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BRF Tek


Welcome to our comprehensive tutorial on using the PF Tek method for growing mushrooms at home. This guide is tailored for beginners and experts alike, diving into the intricate world of mycology. The PF Tek, short for Psilocybe Fanaticus Technique, is a widely acclaimed and popular method for cultivating mushrooms, particularly suited for growing varieties like Psilocybe cubensis.

In this step-by-step tutorial, we will cover all the essential aspects of the PF Tek method, from preparing the necessary materials and substrates to the final harvest. Our focus will be on key areas such as sterilization, inoculation, incubation, and fruiting conditions. We aim to demystify the process and make it accessible for everyone, whether you’re a mushroom cultivation enthusiast or someone curious about the art of growing mushrooms at home.

We will also delve into best practices for maintaining a sterile environment, a crucial aspect of successful mushroom cultivation. By following our guide, you will learn how to create and maintain the perfect conditions for your mycelium to thrive, leading to a successful and abundant mushroom harvest.

Join us on this fascinating journey into the world of mushroom cultivation using the PF Tek method. Whether you’re looking to grow mushrooms for culinary purposes, study, or personal interest, this tutorial will provide you with the knowledge and tools you need to get started. Let’s embark on this mycological adventure together!


What Is PF Tek?

The PF Tek, short for Psilocybe Fanaticus Technique, emerged in the late 20th century as an innovative and cost-effective method for cultivating mushrooms at home. It has significantly impacted the mushroom cultivation community since its introduction, and we’re here to distill its key aspects for you. Imagine growing gourmet mushrooms in your home, flourishing as swiftly as a viral internet video gains views.

In this engaging guide, we’ll walk you through the PF Tek process step-by-step, helping you avoid common pitfalls. By the end, you’ll be harvesting mushrooms with ease, and when asked about your success, you can charmingly reply that it’s because you’re just a fun-gi (or gal)!

So, make yourself comfortable, perhaps with some popcorn (or even popcorn mycelium for the enthusiasts), and let’s embark on this educational journey. With the PF Tek, you’ll find that there is always room for growth and improvement in the art of mushroom cultivation. Let’s get started!

How Long Does The PF Tek Take

The duration of the PF Tek process for mushroom cultivation is similar to the growth, stay calm and patient. In just over a month, you’ll be able to enjoy the rewards of your efforts, savoring the mushrooms you’ve cultivated yourself. Happy growing! This requires time and patience. The entire process typically spans about five weeks, though it can vary depending on several factors.

Week 1 – Getting Started: This initial week is crucial. You’ll be preparing your jars, mixing your substrate, and inoculating them with spores. It’s essential to maintain a clean environment during this stage to prevent any unwanted fungal guests.

Weeks 2-4 – The Waiting Game: During these weeks, the mycelium begins to colonize the jar. This period, humorously termed the ‘Don’t-Rush-the-Mush’ phase, demands patience. It’s important to resist the urge to check on the jars frequently; think of it like waiting for a surprise party to unfold.

Week 5 – The Culmination: In the final week, after complete colonization, it’s time to birth the cakes and start the fruiting process. This is when you’ll finally see your mushrooms begin to grow.

However, it’s important to remember that nature doesn’t adhere to a strict timetable. The speed of the process can be influenced by factors like ambient temperature, the quality of your spore syringe, and other environmental conditions.


What Is A BRF Cake?


If you’ve stumbled upon the term ‘BRF cake’ in the context of mushroom cultivation and are puzzled, thinking it’s a new kind of dessert, let me clear the air for you. ‘BRF cake’ is a key component in the PF Tek method of mushroom growing, and it’s quite different from your traditional baked goods.

BRF stands for Brown Rice Flour, which plays a central role in this mushroom cultivation technique. But no, we’re not venturing into the world of gluten-free baking. In the language of mushroom growers, a BRF cake is a blend of brown rice flour, vermiculite, and water. This mixture is sterilized and then inoculated with mushroom spores. Its fluffy texture and nutrient richness provide an ideal environment for the growth of baby mycelium.

Creating a BRF cake is akin to setting the stage for a romantic film where everything must be perfect. It starts with a careful mix of brown rice flour and vermiculite, followed by just the right amount of water to achieve the desired consistency. This blend is then packed into jars, topped with a dry layer of vermiculite to act as a barrier against contamination – consider this the bouncer at your BRF cake’s exclusive club.

These jars undergo sterilization, transforming them into the perfect breeding grounds for spores to colonize and form extensive mycelium networks. As colonization takes place, the contents of the jar begin to solidify and resemble a cake. You’ll recognize it’s ready when it’s uniformly white with mycelium, similar to how a baked cake indicates its readiness.

So, the next time you hear ‘BRF cake’, think less of a baking challenge and more of an exciting step in mushroom cultivation. It’s about creating the perfect foundation for mushrooms to thrive, not about pleasing Mary Berry with your baking skills. And in its own way, successfully cultivating fungi using a BRF cake is as satisfying as baking the perfect cake!

Why Use Vermiculite For Growing Mushrooms?

Vermiculite, often overlooked in discussions about mushroom cultivation, is actually a pivotal player in the process, much like a supporting character in a movie who quietly ensures the hero’s success. It’s not just a rock; it’s a mineral with unique properties that make it invaluable to both gardeners and mushroom growers.

This mineral undergoes a transformation when heated, a process known as exfoliation, which turns it into a lightweight, absorbent, and non-toxic material. Its versatility in various applications makes it akin to a Swiss army knife in the mineral world – understated in appearance but incredibly functional.

