Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Growing Mushrooms

Materials Needed:

- a sporeprint from a strain of psychedelic mushrooms. 
    (make sure it's the real thing, and that it's not contaminated with  
     anything!  Dust, for example.)

- a pressure cooker, any size, but preferably one with 17 qt. (liquid) capacity.
    (this is the most expensive item, but it's a necessity.  Borrow, rent, 
     buy, or steal one.) 

- one dozen (or more) new canning jars, 1 quart size, pref. wide mouthed, 
  with lids.  

- a box/bag of brown rice--NOT white rice.  Long grain/wild rice might also
  be a good growing medium--maybe even better than regular brown rice, although
  I'm not positive about this.  I once used a half-and-half mix of brown rice
  and Long grain wild rice which worked fine.  However, a possible disadvantage
  to using the long grain/wild rice is that any contaminants such as 
  dark-colored molds will be more difficult to spot in the growing medium.

- something to scrape the spores off the print into the jar... You want 
  something like a stiff metal wire with a handle, so you can heat the end 
  red hot in a flame to sterilize it without burning your fingers.  I find 
  that a probe from a Biology dissection kit works wonderfully.

- a flame source.  An alcohol lamp is not hard to make out of a small jar
  filled with rubbing alcohol, with a cotton ball as a wick.  I suppose you
  could just use a lighter, but i prefer making an alcohol lamp--just make
  sure you don't burn your place down!!

- a clean place to store your jars--should have a relatively constant temp.
  (the optimum temperature for starting the 'shrooms is 86 degrees F, but I
  have found room temperature to work fairly well).  Closet shelves are
  fine, in my experience.  You want a place that's pretty dust/bug free,  
  but you don't want the storage area to be airtight, as shrooms do have to
  breathe just like any other living organism.  Many books recommend making
  some kind of superclean box to store the jars in, but I've never bothered
  with that.  Most sources of information on growing 'shrooms (this one, too)
  stress that everything be AS STERILE AS POSSIBLE.  However, if you do have 
  to cut a few corners you should still be successful if you just USE YOUR HEAD!

which leads me to the....

- optional materials:  germ-killing soap for washing hands, alcohol for 
  sterilizing hands, etc.,  surgical gloves, dust masks, hair-nets, an
  air-filtering machine (Pollenex?), a couple 1 gallon jugs of distilled water,
  a spray bottle, bleach.
  (As you can see, this is all stuff which will help to make things a bit 
   more sterile--definetly recommended!)


This is the procedure I follow for the rice-cake method of propagating 
psychedelic mushrooms.  I use this method for a number of reasons.  One is
that my first ever batch consisted of 6 jars of manure medium and 6 of the
brown rice medium, I found the rice cakes produced more 'shrooms, and for
a longer period of time than did the manure-filled jars.  Rice has obvious 
advantages in that it's easy to obtain--no trekking thru a pasture looking 
for fresh cow-shit!  Also, the manure stinks like hell when cooked in the 
pressure cooker!  Perhaps the biggest advantage to the rice cake method is
that when the rice cake no longer produces crops of 'shrooms (about 2mos.),
you can actually CONSUME THE RICE CAKE ITSELF!!  Given, of course, that you
detect no contaminants on the rice cake (molds or bacteria).  When mushroom
growth stops, the rice cake can provide a trip for 2-4 people.  See the end
of this article for methods of ingesting mushrooms/rice cakes...


1.  Turn off the air-conditioner in the place you're going to do this...It is 
very important to work in a draft-free area.  Turning the A/C off will allow 
the dust in the room to settle (including the heavier mold spores which can 
contaminate your rice-cake medium. )

2.  Set up the pressure cooker, make sure you read the manual if you have one.
You don't want the damn pressure cooker exploding, or anything like that...
Wash out the pressure cooker for good measure, and also wash the jars and lids.
I wouldn't use a towel to dry them out, though, you'll just wipe germs & dust
back on 'em.

3.  Wash yourself, too.  It's recommended that you wear a long sleeved shirt,
and to pull your hair back or wear a cap or hair-net.  I don't think that the
dust mask would be necessary at this point, maybe later, though...

