Once upon a time, I grew some B+ mushrooms. Then I wanted to do it again, and that's when my foray into mycology started unraveling.
To be fair, I used an all in one grow bag to grow those mushrooms, but I didn't know anything about FAE (fresh air exchange) vs humidity or how using a heating mat can dry out everything while still making it look like there's plenty of moisture everywhere. I feel bad for those poor things... they were alternately dehydrated and drowned, but they got out a couple of flushes, and my husband and I got a few trips.
Then I simply tried to grow some more. After failure upon failure upon failure, it turns out at some point I had started cultivating trich instead of cubensis. Boy did it suck to learn that.
So yesterday I sterilized all my cultures (except for one LC (liquid culture) that looks so clean and pure), trashed everything that was in progress, and threw all my jars and lids into the dishwasher.
I'd still like to have some mushrooms, though, so now what?
1st Priority -- A Clean Culture
Right now my highest priority is to get a clean culture of some kind of cube. I have a LC of Purple Mystic (from Hawk) in the fridge that looks so pretty and white it could almost be a snow globe.
Is it clean though? How do I know?
I also have a few janky spore syringes that I'm sure are dirty, and hopefully I'll be getting a fancy spore print in the near future.
The budding mycologist can use agar to verify that cultures are clean. If they're not, clean mycelium can be transferred away from contaminates until you end up with a clean culture. Agar is great for other things, but keeping my priority in mind, I want to focus on getting a clean culture.
I'm only now starting with agar because I only recently got a SAB (still air box). To use agar, you really need some way of working sterile -- usually a SAB or a flow hood. My SAB is fairly small, though, so I'm going to try a version of agar that does not need to be poured inside of a SAB.
Pasty plates are basically agar which has been cooked with nutrients, spooned into containers, then sterilized in a PC (pressure cooker).
For my agar containers, I decided to use 1/2 pint wide mouth jars.
For my agar recipe, I used 3 mg agar agar powder, 2.5 mg LME (light malt extract), a pinch of nutritional yeast, and 150 ml of sterile oat water (water I had cooked oats in then sterilized). I also added some food coloring, but instead of getting a purply color, I ended up with something more pinkish with light flecks from the yeast.
This was only the first issue I encountered when making my Pasty plates. I didn't quite use enough agar in each jar, so in some there is little to no agar right in the middle of some jars. Also, none of the jars are level. I'm assuming this is because of how the jars sit on the rack in my pressure cooker, and I'm not sure there's much I can do about that. In addition, I use a small, electric pressure canner that reaches 15 psi. It looks like an instant pot ate another instant pot. It's not very smart, so instead of turning down the heat way down once pressure is reached, it just continually vents pressure throughout the cook. This means I have to add a lot of water, relatively speaking, to keep the pot from boiling dry during longer cooking times. Since my jars were essentially empty, I'm guessing some of my jars may have been floating for at least part of the time.
I cooked my jars at 15 psi for 35 mins (since I added the yeast, I wanted to sterilize for a slightly longer time.) One of my jars ended up taking on water, but I ended up with 7 jars of perfectly useable (hopefully) though irregular agar.
My first priority is to test my LC. I'll do that today. I guess you're supposed to add a drop or two of liquid then use an inoculation loop to streak it across the plate? Maybe I'll do that for 2 jars and then just put a drop or two in the middle for the 3rd jar.
That leaves me 4 jars and several syringes. I'll just pick one of them, whichever I can see more spore clusters in, I guess. Or maybe I should do 2 syringes with 2 jars each.
Should these jars be stored upside down to culture? What if there's liquid running around in there from an overenthusiastic syringe?