Cultivating edible mushrooms at home with liquid cultures is a fun and rewarding experience. From preparing your culture media, inoculating the substrate and incubating the mycelium, to harvesting the mushrooms, this guide offers all the steps you need to take in order to successfully grow your own mushrooms using liquid cultures.
Understand What Liquid Mushroom Cultures Are
Before you start cultivating mushrooms with liquid culture, it’s important to understand what a liquid culture is. Liquid cultures are a type of mushroom cultivation method where the mycelium – or the mushroom’s root-like structures – grows in liquid form on a glass Petri dish. Liquid cultures are an easy way to grow mushrooms and are particularly useful when you want to get started quickly and isolate specific traits of your favorite mushrooms.
Decide Which Type of Cultures You Want to Grow
There are many different types of mushrooms you can grow using liquid cultures. If you’re just starting out, it’s a good idea to select a culture with attributes that make it easy to cultivate – such as Oyster mushrooms. Once you feel more comfortable with the process, you may want to try advancing your skills by working with more complex species like shiitake or lion’s mane mushrooms.
Make the Culture Media
Once you have selected your mushroom species, the next step is to create the culture media. This involves combining a carbon source such as sugar, starch or molasses with a nitrogen-rich supplement such as soybean meal and water. You’ll also need to add a few drops of plant hormones or vitamins to the mix so that the mycelium can grow and develop properly. All of these ingredients must be carefully measured and combined before they are sterilized in an autoclave or pressure cooker.
Transfer the Culture to a Substrate
Once the liquid media is cooled, it is time to transfer the culture to a substrate. The best substrates for mushroom cultivation are straw, wood chips, compost or sawdust. Inoculating the substrate with the liquid culture media allows the mycelium to grow in a larger and less dangerous environment. It also gives you greater control over the growth of your fungus since you can adjust parameters such as temperature and nutrition levels.
Harvest and Store Your Mushrooms
After you’ve waited weeks or months for your mushrooms to mature, they will start appearing at the surface of your substrate. To avoid contamination, you should wear gloves and a mask while harvesting the mushrooms. Once harvested, store the mushrooms in the refrigerator in paper bags to increase its shelf-life. Proper storage can extend the life of your mushrooms up to 7 days!