4.  For each quart-size canning jar, add 1/4 cup brown rice and 1/3 - 1/2 cup 
I use the distilled water that you can buy in any grocery store--I don't trust
tap water.  Fill 6 or 7 jars with this mixture, or as many as will fit into 
your pressure cooker without stacking or jamming them in there.  Place the lids
on the jars, with the rubber UP, and leave the lids very loose.

5.  Place the jars on the bottom rack of the pressure cooker.  I recommend using
the rack, that way the jars won't tip and spill as the water boils around them.
Using the rack also keeps them from breaking from the heat of the burner 
directly below them.  For a 17 quart pressure cooker, add about 3 quarts of 
water, but not so much that the jars start to float and tip over.  Again, I use
distilled water for this.
6.  Now, follow the directions for sealing the pressure cooker.  Some recommend
that you rub a dab of cooking oil on the seal, so that it seals properly and
is easier to close and open.  Do it right. Do it by the book.  Turn the stove
on its highest setting and allow the pressure inside the cooker to build up to
15 lbs.  Once the pressure inside the cooker has reached 15 lbs., you want to
maintain it at that level for one complete hour.  You may have to turn down the
stove for brief periods so that the pressure doesn't rise to unsafe levels 
above 15 lbs.  When the hour has passed, turn off the stove and LET THE 
PRESSURE COOKER COOL BEFORE OPENING!  Also, don't try to rush the cooling 
process, as the jars may crack.

7.  Just before opening the pr. cooker, wash up again, maybe use rubbing alcohol
or put on surgical gloves.  Now is the time for dust masks (although I usu. use my 
shirt to keep from breathing germs on the jars).  Long sleeves and a hat or
whatever is recommended because literally millions of germs are falling off
your body at any given moment.  Sterility and the absence of drafts are of
utmost importance from here on out...
(some books recommend filling a spray bottle with a 10% bleach / 90 % water 
solution and using it to mist the air in the room to further reduce airborne 

8.  Open the pressure cooker and let the jars cool until they're pretty close 
to room temp.  If you remove the jars too soon, they will crack and you will
have to start over with new jars, so it pays to be a little patient.
You may want to tighten the lids a bit so air/germs can't contaminate the rice 
cakes.  When the jars cool off, you're ready to go...

9.  Heat your wire loop/probe/whatever until it is GLOWING RED.  Put on your 
dust mask or pull your shirt up over your nose and mouth.  

10.  Lift the lid off the jar and set it down on a sterile surface, with the 
inside face down.  OR let a friend hold the lid for you.  Make sure the person
has washed/sterilized his/her hands as well as you have.

11. Get out your sporeprint and hold it over the open jar at an acute angle.
Use the sterilized wire loop/probe to gently scrape and tap the sporeprint to 
get the spores down onto the rice cake.  If you can see dark specks fall onto 
the rice, you've done it sufficiently--anything you can see is probably several
thousand spores.  A sporeprint the size of a nickel can EASILY innoculate a 
dozen jars.  

12.  Screw the jar's lid on tightly and shake the jar until the rice cake
breaks up.  This will allow the spores to spread throughout the rice medium, 
thus increasing the chances for success.  A good way to start the process is to
inspect the jars carefully for cracks, invert the jar, and strike the lid 
against the heel of your hand.  Next, unscrew the lid until it almost comes 
off-- this allows for air to get into the jar.  I usually just screw the lid
on about 3/4 of a turn--just enough where it won't fall off easily. 

13.  When you've done this for all your jars, put the jars in a safe, clean 
place with a fairly constant temp., a dark place is best.  In 3 days-2 weeks
you should see white, fluffy mycelia appear--looks like white fuzz.  Any other
color of fuzz (green, black, etc.) is mold, and the jar should be disposed of.
I'm not kidding about this!  Certain contaminants, molds in particular, can
cause illness or even death if you ingest the contaminated 'shrooms.  It's
better to be safe than sorry, believe me.  Also be on the lookout for bacterial
infections of the rice medium.  These will often appear as colored (orange or 
pink) runny or clammy looking gunk in with the rice. These should be thrown out 
immediately as well.  Bacterial infections may also give off a kind of putrid
odor, but of course you should not be taking the lids off the jars at all 
during this stage.  Now, the rice itself will get very soft as a result of the 
pressure cooking, and the initial shaking of the jar may smear gel-looking gunk 
all over the insides of the jar.  But by comparing with the rest of the jars 
you should be able to tell the difference between this gunk and a bacterial 
infection.  Like I said before, JUST USE YOUR HEAD!!

