How to use liquid culture

Mycelium In Liquid Format.

First of all lets talk about what liquid culture is. Simply put, liquid culture is mycelium floating in a mixture of mainly water and sugar. Mycelium grows very quickly in liquid culture because it is a sterile environment with all the nutrients mycelium needs to grow.

The purpose of this blog is not to discuss the advantages and disadvantages of using liquid culture. With liquid culture it is a love or hate thing.

To put it quickly, the main liquid culture disadvantage compared to a plate of agar is that you can not see contamination in liquid culture. On a plate of agar you see right away the green mold in the dish but in liquid culture you will never see mold. You will only know your liquid culture is contaminated if you use it on grains.

One major benefit for us to use liquid culture is that, it makes inoculating jars so much easy. We don’t even need to open the lid on our jars, we just inject through the self healing injection port on our jars in order to create master spawn.

Enough talk about advantages and disadvantages. Again the purpose of the blog is to explain what liquid culture is and how to use it properly.

Liquid culture is usually sold in a syringe. With the package, we include the syringe filled with 10 CC to 12 CC of liquid culture, a brand new needle and a alcohol wipe. We also provide our own one page document on how to use the syringe.

The syringe contains enough liquid culture to inoculate 3 sterilized grain jars. Do not use liquid culture on agar because there is a good chance it will contaminate due to excess water and sugar. Most of the syringe is filled with water, then sugar, and then mycelium. Liquid culture is meant to be used to inoculate grain in order to start your own master grain. All we need to inoculate grains is about 3 CC of liquid culture.

To see our blog on how to prepare grain click here

To see our blog on how to prepare jar lids click here

Once you have two or three jars of grains ready with injection port or not follow the steps below.

Before starting, make sure your hands are clean. This is by far the most important step that is often ignored.

Use provided alcohol wipe and clean liquid culture syringe.

You have been provided with a new needle. Do not open the bag yet. Clean new needle bag with the wipe.

Remove syringe twist lock cover to expose tip of syringe, do not touch the tip. (sometimes the cap is difficult to remove but you must twist to take off).

Take new needle out of the bag (leave needle plastic cover on) and connect to syringe.

Once the heat source is ready, remove needle plastic cover to expose needle. Squirt three or four drops out of the needle to have liquid in the needle.

Heat the tip of needle until glowing red. (stop as soon as red).

Squirt 3 or 4 drops out of the needle to clear dead mycelium (due to heating needle).

You are now ready to use the syringe in a clean environment.

To properly inoculate grains, you need about 3 CC to 4 CC of liquid culture per 1L mason jar of grain.

Put some alcohol on a paper towel and clean the injection port if that’s what you’re using.

Once the needle is in the jar, do not aim the liquid culture at the center of the jar but on the glass side of the jar. Ideally you want the liquid culture to end up at the bottom of the jar so squeeze hard to provide enough pressure for the liquid culture to go all the way down at the bottom of the jar. Try to squeeze 2 CC on the left side and 2 CC on the right side of the jar. This allows the liquid culture to cover more space in the jar.

Note: Grain needs to be pressure cooked at 15 PSI for 90 minutes to 120 minutes. Anything less and you will most likely end up with contamination.

DisinfectantsInoculating grains, or liquid culture or agar dishes requires very clean space. If the hobbyist does not have a flow hood then he needs to clean his work area in order to have a dust free environment. When we inoculate jars, the room we work in or the space we work in gets a good amount of lysol spray 30 minutes before we start our work. We also wipe the table with alcohol or lysol wipes. Again the purpose is to have a clean working space.

Some hobbyists think that all these steps are overkill but soon realize the hard way that in fact cleaning your work space gives you better results. We prefer to spend two minutes cleaning rather than waiting three weeks and only get contamination because we didn’t clean properly. Cleaning is a key component of growing mushrooms.

One last note, do not remove the jar lid if you are not yet ready to inoculate the grain right away. Open the lid when you are ready and close the lid right away when you’re done. We don’t want to give air born contaminants chance to get into our jars. This may seem obvious, but  a lot of hobbyists will open the jar lid, put it on the side for minutes when they’re not even ready to inoculate.

Please see our other blogs covering on more specific subjects about the fun world of growing mushrooms.