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Nan (Nanook)
Posted on Thursday, November 01, 2001 - 03:36 pm:Edit Post Quote Text Delete Post Print Post Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Tips for Rye Grain

If you try rye grain and it gives you contamination trouble, the problem is most likely encysted spores.

Soak your grain for 24 hrs before sterilizing. This will "hatch" the encased spores so that they'll be susceptible to sterilizing. Be sure to get a good brand of organic rye grain from a health food store or co-op. Arrowhead is very good and doesn't always require soaking, but it's a good practice anyway.

45 min. to 1 hr. at 15 PSI works well for sterilizing Rye grain.

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Stalled jars

As occasionally happens, a jar will stall with only a little bit of substrate uncolonized. It may be that there is some yeast or bacteria (usually "wet spot") preventing the growth or the air ran out or it's too wet or dry or ?
Instead of throwing them out, some experiments were tried:

A regular case knife was wrapped with Al foil, boiled for 15 minutes, and placed (still wrapped) into the transfer chamber. The stalled jar is sprayed with lysol, wiped down and put in the chamber. A box of Saran wrap is also sprayed, wiped, and put in the chamber. After the air in the chamber has turned over a few times, the jar is inverted and the cake is birthed. The case knife is drawn from the Al foil sheath and used to cut away most of the uncolonized substrate. Then a length of Saran wrap is pulled from the roll and immediately placed on the exposed substrate. Press the plastic wrap down gently to contact the cake. Place the cake in a reasonably clean environment to finish colonizing. Typically the cake puts on a burst of growth and colonizes the remaining substrate under the plastic wrap in just a few days. This process has worked 3 times in a row now, so it wasn't just some lucky fluke. A transfer box with filtered air was used and is probably necessary for this tek to succeed.

P.S. This process has worked well many times since the above was written. The yields are somewhat less than a perfect run, but that's to be expected. This technique has also worked well when perfomed in front of the output from a HEPA filter. In the case of "wet spot" bacteria or yeast, the contaminants are mostly cut away and the rest die out (apparently) because of the change in environment. These are the only 2 contaminants that I've seen that will halt the growth, but not over run the existing mycelium. They will co-exist for a long time.

Some Helpful Products

Filter tops:

There are some filters made for floor register vents (available at Walmart) which make great tops for the jars. They greatly improve the air exchange and cut down (or eliminate) stalled jars. The ones tested are "AmericanAirFilter tm". They are a non-woven material like a very fine Scotchbrite "scrubbie."

Just cut into pieces to fit the jars and screw the band on over them. One or two layers work well. It is recommended that you cover the top loosely with Al Foil during sterilization and incubation. [See: Polyfill Lids]

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Germ-X:

This is an alcohol based emollient clear gel that sterilizes, then needs no rinsing or drying. Gentle on hands and dries clean. (also at Walmart)

Drying & Storage

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Here's one easy way to dry the fruit.
The fan is a small 4" fan from Walmart.
For really cracker dry results, a Desiccator of some kind is called for.

This setup works well for Predrying. Then one can use a desiccator to make them Cracker Dry. This setup also works fairly well without a desiccator, but they have the consistency of Stale Crackers. If left in the pan for about 36 hours, they get pretty darn dry. (except in very humid environments.) For storage, put them in plastic bags or mason jars, fill with CO2 and then put them into the freezer.

Making CO2

One can make the CO2 by putting several Tbsps of baking soda in an empty dist. water jug, then pouring in a slosh of vinegar. The jug fills with CO2 which can be poured into the plastic bags with the dried fruit. Do this in a draft free area and just imagine that you are pouring honey. ( Be careful not to pour any of the vinegar/baking soda in) To test, light a match and put it down into the open bag, mason jar, or distilled water jug to see if it's full of CO2. It should go out as soon as it enters the bag. CO2 is heavier than air and it will displace the air in the bag as you pour it in.

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