14.  This is not actually another step because you're done!  Just sit back and
wait for nature to take its course!  Shrooms are pretty much maintenance-free
until fruiting starts to occur.  It should take anywhere from 2 weeks to 1 month
for the mycelia to completely permeate the rice medium, then it will start 
getting these stringy looking or fan shaped runners in the white fuzzy growth.  
Mushroom formation is not far off, and the jars should be getting a couple of
hours of light per day--fluorescent is OK, and natural sunlight is superb, just
make sure the jars don't get too warm.  Of course at all stages be on the 
lookout for any possible contaminants in the mycelia.  By the way, as the 
mycelia mature, they may start staining blue in spots, due to bruising, I 
think--so don't mistake this for a mold infection, but keep a close eye on any 
change in color from the white coloring.  The 'shrooms first appear as tiny 
white pinheads and then the caps will darken (in P. cubensis) to a lovely 
reddish brown.  When the 'shrooms are growing the lids on the jars should be 
very loose to allow for air exchange.
Also, mushrooms grow best in an environment with a humidity of over 90%, so if
you think that your 'shrooms may need a more moist environment, one thing to do
is to simply use a spray bottle to spray boiled or distilled water directly onto
the lids of the jars.  I find that the moisture condenses inside the jars and
runs down the inside of the jars, moisturizing the mycelia.  You could also
VERY LIGHTLY mist the surface of the rice cake if it looks dry.  You don't want 
things TOO wet, however, as this will promote mold/bacteria growth and actually
inhibit mushroom formation.  Another possible method is to replace the lids 
with a double layer of paper towel which is misted daily--although I would 
think that not having an actual lid on the jar would invite contamination.  
Just my personal opinion.  It is important that air exchange takes place in the
storage area--this becomes more important as fruiting occurs, as the mycelia 
gives off CO2 and needs O2.  Remember that CO2 is heavier than normal air, so
it might be good to tip the jars a few times a day to let the CO2 dissipate out
of the jar.


'Shrooms are "ripe" as soon as the white membrane connecting the cap to the
stem has broken somewhat, although you don't want to pick them before they have
reached their full size!  To harvest an individual mushroom, wash your hands
well--I usu. use rubbing alcohol, too.  Then take the lid off the jar and grasp
the mushroom firmly near the base.  You may need to use a pair of sterilized 
tweezers to do this, which is what I usu. do--I avoid placing germy hands 
inside the jars.  A brisk twisting motion will help to free the 'shroom from 
the mycelia.  If it is too difficult to harvest them using those methods, you
can clean you hands, wash a small knife (preferably with anti-bacterial soap),
dip the blade in alcohol, flame it for several seconds, then use the tip of the
sterilized knife to cut the mushroom as close to the rice cake as possible.


