PF Substrate Questions

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By Krytos (Krytos) on Thursday, September 13, 2001 - 06:53 pm:

When I prepared my jars They seemed pretty Dry, what level of moisture should the substrate be? What will happen if they jars are too dry? Hopefully they are ok, I am just getting paranoid because I have never done this before, and I want it to work sooooo badly......

Thanks for all your help,


By Some Body (Texasshroomer) on Thursday, September 13, 2001 - 08:54 pm:

I just follow the typical PF directions. I use

1/2 cup of Vermiculite
1/4 cup of the Brown Rice Flour "BRF"
1/4 cup of Spring Water

For each individual jar.

Follow this and you should be ok


See: Simple Cubie Tek

By Saluras (Saluras) on Thursday, September 13, 2001 - 10:38 pm:

i'll say one thing, it's better to be a little dry than super wet. my first attempt years ago i made the mistake of adding to much water the first time out. i thought how could this possibly work when the mix was just barely sticking together- big mistake to add too much water.

just let the jars go and take notes, you'll see what works best and learn.

good luck:)

By Krytos (Krytos) on Friday, September 14, 2001 - 05:03 pm:

the Formula I used was on this site, under the Simple Cubensis Growing Guide. It told me to mix it all up in a big bowl for my 12 jars. The formula was:

8 cups of Vermiculite
3 cups of Ground Brown Rice
3 cups of Water

this is a little different ratio than you gave me, its not that far off though, should be fine huh?


By Krytos (Krytos) on Friday, September 14, 2001 - 11:18 pm:

the tep is right at 75 F are there any ways that dont involve heating sources to raise the temp? insulation or something....I dont want to start any fires in my little Dorm.


By Brettiejams (Brettiejams) on Saturday, September 15, 2001 - 05:26 am:

I think it is rather impossible to raise the temperature of anything without some kind of heat source so it sounds like you're stuck with 75 degress.... but don't worry, that'll just slow the process down a bit, but you should be fine.

I always use 1 part water, to 1 part BRF, to 2 parts verm.... works well for me and I always do them all at once.

2 cups verm. to 1 cup BRF. to 1 cup water does 10 half pints just about perfect.

If you think your substrate was a bit dry, just dunk the cakes in water for about 6-8 hours at birth and you'll be ready to rock with fully hydrated mycellium ready for a healthy first flush.

By Krytos (Krytos) on Monday, September 17, 2001 - 08:39 pm:

I think I may have Boiled some of the moisture out of the jars because they were touching the bottom of the pot. doh. the one I opened had a little moisture though, So I will let them go a few more days to see what happens...



By saluras (Saluras) on Sunday, September 16, 2001 - 07:19 pm:

i opened some sterlized jars without innoculation for use in building a huge cake in another container. the consistency was like a sticky sponge, moist but not soggy, it was kinda strange because i hadn't realized that the sterlized cake does hold together, when i popped them out they held the shape of the jar.

anyway, they were like a sponge, a little sticky but not like tape.

i use:
1/4 cup brown rice
1/2 - 2/3 cup verm
1/4 cup water

when your done mixing the substrate you may be amazed at how dry it seems. when i first started i made the mistake of adding more water and failed.

do you have the tek at psylocybe_fanaticus_tek.htm

if you follow that exactly your almost guaranteed to suceed.

By quote: (Quote) on Wednesday, November 14, 2001 - 04:57 pm:

i put a tablespoon of verm. in the bottom, leveled out.
then the rice mix fill to the bottom of the threads of the jar.
then verm. to the brim.
the rice need not be organically grown, if that's what you mean.
any brown rice should work.

By Brad (Raze) on Saturday, November 17, 2001 - 03:24 pm:

Sorry to hassle you all with another question, but when I prepared my substrate on wednesday I used maxium sterile conditions. I did the whole bathroom wiped down with alcohol, then nuked with lysol. On top of thta I had a long sleeved, hooded shirt on, with gloves and a dust mask on. I did this since I wanted my first batch to be totally successful. Now I'm wondering, do you realy need this? Can I prepare it just anywhere, like on the kitchen table with my bare hands? Someone said once you could hock a luggie in there and it wouldnt matter if you pressure cooked it.

And another question, PF says to put the verm in, then BRF on top of that, then pour water in. Some say to put the verm and water together to get it absorbed. Some say to mix the dry stuff well, then add water, some say to mix the BRF with water to maake a soup, then pour into the verm.... Which one should i use? I went with PF last time

Thanks again

By Lichen (Lichen) on Saturday, November 17, 2001 - 03:35 pm:

I mix mine with my hands in a large bowl, non-sterile, then steam for an hour. No hair net needed

By quote: (Quote) on Saturday, November 17, 2001 - 03:47 pm:

it'd prolly be best to stick closely to the directions until you've grown a few batches. in other words, stick to PF TEK.

