After a little experimentation with the PF cake double ended casing tek (rehydration tek), I have a new discovery. The PF spore race is a thirsty shroom. It readily drinks water from the cake and the more water in the substrate, the bigger and bloatier the shrooms can grow. This absorbtion of water into and throughout cell tissue is called OSMOSIS.
When an abundance of water is made available to the PF spore race shrooms, they can bloat up and the stems become huge with a lot of weight. The fruiting is acutally not as big as it looks because of the water bloat and extra weight. Plus, the water heavy shrooms don't dry with the quality that normal thin stemmed shrooms do. These water logged shrooms break down very fast in comparison to the "dryer" shrooms. When we pick wild shrooms, we avoid the large water logged shrooms because they quickly deliques into mush.
There is an important connection that I suspect between water bloat (cubie ability to drink) and growing on casing that also can easily harbor bacteria and mold, as well as the fungi mycelium. There have been a few posts on the web about what appears to be abnormally severe nausea and sickness after eating magic shrooms. In one of the posts, the person described getting deathly ill after eating shrooms grown by a friend using the old cased rye grain jar tek (obsolete - labor intensive and contamination prone). The follows to the post echoed the idea that the shrooms grew in contaminated casing that the eater or grower weren't aware of. It is well known that casing developes micro organisms as the fungi slowly spreads (taking a week or two at least in the non sterile casing). Then there was another post of someone getting ill and vomiting for two days when he ate shrooms that came off of a cake with mold on it. And just recently on the alt.drugs.mushrooms there was a post from someone who described a "black mold" on the casing and that the shrooms were "black" inside the stem (fruit body). That is definitely a very bad sign.
After seeing how the shrooms can really drink the water from the cake, I can see how shrooms (especially on non sterile casing with peat moss) can drink water rich in bacteria that is in the substrate. Then the shroom will respond to the presence of the high bacteria count and alter its own chemistry to combat it thru its own special antibiotic powers. This certainly makes things different than if there was no bacteria or mold in the substrate body as the shrooms grow (drinking heavily).
Another example of the cubie drinking a poisonous brew from its environment and harming the shrooms happened to a friend of mine a couple of years ago. He was growing one cake in a plastic lab dessicator with wet paper towels. To the paper towels, he applied copper sulfate, a lab sterilizing chemical (biocide) to keep the towels sterile during cultivation. The cake was situated above the towels on the dessicators metal chamber partition, safely isolated from the towels. But a little of the towel did protrude up the side of the terrarium a little. But what happened was very strange. The fruiting was good and the shrooms were large and mature with dark gills. Then over night, the next morning, the shrooms had all drooped and fallen over flat! He immediately called me and I scooted over and he showed me the terrarium. It was not only scarry that something like that could happen, but bizaar. It concerned me because I would like to know why. I have never seen anything like that before or since. What an incredible failure to see. But the amazing thing was that the mature caps did not yield any spore prints. The shrooms were dead from their stems to their reproductive systems.
We discussed it and he said it was probably caused when a couple of the stems grew so large that they arced over to the terrarium side and slightly came in contact with some paper towel. It was so minor that he thought it was nothing to be concerned about. But the next day it was a different story. His theory was that the toxic copper sulfate got absorbed into the shroom system via the slight touching of a few stems to the paper and killed them, right out. The kill was really fast (overnight). I refused to believe that a couple of stems coming in contact with the sterilant could do that and suggested that it was an air problem. Now I know that I was wrong and he was correct (makes sense - he's a professional Biologist). This is a clear example of how the shrooms can take into their system poisons and contamination (bacteria) by just being in contact with it, thru osmosis.
I have seen in perlite and terrarium testing that perlite can develop a foul smell within a week of its use. A bad smell can only mean bacteria. So here again, cakes in contact with bacteria ridden wet perlite will take bacteria in thru osmosis, possibly degrading the shrooms quality. If perlite is used, isolate the cakes from the perlite by setting the cakes on a jar cap or dish. There are many that like to treat their perlite with hydrogen peroxide to keep it clean. Here again, do mushrooms like drinking a toxic sterilant such as peroxide? To be safe, just isolate the cakes on a jar cap.
It is being reported in the pop mycology literature that young small samples of a given magic shroom specie are the most potent. I have reported this since the PF TEK was published in 1991. But I defined it as also having to do with sporulation and veil parting. So it seems to me, that anyone who wants to trip, would prefer going the quality route instead of the quantity route, where the shrooms are not only harvested young and diminutive but they are grown in pure non chemicalized substrate, with no other microbes present - in sterile substrate. So this would mean that casing, even though it can dramatically increase yields, can be a negative in the quality department but definitely a positive in the quantity department.
For top quality, avoid casing, but if you MUST case, use vermiculite without peat moss. Peat moss contaminates readily in fungi culture. The more the casing is watered, the bigger the shrooms and the more tendancy towards bloating. So be descriminating if you water. A little goes a long way to stimulate more fruiting of unbloated specimens. Just use the neglect tek and collect smaller non bloated second and third flush shrooms. These are the best and they can equal the fabulous liberty caps in potency.
The PF TEK is a sterile to clean tek. But secondly, it can be altered to give small (unbloated) fast fruitings of tasty little thin stemmed cubies. This can be done by going back to the basic PF TEK formula of 1/2 cup vermiculite, 1/8 cup of brown rice powder and around 45 ml of water. But then you can even lower the water content. This has a dramatic effect on size which can result in the shrooms growing with normal slender, solid stems. Then they can dry rock hard very fast. These are the best cubies. When wet and fresh, the stems of these slender shrooms can usually be snapped in two, whereas the bloated thick stemmed specimens just squish up if you try to break them in half. Large, bloated, "fat assed" fruitings on cased grain look impressive at first, but the quality is poor.
So in conclusion, sterile non-chemicallized organic substrate will produce clean shrooms with no extra noxiousness to them except the usual psilocybian trip tinged with low but definitely feelable toxic effects. After all, psilocybin is regarded as toxic - albiet low - but still that. The side effects of psilocybin can not be escaped if more than a threshold dose is taken.
updated - January 31 1999