Introduction: 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

Step 1: Supplies to Begin

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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 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

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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

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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

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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

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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!


verveviv (author)2017-10-08

I am a beginner, I followed instructions, I received spore in syringes, it was pinkish in color. I inoculated the cakes and have been waiting , I had a look a few minutes ago and the jars are still pretty quiet, however one jar has myecelium but it is a very light pinkish color - is that because it is contaminated ? - any thoughts?

MitchellP24 (author)2017-06-27

Hi I was wondering, when the mycilia is growing in the substrate do you need to mist it to keep it damp?

Fieldsky (author)2017-04-09

Hi everyone,
the jars i'm using are 1 year old, and the growth of the mycelium is very different in the three jars (one is almost complete, the other two just started).
Is possible that after 1 year the water inside the jars has gone? Can I add more water now? Thanks

Samantha_Stoddard (author)2017-03-11

How to grow delicious, organic mushrooms at home....

Maxime1543 (author)2016-09-08

Is it okay to use jars with metal lids? My local store doesn't have two parts lids

SAMP17 (author)Maxime15432017-01-17

Its fine...sterility is the key

Jraybaybay (author)2016-04-02

Help! I can't tell if this cake is contaminated, this is my first time trying to grow shrooms and I'm just not sure.

mklekotko (author)Jraybaybay2016-06-12

toss it quick before it contaminates the rest of the cakes

IanC114 (author)Jraybaybay2016-04-29

i would say so I've seen cakes like that that didnt end up making it

SHOE0007 (author)2016-04-28

I forgot to mention 200 ml of tap water is added too.

SHOE0007 made it! (author)2016-04-28

Here is an alternative where you make the following pudding agar.

For 200 ml

5 g of cocoa pudding powder.

5 g of agar

5 g of Diammonium phosphate

1g of Inositol

5 g of Potato starch

5 g Fructose

5 g Milk Powder

This medium turns into a gel pudding at 70 degrees C.

I am using it to grow Oyster mushrooms.

SHOE0007 (author)2016-04-20

1 mole per L to zero moles HCl. Hydrochloric acid slowly evaporated outside. I did this also in a clean environment with 1 mole HCl. Normally after a week away from light and impurities no change in pH ( the ph was 1).

So I know that metals would work to be Bio remediated this way too since they are water soluble.

SHOE0007 (author)2016-04-20

A bit off topic but I am using Penicillium. D which I isolated carefully on mold from a lemon. I am using the fungi to absorb toxins and trap them into the spores themselves. These toxins are gold, copper and nickel.

Once in my lab I had 1 mole of HCl measured plus pepsin with a pH meter. After a week this mold that I described above started to grow even though the pepsin will SOAKED in Hydrochloric acid. I measured the pH with paper and it was neutral. This fungi neutralized the acid!!!!!

SHOE0007 (author)2016-04-16

Here is a picture of the done project.

SHOE0007 (author)2016-04-16

I have discovered that if you boil a 1.2-1.5% aqueous solution of sodium dichloroisocyanurate with fresh garlic bulbs there MAY an advantage to adding both due to several reasons. Garlic is a stable compound if it is placed into medium like agar agar. The bleach with garlic is sterilizing and preventing the growth of potentially dangerous mold.

I was doing a project and I left garlic out and to my surprise no mold grew on it. There is naturally mold down there and if I could kill two birds with one stone all the better for the results.

I am testing that theory right now.

SHOE0007 (author)2016-01-07

A 0.1% solution of sodium dichloroisocyanurate is less corrosive because it produces lye, organic cyuranic acid which lowers the ph from 10- 11 to 7-8. As all plants and fungi cannot survive ph 10- 11 and even 9 is pushing it a bit is more ideal. This is comparison to regular bleach. Also bleach is unstable and will breakdown and provide less protection against the pathogens. Salts of sodium dichloroisocyanurate are more stable.

SHOE0007 (author)2016-01-07

If you are going to use my method BE VERY CAREFUL WITH the chemical Sodium dichloroisocyanurate. It is highly corrosive and poison and if mixed with a lot of water or just a bit of water it possibly produce Chlorine. chlorine monoxide, Nitrogen trichloride (extremely dangerous chemical), other dangerous nitrogen chlorine forming chemicals. Incorrect use of this chemical can result in fire, explosion or death!!!

To be more familiar with it always read the MSDS before using any chemical. If you accidently expose this chemical to WATER always quickly remove heat generated by flooding with at least 4 L of water!! Working with it recommended you use a gas mask as well in case of accident.

SHOE0007 (author)2016-01-07

I will in the summer make a type of agar which contains agar, soya bean powder, potato starch, glucose, and solution of squat and solution of sodium dichloroisocyanurate. The squats and the dichloroisocyanurate are to deter the bacteria from growing as well as spores from growing on the plates.

If the squats and sodium dichloroisocyanurate chemicals are too high then the fungi (Oyster mushrooms) will not grow.

chad.hunter.75054 (author)2015-04-01

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 ?

You can buy regular Brown rice, whole grain, and give it a pass through the cofee grinder or blender. It doesn't matter if its a bit chuncky. I did it and got 100% sucess (:

Greenmachines (author)2015-09-30

Would these steps be similar for oyster mushrooms?

SHOE0007 (author)2015-08-03

I am wondering if I take spores from groceries will they grow on the material or do you have to get them from a company??

masterpython (author)SHOE00072015-09-28

If you have a fresh mushroom you can try taking a spore print and using them but you are better off cloning. That is when you take a piece of tissue from the middle of the stem and put in on an agar petri dish and let it grow.

cwebber1 (author)2015-08-21



g0pher (author)2007-08-09

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 :)

ungsluggerdood2 (author)g0pher2010-08-16

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 (author)g0pher2010-11-30

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 (author)g0pher2009-08-19

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.

rocketsbeast (author)2010-04-21

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)

ranzo (author)2014-10-25

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

jonathanb5 (author)2014-09-30

you should put shake the spore syringe well in the steps

illdoyourdrugs (author)2008-07-19

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

nwason (author)2014-06-02

Yes, well said that with spore syringes growing mushrooms are easy. I have also read important instruction on this website ( .

rholman1 (author)2013-11-30

Thanks for the info!

KhanMushrooms (author)2013-11-17

Very Nice,

16405 (author)2013-03-07

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!

bmaggard (author)2012-03-08

Does dunking it really make that big of a difference?? and at what temp. do u keep your fruiting chamber?

micahmoore (author)bmaggard2012-06-16

Heres your answer:
(first flush)

xallie (author)bmaggard2012-06-14

yes, it really does. try it for yourself, one with dunking and one without :)

lpmm215 (author)2012-01-01

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

nava787 (author)2011-07-15

Great instrutable cant wait to try it out, any suggestions on where to get spores in the USA or Texas or Houston,

bwarman14 (author)2011-06-16

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.

glowingiunknwn (author)2010-09-05

20 cool points to who ever made the video for using shpongle as the background music!

MrCodeE (author)2010-01-28

 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 (author)MrCodeE2010-07-21

Yes. This video describes another method for using just a pot instead of a pressure cooker:

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