DIY Large Kit : PF Tek Method

Step 1

Prepare the tops of the culture jars so that they can be in place, on the jars when inoculating the jars with the spore syringe. Part of the reason this system works so well in the non-sterile kitchen environment is the fact that the sterilized substrate is never exposed to air born contaminates. Get a small nail and use a hammer to poke 4 holes in the lid of each canning jar. Or you can use a small drill bit and drill. See the following figure:

Step 2: Mixing your Vermiculite, Brown Rice Flour and Water

For 6 jars use the following:

  • 750ml Vermiculite
  • 220ml Water
  • 300ml Brown Rice flour

For 12 jars use the following:

  • 1500ml Vermiculite
  • 440ml Water
  • 600ml Brown Rice Flour
For wood loving species replace the Vermiculite with Sawdust - this way you can grow Shiitake mushrooms etc.

Mix the Water and Vermiculite first.
Once well mixed, add the Brown Rice Flour and mix well (see pics below).
The mixture should look on the dry side, but when you squeeze it, it will clump together and break up again easily.


Step 3:

Put mixture in the jars up to the bottom of the thread of the jar (see picture 1).
Lightly tap the jar on the bench and put a bit more mixture in so it's about 1cm from full or up to the bottom of the thread again.
Wipe with a clean dry cloth around the rim so there is nothing on the glass within the gap and no wetness (see picture 2)


Step 4:

Fill the top 1/2 inch (1cm) of the each culture jar with DRY vermiculite. This layer is pure, simple, dry vermiculite. Nothing else. Fill the jar level with the glass edge. (see picture)

NOTE: This layer is a break through pioneered by Psylocybe Fanaticus. What this layer does is insulate the sterilized substrate from any air borne contamination. This layer gets sterilized with the substrate later and air borne molds and bacteria can not (usually) get through it to contaminate the substrate. At the same time, it allows some gas exchange to occur. The fungus needs oxygen and gasses can filter through the vermiculite.

Step 5:

Place the jar lids on the jars and screw the lid down tight.

NOTE: You need to have the four holes poked in the lid (as per Step 1) otherwise you can have real problems when you heat the jars up.

Step 6:

Place a piece of tin foil over the top of each jar and crumple it around the sides of the jar (see picture 2).

This is to keep water drops from going in the four holes in the lid while the jar is being sterilized. If you poked your holes in the lid such that the sharp edges are pointing up, be careful not to rip or puncture the tin foil. If you need to, you can add a second or even a third piece of tin foil to make sure water will not drip into the holes in the lid.

Step 7:

The culture jars now need to be sterilized.

Place the jars in a pressure cooker

Place some water in the pressure cooker and a spacer on the bottom (anything will do - metal tray or even a dish cloth its just to disperse the heat evenly)

NOTE: You don’t want the water higher than ¼ up the jar when all are loaded in the bottom.

Start on medium flame until the steam starts flowing out at a fair rate - this might take around 15-20 mins.

Once this starts to happen turn the flame down to low so the steam is steadily flowing out constantly

Once the steam starts coming out, leave the jars in for a hour.

NOTE: If you don’t have a pressure cooker you can steam them for 90-120 mins in a big pot with a lid. Make sure there is constant steam being made to sterilize them (constant light boil). You will also have to make sure you don’t boil the water dry this way. You can also use a vegetable steamer etc.

Step 8:

Let the jars cool slowly - Leave them in the pressure cooker until they have cooled completely.

NOTE: The jars need to be at room temperature in order to inoculate. The spores will be killed if the jars are not cool enough when they are inoculated. It will take several hours to cool sufficiently. You may hear sounds as the jars cool. This is normal.

Step 9: Inoculation of the culture jars

Assuming you have a viable, sterile spore syringe (see making a spore syringe) you are now in a position to inoculate the cultures and start the first phase of the growing cycle.

NOTE: The needle of the spore syringe must be sterile. If your fingers or anything other than the lid or contents of the culture jars comes in contact with it assume it is no longer sterile. If there is any doubt about its condition, use a cigarette lighter to heat the entire needle. Heat it until it glows red. Let it cool for at least 30 seconds.

Shake the syringe. Make sure the spores are mixed well within the syringe. This can be accomplished more easily if you pull the plunger back on the syringe to get a little air into the syringe.

Remove the tin foil from each culture jar as you prepare to inoculate it. Insert the needle of the syringe as far as it will go into a hole in the lid of the culture jar and get the needle to press against the glass. Examine the next figure for a simple diagram of how things should look. Inject 1/4 cc of solution at a site under each hole in the lid.

A total of 1 cc of solution for each jar.


Step 10:

This is the easy part.

Put the culture jars in your grow chamber in the Dark (see setting up grow chamber) set at about 82°F to 86°F.

The fungus will first appear as little splotches of white fuzzy stuff at the inoculation sites.


