Appropriate jars; (source - super markets and hardware stores)
1. KERR wide mouth half pint canning jar - preferable
2. BALL wide mouth half pint (similar to the KERR wide mouth half pint) - preferable
3. BALL regular mouth half pint canning jar
4. BALL half pint jelly jar
5. 1/2 pint (250 ml) capacity drinking glasses (tapered sides)
NOTE: Even though the regular mouth BALL half pint and the regular mouth KERR half pint look similar, the KERR is not tapered.
1/8 cup of brown rice powder (Health food stores and
1/2 - 2/3 cup of horticultural vermiculite (medium grade) (garden centers and hardware)
40-45 cc's (milliliters) of water or (a little less than 1/4 cup) (1&1/2 ounces) (3 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon)
Maximum fruiting formula:
1/4 cup of brown rice powder
1/2 cup of vermiculite
60 cc's water
Not all vermiculite is the same. The coarseness varies quite considerably among different brands. The coarser type will hold less water than the finer type which will alter the water holding capacity. If the formulation (water content) results in a really wet or sloppy substrate, use less water. Keep notes on formulas for replicating the substrate formula that fruits the best.
The above formulas utilize the finer type of vermiculite. If the above maximum fruiting formula is used with the finer type of vermiculite, the jar lid should be loose during incubation (see - "The canning jar lid - loose or tight").
The finer type of vermiculite is recommended over the coarser type because it holds more water. To ascertain the size of the vermiculite particles, observe them under a photo magnifier next to a millimeter ruler. The finer type of vermiculite has particles averaging around 1 millimeter across (some larger and some smaller). The coarser type has particles averaging around 4 or 5 millimeters across and up to 8 millimeters. Stores usually carry one type. Plus, there will be regional differences in the different brands of vermiculite. Shop around and try to get both types to compare.
To make homemade brown rice powder, place some regular brown rice in a small canister type coffee bean grinder and grind it to fine powder. Freshly ground brown rice is recommended over prepackaged type. The freshness sometimes makes a big difference.
If the measuring cup specs aren't true, the formulas will be off, setting up certain failure or diminished growth. Check the cup measurers this way: 1 cup is 237 milliliters which is 1/2 pint or 8 liquid ounces (English measurement). There are 2 cups in a pint, 2 pints in a quart and 4 cups in a quart.
Prepare the canning lid by placing it with the rubber sealing edge upwards on a supporting surface and with a sharpened 3 penny nail (held with vise grip pliers), punch 4 holes inside the periphery of the rubber sealing edge.
When using two piece canning jar lids, the inner lid (with
the rubber edges up) rests on the top of the jar and when
the lid band is screwed off, the lid remains resting on the
jar top. To make the lid and band act as one lid, place
pieces of masking tape on the lid attaching the band to the
lid. Then, the lid can be adjusted for air ventilation and
looseness like an ordinary one piece jar lid.
A 3 piece vegetable steamer (pot, basket insert & lid) is used for the steam sterilizing stage. Also, the stainless steel vegetable steamers that fold out and stand on the bottom of the pot are good. Anything is good as long as it keeps the jar bottoms off the pot bottom where the high temperature will crack the glass.
Step 1. Place 1/2 cup of vermiculite into a mixing bowl. Place the brown rice powder on top of the vermiculite. Slowly add the water directly onto the brown rice powder, wetting it first. Thoroughly mix the ingredients. The mixture should feel damp and cohesive. More water (or less) can be used if experimenting to improve the fruiting. Mix Each jars substrate individually for loading to insure accurate formula rendering.
A note on water: A recent update is worth mentioning. Water quality is indeed important. I have found out that "natural" water is the water to use. It makes for better cultivation of this mushroom on this simple substrate. Distilled water is good for making spore solutions and syringes and storing spore solution. But for growing, they seem to like the "natural" water such as: swamp, lake, stream, pond,river, ground or any water that is rich in organics. I have heard that "mineral" type drinking water is good and makes a difference. I suppose that water seeping from an organic compost pile would be about the best.
Step 2. Fill the jar very loosely. Leave a 1/2 to 3/4 inch space at the top. Level the substrate. With a tissue or a fingertip, wipe the insides of the jar down to the substrate. Fill the top of the jar with plain dry vermiculite and level it off at the top. This upper layer will protect the wet substrate from air borne contaminants. It acts as a contaminant barrier. This is a Psylocybe Fanaticus original discovery. What this dry vermiculite layer does is protect the wet substrate from airborne contaminants and also absorbs and regulates moisture transpiration and condensation.
In the photo, the black tape is the depth for the dry vermiculite. The masking tape shows where the pf substrate goes. The top layer of dry vermiculite must be between 1/2" to 2/3" deep to provide protection from contaminants entering from above.
Step 3. Place the lid on the jar with the rubberized edge up (jagged edges of the needle holes down). Screw the lid band on. Place pieces of "professional" grade masking tape (holds on during steaming) over the needle holes. This is to protect the needle holes from contaminant entry.
Step 4. Heat the pot of water to a boil. Put the jars into the pot with the lid bands loose so that the steam can penetrate the jars quickly. The jars can sit in water but make sure boiling water can't slosh into the jars. Turn the heat down and GENTLY steam the jars at the lowest possible boil for an hour in a TIGHTLY covered pot (gas stoves are the easiest to control). A good tight fitting pot lid is essential for successful steaming.
When steaming or pressure canning is performed, the jars must be protected from water dripping down from the underside of the pot lid caused by heavy condensation and drip off during boiling. This water can get into the jars by entering under the jar lids that arenít tight and soaking the substrate - throwing off the formula and setting up failure. To prevent this, wrap some tin foil around the cap to ward off the water. The tin foil can be removed after steaming (with the tape guarding the needle holes - or the tin foil can be left on until it is inoculation time.)
Be careful to not overheat the jars, this dries the substrate. Drying is evidenced by o.k. spore germination and halted growth. The fungus will spread but stop at a certain point depending on how dry the substrate has become. Generally, any halted growth (with no contamination) is a sign of dried substrate. This is an important concept that will enable diagnosis and correction of problems experienced with drying. The remedy is to increase the water content of the substrate formula in use. After the jars have cooled, tighten the lids and store them in a cool draft free place until ready to inoculate them.
1. 1/2 pint PF substrate jars - 12 p.s.i. for 20 minutes
2. Water bottles - 12 p.s.i. for 55 minutes
3. Syringes and needles - 12 p.s.i. for 10 minutes