By Brad (Raze) on Saturday, November 17, 2001 - 05:50 pm:

Uh... I'm not talking about innoculating, I mean making the BRF.
No matter, I just prepared 10 jars in my room, worked out fine I thinks. I love this new canning funnel I grabbed yesterday, It stops anything from touching the top inch of the jar, so I dont have to wipe off the crap with alcohol to stop it from contaming then working like a wick down to the good BRF supply. That and it made the whole process cleaner, and I didnt have to even aim for the jar.

Anyways, ran out of verm, gotta go to the store now.

By Nan (Nanook) on Saturday, November 17, 2001 - 08:23 pm:

I mix on the kitchen table with no sterile precautions. The rice is full of contams already, it is the Sterilization that kills the contams, and after the jars are sterilized then you want to handle the jars infrequently: Inoculate them in a Clean Room and then Incubate them in a clean place. See: Foil Covers

By greenthumb (Greenthumb) on Saturday, November 17, 2001 - 08:24 pm:

I'm not sure but I don't remember the PF tek specifying wiping the jar edge with alcohol.
That might be a bad or uselessly risky thing.
Good luck

By Brad (Raze) on Saturday, November 17, 2001 - 09:16 pm:

Nan - thanks, I just did it in my room this time. Way easier when you're sitting down, rathar than hunched over the counter.

Greenthumb - Here's a quote from the MMGG:
"Step 4:
The top 1/2 inch of the glass on each culture jar needs to be cleaned. No substrate material can be left on the glass above the compressed cake. First wipe it with your finger to get the bulk of the material off of it and then do a thorough job with a moistened paper towel. The glass needs to be spotless. The reason this is necessary is that bacteria and mold can use any material left there as a wick to infect the main substrate body."
I know it doesnt mention alcohol, but I know others who have suggested using this here. Kills the contams that stick to the glass. I let it air for a minute so there was none left on the jar. Besids, I'm sure that the heat in a PC would make any last drop of alcohol into a vapour, seeing how it'll do it at room temp.

By greenthumb (Greenthumb) on Sunday, November 18, 2001 - 01:01 am:

you are correct. This is a quote from psylocybe fanaticus "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."

I'm sure that keeping it clean is the key. I'm also sure that the MMGG teachs a fine tek.
I still see no mention of using alcohol at that point in either tek.
I'm not the most experienced grower in the joint, BUT, I have fucked up enough to know that you need to follow the tek for success. AFTER you get it down, then move on and innovate.
I was not saying you were wrong.
I hope you have found a tek that works great all the time!!
I would just hate to see you loose a bunch of hard work because you THOUGHT it would work.

I wish you all the best and tons of luck.

By Brad (Raze) on Sunday, November 18, 2001 - 03:44 am:

I know I specifically read to wipe it with alcohol, but where I do not know. WHen I find it, I'll tell you. But if you thinkk about it, alcohol evaporates at room temp, a pressure cooker would fry any alochol residues.
Besides, it only touches where the verm touches. And I only wiped it, not doused it in mass quantities of alcohol

By urok2 (Imok) on Sunday, November 18, 2001 - 03:47 am:

My 2 cents would be that the most important parts are:
1 Clean the top of the jar of any substrate that splashed on it (I like the canning jar funnel idea) with your finger, a towel or whatever it takes
2 Make sure there is no extra verm fill on the outside threads to prevent the cap from screwing on tight
3 Make sure there is enough foil on the top to cover the jar at least below the bottom of the rim of the lid (heavy duty foil is best)
4 Don't fill the bottom of the PC too high so there is no boil over into the jar(s) on the bottom level
5 Make sure you cook the jar(s) under presure long enough (don't scrimp on this step as it's the most important of all)
I have messed up a few in my time and I have gotten it right a few times as well.

By Mr. Tambourine Man (Tambourine_Man) on Monday, November 26, 2001 - 11:45 pm:

Hi, I recently read about a few different substrates that I've never heard of before and I realized that there are other substrate compositions out there than the PF Standard and PF Max Fruiting Formula ones. Which is the best substrate out of all of them for the Invitro tek?

By quote: (Quote) on Tuesday, November 27, 2001 - 12:21 am:

i use pf max formula.
most other mixtures contain whole grains,
and are more suitable for trays/casings rather than as cakes.