As the time goes by, the fungus will spread throughout the jar. Eventually, the entire surface of the glass will be covered with fungus. Typically, the bottom of the jar is the last area to be colonized. Be on the look out for any contamination.

Any odd colors that might appear are contamination and the jar must be thrown out. Do not take any chances. If you think the jar might be contaminated, throw it out!. Some molds and bacteria produce toxins that can kill you. Just because a mushroom is growing on the opposite side of the cake from the contamination does not mean you are safe.

The mycelium network carries nutrients and moisture to the mushrooms from far away and can easily pick up the toxins and bring them to the mushroom. The fact that you are using this guide means you are not an experienced mycologist. You do not know which molds and bacteria are deadly. Do not take a chance

The one exception to the previous statements is the mycelium will some times change from a bright white to a very pale yellow if it has water droplets touching it on the side of the glass. It is very unusual for any area that is colonized by the mushroom fungus to become infected while in the jar. The uncolonized areas of the substrate are usually significantly more prone to infection.

The above pictures show a typical germination and colonization cycle. If your spores are old, or the temperature is not optimum, or you did not mix the substrate very accurately you can easily add a week to the above time frames.

The cake must stay in the jar until the entire surface area is covered with mycelium. As the substrate gets more colonized, the growth slows down. This is a result of CO2 building up and less oxygen being available for the fungus to consume

The cakes can not be taken out of the jars while there is still uncolonized substrate (make sure you check the bottom is fully colonized also)

Step 11: A fully colonized jar

Once a rice cake is fully colonized, it can be taken out of the culture jar. At this point, there are no areas on the substrate that can easily be infected by competitor molds and bacteria.

Once the Mycelium is established it can usually prevent other organisms from gaining a foot hold and destroying the rice cake.

Unscrew and remove the lid from the canning jars.

Scrape all the loose vermiculite on the top of the substrate into the garbage. Take care not to gouge into the substrate material as this can leave areas open to infection. You do not need to get all the vermiculite off of the cake. In fact, the only reason to remove any of it is to keep the terrarium neat and orderly.

Turn the jar up side down and slam it onto a table top. The rice cake should slide out of the jar.

NOTE: The rice cakes will typically shrink a little during the colonization phase of the process and will come out of the jars easily with a little tapping on a table top.

Step 12:

Dunking the cakes get a big container and put some water in it and sit the cakes in it and put lid on and put in the fridge for 24 hours, after 12 hours turn upside down so all the cakes get a good soak, make sure your container is fully air tight, another way is to use zip-lock bags. Or place a plate or something onto of the cakes to hold them under water.

Step 13:

Now its time to put the cakes into your birthing chamber - see setting up birthing chamber instructions.

The following is just some info to help you with the birthing stage

Once you place a fully colonized rice cake in the terrarium it just needs several things to grow mushrooms. It needs high humidity, temperatures below 85°F and a little light.

Once the Mycelium network has gained access to enough nutrients the cake can initiate mushrooms if conditions are right. The initiation of mushrooms requires some light and temperatures in the mid to upper 70°F. The mushrooms can grow at higher temperatures, and in fact grow faster at higher temperatures. But the fact remains that the temperature range is fairly narrow to start new mushrooms.

Normally, it takes about a week for pin heads to form if the rice cake was removed from the culture jar as soon as it was 100% colonized. It can happen after just a couple days if the mycelium network is well established, or it can take several weeks if things aren't just perfect for the cake.

If you keep the terrarium's temperature in the mid to upper 70°F. you will be constantly initiating new mushrooms (pin heads) while providing a good environment for the growing mushrooms to mature.

The rice cakes need a small amount of light to initiate pin heads. Mushrooms are not plants and do not need light to grow. However they need a little bit of light to tell the mushrooms when to grow, not direct sunlight

The rice cakes will have a very bright white appearance when they are first placed in the terrarium. Soon, they will be coated with a thin layer of fluffy Mycelium. If the cakes refuse to fruit but continue to form more and more fluffy Mycelium this is an indication that the humidity is too high and needs to be adjusted downward, you should open the vents a bit more on your birth box.

When pin heads form, they will look like a short section of a common pin. Hence, the name. The end of these pin heads will soon grow dark brown. This is the cap beginning to form. When the rice cakes are fresh, the small mushrooms will start adding bulk rather than grow longer. They will form balls the size of a marble. Then, they will start to thin out and grow long, adding bulk the whole time.

If the mushrooms have mycelium growing on the caps, it is an indication that your humidity is too low in the terrarium. In this case, you have just enough humidity to allow the cakes to fruit, so you need to spray more often to keep the birth box more humid.

After every flush of mushrooms you should repeat step 13 and dunk the cakes, after 3 or 4 flushes the cake will produce no more mushrooms,

If you have any trouble there are lots of how to video’s on YouTube just look up how to grow mushrooms and there are many detailed videos on every step and different methods of how to grow mushrooms and sometimes seeing makes it a lot easier.