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Doc34`s Wild Bird Seed Tek

Outdated Grain Prep, do not use unless you're in the year 1992

This pictorial gives step by step directions for preparing wild bird seed to be used as mushroom spawn or substrate.

Materials Needed:

Pressure Cooker

Wild Bird Seed(WBS) , for instance Pennington's brand

Pint or Quart Canning jars




Coffee filters

Aluminum foil


First, take all of the jars that are to be used and wash them really good and allow them to dry.

Open your bag of WBS and pour enough of it into a jar so as to fill it up little less than 1/2 way.

Dump this into a colander(strainer)

and repeat for each jar used.

Cleaning the WBS: The purpose of these first few steps is to thoroughly clean your WBS and to remove any and as much of the unwanted additives as possible and to remove any unwanted seeds such as the Black Sunflower Seeds along with any 'Floaters'

Rinse: Run warm tap water over your WBS and mix it up under the water, really well.

Wash: Place the WBS into a large pot and fill with water, covering the WBS completely over with about 2 inches of water on top.

Now, you see all of those seeds?

They are Millet(Whitish/yellow)



and Sunflower(Black)

Now, the ones that are floating on top of the water needs to be taken off and discarded, get them all out of there-yup-everyone of them.

They are mostly just seeds that never fully developed and they are hollow except for the sunflower seeds and they have no use, well, to me that is, LOL. Now take your hand and stir, swirl, mix, toss, whatever, to mix that WBS in that water. This serves two purposes:
  1. It brings the rest of the "floaters"to the top
  2. It helps to "clean" it even more. Keep swirling your hand and picking out all of the floaters, try to get all of the them and every sunflower seed you see, especially the 'black' ones.

Rinse: Dump your WBS back into your strainer (colander) and run warm tap water over it again to rinse.

Soak: Dump the WBS back into your large pot, fill with water, covering the seed with about 2 inches of water.

Cover with a lid and allow this to set for 12-14 hours at room temperature. I usually just let mine soak overnight and I find it works well. The soaking time can be adjusted to your taste though. Some may find that it takes longer, while others find it takes less.
Soaking serves two purpose: There are certain bacterial endospores that are very  heat resistant. Meaning, that simply pressure cooking the WBS will not kill them all. So, we allow the grain to soak which in turn germinates those unwanted endospores. Making them vulnerable to the high temps of the PC and much easier to destroy. Secondly the grain is soaked with water to some extent.
At this point you may notice a slight 'fermentation' smell coming from your WBS. This is normal and will not effect the outcome.

Rinse: Now, if you will notice the water has a RUSTY look to it.

This is the remaining trash (unwanted additives) that we don't want. So dump this back into your strainer and rinse thoroughly.

Simmer: This serves one purpose and one purpose only - to  soak the WBS in order  to achieve the 'perfect' water content for WBS.
When you simmer, you are forcing the grain to absorb as much water as it can hold without exploding any grains (there may be a few exploded kernels, thats expected-just not too many). This step, from my experience, is the best way to do that. There is no guessing, estimating, or wondering if you got the right water content, simmering does that for you.
Load the WBS back into your pot and turn on heat to medium low. Once you see steam rising, start your timer and simmer for 20-30 minutes. 
A  rule of thumb as to when the grain has simmered enough, is when about 5% of the kernels have started to disintegrate-'pop up'. Stir the grain occasionally during the simmering phase and scoop a  spoon-fool of the kernels and observe for exploded kernels.

DO NOT VIGOROUSLY BOIL THE WBS! If you do boil it, it will cause the grains to explode more than usual and will hinder your efforts. You can stir this as it simmers to keep the grains on the bottom from exploding during this process. When it is done simmering it should look like this.

Rinse: This is your final rinse. You should notice at this point that the WBS has swollen. That was caused by the simmering process. It is now 'hydrated' to the fullest.

This step serves one purpose. To remove any 'gel-like substance' that has formed on the grain from simmering. I like to use cold water at this point(preference). If you don't rinse at this point, your grain will have a 'slimy' appearance when PC'd and you don't want that cause it will slow colonization , so rinse it well.

Drain: Dump your WBS back into your strainer and allow this to set and drain for 20 minutes. You may want to cover it with the lid or foil to keep the top layer from drying out during this step.

