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Common mistakes

Some pitfalls to be avoided.

This document will briefly touch upon the common mistakes made by newbies when using the pf tek.

Note: One of the biggest reasons people fail is because they skip steps or change this or that in the tek. Some parts of the process are concrete and others you can experiment with. It is best to first come to grips with the process before innovation :)

Did I make a poor choice of jar?

A wide-mouth half-pint (~234ml) is recommended for vermiculite and brown rice flour cakes (PF TEK). Larger jars will take longer obviously and with Vermiculite BRF this could lead to contamination.

Is my mixture too wet?

You must gradually add water until saturated, then add the flour. If you saturate the mix too much, either add more substrate to account for this or alternatively microwave for a minute or two uncovered.

My mixture is not airy/looks like sludge?

Use large chunk vermiculite, and don't shake or compress the substrate by squashing it down. You will learn throughout the process that fresh air is important to healthy mycelium growth, the more you pack the substrate the less air is available to it.

Water gets in during sterilization?

Make sure to cover your jars with foil! Don't fill your pressure cooker up too high; most pressure cookers only require about an inch of water for more than an hour of cook time.

Incomplete Sterilization?

Give it an extra bit of time to be sure. A stitch in time saves nine. If you are forced to sterilize at a lower setting, always add more time. Remember, if using a pressure cooker, read the directions! If they are not available, a general rule is to let the cooker come to pressure, then start your timer;)

Inoculating Too Soon?

Let the jars get to room temperature after boiling/pressure cooking. Mycelium has a thermal death around 106?F (41.1?C). Your hands are not great temperature gauges, so do not inject until you are absolutely sure they have cooled.

No pins even 10 days after birth?

Check your three triggers (light, temp, air exchange) and inspect for contaminations and pests. And make sure you have a pinning strategy! Try to control every factor and you will succeed.

The 86-degree myth

Too often I see people posting that they keep their jars at 86F and are having problems. This is because 86F is too warm for jars.

The explaination- the original experiment was done on agar plates. Growth was measured at different temperatures, and it was found that the mycelium grew fastest at 86F.

The problem is, that was in an agar plate and not a jar. On the flat plane of mycelium in the agar plate, temperatures remain constant. In a jar environment, the interior of the jar becomes warmer than the exterior due to heat generated by the growing mycelia. So if you keep a jar at 86F, the interior of the jar could get to 90F and above, more if the jars are stacked tightly.

Keeping the jars between 70 and 75F avoids this overheating, and produces the best results in jars.

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