; mushrooms use oxygen, like humans, so you blowing the CO2 in your lungs at them won't make them happy. Also, since a drop in CO2 levels as well as a drop in humidity and a drop in temperature all work in causing the mycelium to fruit. You don't change the perlite often, only change it when you change the cakes, any less and I would be concerned with contamination. I replied to the quantity question below.

you could always just pokes some holes in the lids of a couple jars(to provide slower, longer release) puts some peroxide, and chicken liver in the jars and set them in the tank. It would give off oxygen so you wouldnt need to worry bout vent holes. you would probably have to put fresh jars in every now and then though.

NZsquigg7 years ago
Would microwaving the jars work instead of a pressure cooker...hmm, not sure if microwaving glass works, not in the smartest state of mind at the moment
You can microwave a tupperware dish with the medium in it, works pretty well.
nak (author)  NZsquigg7 years ago
The metal tops wont microwave, pyrex glass is ok, but cheap canning jars might crack. I bet if you microwaved them and got a lid on them without exposing them to air it would work, sounds like it would be more difficult than pressure cooking, but if you experiment let people know how you did it (if it's successful!)
Gjdj36 years ago
P. Cubensis? Haha, I think the U.S. law frowns on people growing cubes. Anyway, nice job! One thing though... you don't necessarily need a pressure cooker. If you don't want to spring for one, you can get away with boiling the jars (Though you do increase the risk of contamination).
kretzlord Gjdj35 years ago
I've used a bamboo steamer on top of a large pot of boiling water without any contamination. 45-60 minutes does it for me, and it allows you to stack more if you want.
cakemixer5 years ago
I have black patches growing on my mushrooms and the caps are starting to peel backwards. Is this black mold? iduno. somebody help me out.
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