Preparation of jars:

Lids: Take a 1/4 inch drill bit and drill a hole through the middle of the disc.

If you are 'good', you can do all of them at once, but, I would only recommend that after you feel comfortable with the drill. You could cut yourself on the discs as the drill bit has a tendency to 'grab' and the discs will spin with the bit. So just to play it safe-do one at a time.
Take a small amount of polyfill and wad it up so you can stick it in the hole you just made in the lid and pull it into the hole, just to where it is snug.

Not too tight. If you get it too tight it will be hard to inoculate it. I have bent needles because of having too tight, so just make sure it is 'snug'. I like to take a pair of scissors and cut off the ends that protrude from the discs. It is, in my opinion, a cosmetic thing - just for looks (neater appearance). 

Tyvek: Cut enough to cover each jar respectively and set it aside.

Foil: prepare two layers of foil for each jar, just like you did with the Tyvek.

Load jars: Load each jar 1/2 way with the WBS.

Take an apply the Tyvek over the mouth of the jar .
This Tyvek layer offers an additional protection from airborne contaminants in addition to the Polyfill filter. If your house is reasonably clean, you can omit it.

Apply the disc/polyfill filter, put on outer lid ring, and trim off the excess Tyvek from around the lid.

This is done for a neater appearance also,  and cover with two layers of foil.

Pressure Cook: Load jars into your pressure cooker on top of the rack that comes with your pc.

If it doesn't have a rack, put a piece of cloth down on the bottom so your jars do not touch the bottom. If they do they will crack from the heat. Then add enough water to your PC so that it only comes up to about 1-1 1/2 inches up the sides of the jars. You don't want to put too much, but yet you don't want it to dry out either. About 1-1 1/2 inches up the sides of the jars is sufficient. Put on the lid of the PC. Turn heat on medium high and allow it to vent for 5 minutes. Then close the vent and allow it to build pressure. Once the weight starts to 'wobble' reduce heat to medium low and PC for 90-120 minutes at 15 psi. 

Turn off the heat and allow the PC to cool enough to reduce the pressure. DO NOT manually try to release the pressure. Let it reduce the pressure on its own.
Depending on the pressure cooker size and the amount of jars this takes from 10-20 minutes.
If you never used a pressure cooker before, read this document for more information on pressure cooking:
Correct pressure cooker use

Shake: Once the pressure has come back to normal  you can open the PC. Open it and remove each jar, while they are still quite hot. As you take out each one, shake the crap out of it. This lets you redistribute the grains evenly. Some have settled on the bottom and look 'wetter' than the ones on top. This shaking will make them all uniform.

Cool: Allow them to cool overnight. At least until they are cool to the touch. Although they appear 'cool', it doesn't mean that the center of the jars are. So, that is why I like to wait 'overnight', or at least 12-14 hours at room temp. Do not place hot jars in your refrigerator to aid in cooling them down-this could crack the jars, rendering them useless and losing your WBS. Just be patient and allow them to cool on their own.

inoculation: Once they are cool, it is time to inoculate. This is easy. Soak a paper towel with alcohol(ethanol pr propanol) . 70% is preferred, but, 91% is fine too.

Take your syringe and flame the needle until it is glowing red.

Then immediately wipe it clean with an alcohol soaked paper towel and leave the paper towel wrapped around the needle.    Do not do this under any circumstance.  Use a Still air box and ignore the next several steps.

Then, remove foil from jar, hold syringe and alcohol soaked paper towel close to the polyfill

and in one motion, remove from alcohol soaked paper towel and insert the needle into the polyfill and through the Tyvek

Inject 1-2 cc/ml into jar. When you remove the needle, hold the alcohol soaked paper towel over the polyfill and remove the syringe and immediately wrap with the paper towel

lay it aside. and cover jar with 2 coffee filters and secure with a rubber band(or tape)   No.  Coffee filters are stupid noob shit.

Repeat for each jar used. The reason I like to use the coffee filters is because when you insert the needle into the jar, it creates a small hole that could allow for contams to enter. I like to play it safe.

Shake: Once you inoculate all of the jars, take and shake each one vigorously to distribute the spores throughout the WBS

Then incubate jars at 70-75F

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