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Casing PF-Cakes

This document describes a simple casing procedure involving the PF-Tek cakes.

You are going to need:

Limestone flour is chemically mostly Calcium carbonate (CaCO3), so you can take also pure CaCO3 or any other material that is in powder form and contains high amounts of CaCO3.

First we are going to prepare the casing mix.
Combine 60% peat, 30% vermiculite and 10% limestone flour by volume, mix well, and under stirring add as much water to it, that when you take a handful of the casing material and lightly squeeze it in your hand some water begins to drop from it.

Then put this mix into a covered plastic bowl or a plastic bag, and put it into the microwave for 5-10 minutes, depending on the amount of the casing material. The goal is to get the casing boiling hot (~200°F), and when this is the case, take it out, stir the mixture in the bowl or shake the bag to redistribute the hotter parts and let it cool completely (several hours) in a clean place.

After the casing mixture is completely cool we can go to the next step, casing the cakes.
Prepare a dish that will accommodate your casing. This can be from any material: plastic, any metal, ceramics...
Ideally it should be opaque, if it is translucent, you will get pins inside the casing itself, which can lead to problems. If the container is not opaque, apply some aluminum foil and cover all the outer walls with it to keep the light out. Alternatively cover the inside of the container with the foil.

How big of a container you are going to use depends on how many cakes you are going to case.
In this example, I use 6 cakes, which perfectly fit into the pictured plastic container. I painted the walls of the container black to keep out the light (in order for the paint to stick on plastics, you will need to apply a primer first, otherwise paint won't stick...)

The depth of the container should be 1/2 to 1 inch larger than the cakes are tall. If you only have a lower container, you can cut the cakes in half, or even put them into a clean plastic bag and crumble them from the outside, so you end up with pieces the size of a marble. I prefer the taller containers because it is simply less work.

Once you have the containers, loosen the fully colonized cakes by bumping them slightly top down on the palm of your hand, or directly into the container. Arrange the cakes in the container.

Apply some casing material between the cakes.

Loosely apply around 1/2 inch on the top of the cakes. Don't press the casing material down, it should stay lose and the surface should have hills and valleys.

Give the casing layer a good spray with clean water and cover with a piece of aluminium foil. Put in the incubator or leave at room temperature for 3-7 days. After the day 4 check on the progress by lifting the foil a bit and peeking underneath. Alternatively use polypropylene wrap instead of aluminium foil.

As soon you see first strands of mycelium starting poking through the casing layer take off the aluminium foil, give it a good spray with water and put into your fruiting chamber.
The humidity should be kept at 95-100°RH at this phase, and temperature maintained at around 70-75°F.
After 5-10 days the pins should appear.

After the pins are visible, lower the humidity to around 90°RH.
If the casing layer seems dry, lightly mist the casing layer with water. The casing should remain moist at all times but not soaking wet.

The pins will grow into fully grown mushrooms over the next couple of days.

The same casing procedure can also be done with colonized grain.

More info on casings:

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Page last modified on June 23, 2009, at 06:32 AM