By Fanaticus (Fanaticus) on Tuesday, November 27, 2001 - 01:09 pm:

I have been suggesting to use less water than the Max formula, but i am changing my mind. I think the max is the best. The water condensation is easy to deal with, so it really is not a problem at all.

So I do suggest the PF max formula.

1/2 cup verm
1/4 cup brown rice powder
55 - 60 cc water (1/4 cup)

The FBI used that formula and even they got good results.


By Fanaticus (Fanaticus) on Tuesday, November 27, 2001 - 01:58 pm:

Here is the PF max formula at work
for the nonshroomer bunch at the
FBI lab.  (excerpts from forensic.htm)

A mixture of one fourth cup brown
rice powder, one half cup vermiculite
and one fourth cup distilled water was
prepared for each half pint jar.
This mixture was placed into the
jars and covered with dry vermiculite.

Eight jars per week were inoculated
with I0 mL of spore solution. This
was done for 9 weeks for a total of 72

The samples were transferred to
terrariums after the pinheads became
too large for the Jars they were
growing in.

There were some noticeable differences
in the samples grown under indirect light
versus the samples grown in the
dark. All samples started to show
mycelium growth at 4 days. The first
signs of fruiting bodies were observed to
be from 19 to 25 days in the samples
that were grown under indirect light
with the average being 21 days. The
first signs of fruiting bodies were
observed from 23 to 45 days for the
samples that were grown in the dark, with the
average being 26 days. The samples that
were grown under indirect light had primordia
which grew faster and
larger. They were plump, yellow in color
with brown tips. The samples that were
grown in the dark had small
white primordia that were skinny and long.
The coloring was off-white with only a
few having dark brown tips. The
mushrooms that were grown under indirect
light had thick stipes with yellowish to
chestnut colored caps. The
mushrooms that were grown in the dark
had lighter stipes that were much skinnier
than the mushrooms grown in
the light. The caps of the mushrooms
grown in the dark were also lighter in
color than the mushrooms grown
under indirect light. Psilocyn and/or
psilocybin was detected in the mycelium knots,
the pinheads and the mature
mushrooms of all samples grown either in the dark or the light.

By Lichen (Lichen) on Tuesday, November 27, 2001 - 02:22 pm:

I agree, the max formula is the best; and the water isn't a problem. In fact, I'm glad you've stopped second-guessing yourself; you had it perfect the first time around with the 1-1-2 formula

By Rick (Npno) on Friday, November 30, 2001 - 05:46 am:

I was wondering which formula for preparing verm. and brf would work best.

1/8 cup of brown rice powder (Health food stores and co-ops)
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

Also would it matter if the jars contain more brf than the stated ammount

By relic (Relic) on Friday, November 30, 2001 - 05:59 am:

the basic formula i've always used is a ratio of 1 part brf, 1 part water, 2 parts verm.
that is pf's max fruit formula in a nutshell.

i notice you are using brf that is very fine, you may get by better using the reg. pf formula or slightly more brf than water. i have always had great results w/ the max formula, but i grind my own brf in a coffee grinder so it's chunky and requires a touch more water.

By Rick (Npno) on Friday, November 30, 2001 - 06:09 am:


another question if i decide to use tap water will the fact that i have a water softner affect the mycillia growth?

By ggg (Ggg) on Friday, November 30, 2001 - 06:39 am:

I had worried thoughts about my softener as well.
DON"T--- check this out.
Get your water for your jars in the evening because if your unit is not an antique your softener cycles, or should cycle, in the middle of the night. This means your softest water will be had in the mornings.

PS- if you can, try the switch from salt to potassium. It lasts longer, tastes better, and is better for you and your water system. You can usually get it pretty cheap at sears. If you must use salt use blocks(mined) not pellets(evaporated). The blocks are much cleaner.

Hope I helped.
Good luck and stay SUPER STERILE!

By urok2 (Imok) on Saturday, December 01, 2001 - 04:49 am:

I belive the formula is in the archives but...
If I remember the last time I made up jars it was:
Using a case of 1pt big mouth ball jars I would start my prepration with their lids (if they weren't already preped from previous use).
I would use a hammer, block of wood and 9p nail.
I would put four holes in each lid just in from the inner crease on the lid. The holes would be positioned across each other (like a cross).
If the jars had been already used I would generally clean them with a jar brush and then final clean them in a dishwasher.
Then I would start the PC going (tap water a third of the way up a test jar) and start making up the PFjars.
1/4 cup brown rice (cheep storebought)
1/4 cup water (use cheep store brand bottled to be sure)
1/2 cup verm (small flake if pos)
I would then take the rice, enought for six jars (1&1/2 cups) at a time
and grind it in a heavy duty mixer/grinder (healthfood style) using the pulse/grind setting till it was an even consistancy.
Then I dry mixed the rice powder and 3cups verm by spreading the rice powder onto the verm spread
in a pyrex meatloaf pan (washed and dryed)
And then used a (dinner) fork to make sure the rice powder and verm were evenly mixed (even color thrughout) by eye
Then I sprinkled 1&1/2cups water evenly accross the surface and mixed it in, again with a fork,
breaking up any clumping and fluffing the mix, till again evenly mixed by eye.
I would use the fork to fill each ball jar to the bottom of the threads with the mix.
I would level the mix with the tips of the fork if needed and make sure I hadn't gotten any mix on the space between the bottom of the thread and the top of the jar.
If I had I would use a paper towel to clean the mix off.
This rarely happened since the mix was moist and I only put a forkfull in the jar at a time.
Then I would fill the rest of the jar to the top with more verm (using a knife to level it off).
I would then put a prepaired lid on the top and screw on the rim tightly.
You can put a small amount of verm in the bottom of the jar (tblspoon) and shake it to get it level before filling with the mix and then the final layer of verm for a type of double caseing.
Final Prep
I would then use heavy duty alum foil torn into squares and cover the tops of each jar tightly (trying to cover at least below the rim of the jar).
Then I would fill the PC with as many jars as would fit and cook them for approx 45min (counted after the steam starts comming out of the hole in the top) with no weight to create any great presure. To be sure use at least a 5lb presure control weight.
Well that was pretty long.
Again the tek is in the archives and some would say to make one jar, from start to finish, at a time. This method seemed to work well for me.
Good luck to you :)

By urok2 (Imok) on Saturday, December 01, 2001 - 04:55 am:

Sorry, long post...
I would put four holes in each lid just in from the inner crease on the lid.
The holes would be positioned across from each other (like a cross + or an X depending how you looked at the lid).
The holes are for the jar's inoculation.

By Liberty_Caps (Liberty_Caps) on Tuesday, December 04, 2001 - 08:34 pm:

I have heard 2 things about BRF first, I hear you should grind it to a FINE powder..
then some people say that it works better in CHUNKS...
I would think that the powder would provide more food faster/easy'er

well because I just made 8 jars but the rice was chunky and the franks style vermiculite was bigger then my pervious brand I bought.
it says it's profesiniol grade

well and clarification would be great thanx!!!!!

By Brad (Raze) on Tuesday, December 04, 2001 - 09:00 pm:

Lol, was gonna ask the same thing myself, as I just bought some long grain brown rice today, rather then ground brown rice

By quote: (Quote) on Tuesday, December 04, 2001 - 10:36 pm:

fine to slightly chunky, it all works great.
i use the medium grade horticultural vermiculite

By Brad (Raze) on Tuesday, December 04, 2001 - 11:36 pm:

I've only found two sources of verm thus far. One comes in a brown 5L bag, that usually contains holes, which I used for my first 22 jars. NOw I picked up another 5L bag today but form CDN Tire, it comes in a ziplock sealed bag, which means no more verm falling all over the place, its the same coursness as the other though, its mixed from large to small chunks... Does it really matter? My jars are only a week or so from fruiting, and have colonised fine.

By Snoopy (Snoopy) on Tuesday, December 04, 2001 - 11:43 pm:

The vermiculite that I use is like almost a fine dust, it has holes in the bag and if you sneezed into a pile of it, it would go everywhere... sorta messy. I have wondered if that is the most efficent since it gets compacted easier allowing less air. I also just buy the brf directly from a natural food store... over all I have had pretty good success... dunno if I answered your questions tho.

By Brad (Raze) on Wednesday, December 05, 2001 - 12:21 am:

Wouldnt more airspace be better?

By Cragith Kilbonith (Kilborn) on Wednesday, December 05, 2001 - 05:40 am:

for substrate you want a more fine grade brad, like a dust ;) i know earl may's 20 lb bags are great!!! a chunkier verm is used for casings.

By Nan (Nanook) on Wednesday, December 05, 2001 - 09:12 am:

You don't want it too fine, any medium - coarse or mixture of grades will work. Fine verm is harder to mix up and compacts too easily for my tastes (but it works), medium verm packs perfectly, coarse verm is harder to get a even mix/pack (but it still works).

By ShrooMaster (Shroomaster) on Sunday, December 09, 2001 - 04:29 am:

i used to use hoffman horticultural vermiculite. comes in a 10 quart bag [for $4] and always got monster flushes.

Shroom Glossary