Avoid crushing fresh mushrooms before storing them.  The blue staining that is 
common in psychedelic mushrooms is evidence of oxidation--meaning that the 
active ingredients (psilocin and psilocybin) are being oxidized, too--rendering 
the 'shrooms inactive.  While refrigeration is recommended, freezing fresh 
mushrooms should be avoided, since the expansion of the freezing water in the 
cells ruptures the cell walls and thus opens them up for oxidation.  Mushrooms 
that were frozen while fresh may be an attractive blue color, but they are 
Storage of fresh mushrooms should be in a breathable container such as a paper
bag stored in a refrigerator, avoid putting fresh 'shrooms in a ziploc bag, as 
they may become slimy or moldy--ugh!  I have heard of people also storing fresh 
shrooms by chopping them up and mixing them into honey--the 'shroom honey is 
then spread on bread or whatever and eaten.  
There are a few methods of drying mushrooms, although I have found dried 
shrooms to be MUCH weaker than fresh ones.  One way to dry them is by placing 
them on a cookie sheet in an oven on the lowest temp. with the door slightly 
open.  Simply drying them in sunlight is said to work also.  
My main problem with dried shrooms is that in my experience they are not any-
where near as potent as fresh 'shrooms.  I believe the reason for this is that 
the two psychoactive ingredients (psilocin and psilocybin) are present in equal
amounts in fresh shrooms.  BUT, psilocin is an unstable compound compared to
psilocybin, and breaks down readily when exposed to heat and oxygen.  The 
normal dosage for dried shrooms is 1 - 5 grams, dried.  But I have never
had a "trip" from dried shrooms--only with the fresh stuff.  I ate 4 grams of
dried 'shrooms once and only got a buzz--like being stoned or drunk.  
So, I like my shrooms fresh, and of course, I have that luxury since I grow my
own.  Whether they are dried or fresh, there are many interesting ways to ingest
them.  My current favorite method is to blend 3-4 fresh ones in a blender with 
orange juice--the effects are fantastic and the taste is tolerable.  I believe 
this is due in part to the fact that the shrooms are almost completely 
liquified by the blending process, releasing the "good stuff" into the orange 
juice and making it more readily absorbed by the stomach.  Some people may say
that the vitamin C in the OJ also enhances the effects, but this may be just a 
myth.  Another good method, one which I have used to eat
the rice cakes, was to chop the rice cake (or shrooms), and brown them for JUST
a few seconds in butter or margarine before pouring in an omelete mixture.  
Mushroom omeletes!!  Not only a meal, but a good trip, and a tasty way to 
ingest the shrooms!  (I happen to dislike the taste of shrooms by themselves)  
Yet another method of taking shrooms is to make a milkshake in a blender, and 
add the shrooms, you can make kind of a "strawberry smoothie" in this way. 
Remember though, that dairy products may delay/block the absorption of certain
substances.   Another method of ingestion is to boil the shrooms, fresh or 
dried (or a rice cake) in a couple cups of water for about 5 minutes (until 
they have sunk, one source says), and then either add a tea bag for hot tea, 
or make Kool-Aid with the cooled water (straining out the shrooms, of course).
Sprinkling fresh or dried shrooms (chopped) onto pizza, or into spaghetti sauce
is another treat--fun for a "shroom party".  Since psilocin and psilocybin are
soluble in both water and alcohol, soaking shrooms in any liquor will release
these active ingredients into the liquor, making for a powerfully intoxicating
liquor a la' the way an "Emerald Dragon" is made with marijuana...
I have tried smoking a couple dried shroom caps, but only got the slightest buzz
from the VERY harsh smoke, no real effects to tell the truth. 
I should mention again that once shroom production has really tapered off (and
you'll be able to tell) after 2 - 3 months, the rice cake can be eaten/used, if
you closely examine it and decide that there is no green or black mold 
contaminant present.  I should note that the rice cake will probably be all 
kinds of funky colors--a mix of white, steel blue, gray, maybe even purple in 
places from spores falling on it!  I have ingested several scary-looking rice
cakes, however, with no ill effects.  Again, USE YOUR HEAD!  If in doubt, toss
it out--it's not worth a trip (no pun intended) to the hospital.  A single rice
 cake is enough for 2 - 4 people to trip on, although 2 is probably the better 
figure.  Some of my best trips were on half a rice cake chopped up and cooked 
in an omelete!  That's what I love about the rice-cake method--when the shrooms
stop growing there's no waste!  Speaking of no waste, if I ever had a rice cake
that I didn't want to risk eating I might use it to innoculate a compost pile 
or a pasture full of cow shit by inserting a small piece into each cow-pie or 
into the compost pile.  Just think of the idea of starting a culture of wild 
mushrooms in your area... :-)


This is really easy, just wash your hands well, then take a fresh shroom and 
gently twist the cap off away from the stem ( OR, I usually use a sterilized 
knife blade to cut the stem off as close to the cap as I can without touching 
it too much).  Then place the cap, gills down, on a sterile card or piece of
glass.  Cover the cap and card with a clean, small container to keep drafts 
from blowing the spores away, and to prevent dust/contaminants from settling on
the card/glass.  I usu. use a small juice glass for this purpose.  Leave the
covered 'shroom cap on the card/glass overnight and, voila!  I suggest folding
the card the next day and keeping it in an airtight container (small ziploc bag)
in a refrigerator.  I have been told that spore prints will keep for up to a
year in an airtight refrigerated (not frozen) environment.  From personal 
experience I know that they are still viable after 3 months.  Oh, by the way,
try to find some use for the 'shroom cap after you've collected the spores 
from it--it's still psychoactive, so I'm sure you can think of something to do
with it...  :-)


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