VIking-PIrate-NInja-GYpsies. Go ahead, try and find a stereotype for us.

Open-Source Protein part II

Kevin here.

So there’s a story involving some hurricanes hitting Norway in the winter of ’11-’12, infrastructure disruption, and mail that was way late.

My parents sent us an oyster mushroom growing kit produced by the good fellows at Backtotheroots.com as a Christmas gift.  I am a major fan of the company and what they are doing, and I have cultivated mushrooms in the past. . .the major block for continuing production (or for starting production in the first place) is the cleanliness issue.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a slob, and I enjoy living in a clean house, but the cost for starting and maintaining a sterile lab environment are prohibitive to most, not to mention the investment of time that is required.  So this project (“Open-Source Protein”) is setting to the task of finding a method (or family of methods) to start and maintain cultivation of this wonderfully healthy source of protein.

So in the 2 months since we finally received our package the loose timeline is as follows:
The project starts

T+7 days:  We followed the instructions (cut a “+” and soak the culture-bag.  Mist twice a day, expose to indirect sunlight) to no avail.  The culture block started secreting a yellow brine, with no other activity

T+9 days:  A snap decision is made to save the culture, which is only secreting more of this discharge into its bag.  Some jars filled 2/3 with coffee grounds are sterilized in a pressure cooker.  12 hours later, with a clean knife wiped in a strong vinegar solution, small sections of the culture block are cut off, and crumbled into the coffee grounds.

T+12 days:  Two of the jars of coffee grounds have been successfully inoculated, one of them is showing the first signs that it has been infested with the dreaded Trichoderma mold.  It is immediately disposed of, and the tupper box holding the other two jars is wiped clean.  Turns out that sterilization isn’t the way to go, especially with open air (non-sterile/lab conditions) culturing.  I’m not so used to being over-effective at things 😛

T+16 days:  Several more jars have been inoculated (thanks to the local café for their spent coffee-ground donations.  We can’t drink THAT much coffee, try as we might).  The two jars from the first batch are fully covered with mycelium, and are now being naturalized to other foodstuffs (a small sliver of a fresh, well-brewed kombucha culture in one, and  some cat-hair in the other (hair contains protein, and oyster mushrooms can eat most anything, they just have to develop the enzymes first).  Now the great ironic fun:  The original block (which we’ve been continuing to mist/fan 2wice a day and keeping in a clear tupper box) finally started to fruit!

There are now 13 jars with healthy cultures growing on coffee grounds.   1 jar/culture has been soaked, and is in the fruiting chamber with the original culture.

Next Step

Harvesting the ‘shrooms off of the original culture in a few days, and cooking them up (mmmmm, tasty. . .).  Naturalizing some more cultures to various complementary substrates (Ash/poplar sawdust, book paper, human hair, etc) and hoping the jar that was soaked will fruit.  Stay tuned!

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3 responses

  1. Vera

    So glad they’re finally working for you and that the original block is finally producing.

    Another way we enjoyed them was to dry them, then reconstitute and sautee’ them. So very, very good.

    Am looking forward to pix of your fully developed shrooms. BTW – the block in the compost heap is still producing. . . not very prolifically . . . but producing nonetheless!

    08/03/2012 at 12:30 am

  2. Hey Kevin! Thanks for sharing your adventure in mushroom cultivation. You may know this, but you can now just skip to the chase and sterilize your wood chip or veggie matter in with your coffee grounds to start with. We made a liquid tissue culture with a concentrate of veggie compost cooked down and strained and cooked. Compost was provided by local organic foods market as scrap from the prepared foods they made fresh everyday. Then inoculate the liquid and watch it grow. Also then you can transfer inoculum via syringe thru a silicon access port in the lid. once your liquid culture is proven to be healthy.

    08/03/2012 at 1:21 am

    • Oh yes, I am aware. I’m trying to work it out so it is almost an open-air style grow. Doing more pasteurizing than sterilizing, as sterilizing makes the substrates more susceptible to trich. Now that I have a jar of established culture that is naturalized to kombucha scoby (and the tea) I’m looking to pre-“pickle” vegetable waste, to avoid trichoderma and bypass the need to pasteurize. We’ll see how it goes! Thanks for the feedback

      09/03/2012 at 12:11 am

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