In mushroom cultivation, particularly in the PF Tek method, vermiculite serves multiple essential roles. Its porous nature is excellent for retaining moisture, providing the hydration that mycelium desperately needs. Additionally, it ensures proper aeration, allowing the mycelium to breathe, which is crucial for their growth.

During the preparation of BRF cakes, vermiculite is combined with brown rice flour, resulting in a substrate that is airy, moist, and perfect for mushroom spores. This mixture creates an ideal environment, likened to a luxurious accommodation for the spores, complete with all the necessary amenities for their growth.

Furthermore, a layer of dry vermiculite is added atop the BRF jars before sterilization. This layer acts as a defensive barrier, keeping harmful bacteria at bay and protecting the developing mycelium from potential contaminants. It’s as if vermiculite stands guard, ensuring the safety and purity of the cultivation environment.

In essence, vermiculite is a crucial component in the journey of mushroom cultivation, playing a role that might not be glamorous but is undeniably critical. It’s the behind-the-scenes hero, ensuring that the mycelium can thrive and eventually lead to the growth of mushrooms. So, here’s a salute to vermiculite, the uncelebrated yet indispensable rock star of the mushroom growing world!


Preparation For PF Tek.

In our upcoming tutorial, we will delve into the process of creating 8 BRF (Brown Rice Flour) cakes, a fundamental component in the PF Tek method for mushroom cultivation. We’ll use an innovative and practical approach by using the jars themselves as our unit of measurement. This method is not only straightforward but also allows for easy adjustment of quantities based on how many cakes you plan to produce.

This tutorial is designed to be both accessible for beginners who are just starting their journey in mushroom cultivation and valuable for experienced growers looking to refine their techniques. We’ve tailored this guide to be adaptable and comprehensive, ensuring that all skill levels find it useful.

For your convenience, we’ve provided links to all the necessary materials. To ensure a smooth and uninterrupted experience during this tutorial, we recommend gathering all these materials beforehand. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 6 ×wide mouth mason jars

  • 1 × four quart bag of vermiculite

  • 1 × 5lb Bag of rice flour

  • 1 jar of water

  • Aluminium foil

  • pressure cooker/canner

By following this tutorial step by step and having these materials at hand, you will be well-equipped to successfully create BRF cakes and embark on your mushroom cultivation journey. Stay tuned for a detailed, engaging, and informative guide that will walk you through each stage of the process

STEP ONE

Now that we’ve gathered our ingredients, let’s dive into the process of making the BRF cake mixture. We’re going to use a straightforward 2:1:1 ratio, using the jars themselves as a measuring unit for simplicity.

  1. Combining Vermiculite and BRF: Start by taking four jars full of vermiculite and pour them into a large mixing bowl, spreading them evenly. Next, add two jars of BRF to this bowl. Mix the vermiculite and BRF thoroughly using either your hands or a mixing tool. The mixture should resemble a dry, sandy texture at this point.

  2. Adding Water: Now, pour two jars of water into your mixture. Stir the mix well until the water is evenly distributed. It may appear overly wet initially, but don’t worry—vermiculite has excellent water retention properties and will absorb this excess moisture, which is essential for the mycelium’s growth.

  3. Achieving Consistency: Continue mixing until you reach a uniform consistency. The ideal substrate will feel like a damp sponge when squeezed, releasing just a few droplets of water. This indicates that you’ve reached the perfect field capacity for your BRF cake mixture.

Congratulations, your BRF cake mixture is now ready! While it might not resemble a traditional cake, for your future mushrooms, it’s a luxurious feast. With the mixture prepared, the next step is to pack it into the jars, setting the stage for successful mycelium colonization. Stay tuned for further instructions on how to proceed with this exciting mushroom cultivation journey!


Understanding Field Capacity: A Critical Component in Mushroom Cultivation

In mushroom cultivation, mastering the concept of ‘field capacity’ in your substrate is crucial for successful growth and fruiting of mycelium. Field capacity refers to the optimum amount of water a substrate can retain after any excess has drained away. This is the ideal state where the substrate is moist but not waterlogged, providing the perfect conditions for mycelium development.

Understanding and achieving field capacity is pivotal in mushroom growing. Given that mushrooms are about 90% water, and mycelium requires a moist environment for growth, getting this balance right is key. If the substrate is too dry, the mycelium might desiccate and cease growing. On the other hand, an overly wet substrate can create an anaerobic (oxygen-poor) environment, which is conducive to harmful bacteria and other competitors, detrimental to mycelium growth.

To determine if your substrate has reached field capacity, the squeeze test is a simple and effective method. After incorporating water into your substrate, take a handful and gently squeeze it. The ideal scenario is when a few drops of water are released – that’s the field capacity. If water streams out, the substrate is too wet and needs more dry material mixed in. If no water comes out, it’s too dry and requires additional moisture.

Achieving the right field capacity is essential for a healthy and hydrated environment for mycelium. It’s a fundamental aspect of mushroom cultivation that, once mastered, can lead to robust mycelial networks and abundant fruiting.

In summary, field capacity is akin to a blueprint for ensuring the well-being and productivity of your mushrooms. It’s a critical factor that should be given ample attention in any mushroom cultivation effort, unlocking the full potential of your fungal projects.


STEP TWO

Filling your mason jars with the brown rice flour and vermiculite mixture is a key step in the PF Tek method of mushroom cultivation. It requires careful attention to ensure the right environment for your mycelium to thrive.

  1. Preparation: Start with your mixture that has reached field capacity. If you’ve followed the earlier steps, your mixture should be moist but not overly saturated. Aim for the ‘Goldilocks’ condition – not too wet, not too dry, but just right.

  2. Filling the Jars: Now, take your sterilized mason jars (choose between wide mouth or regular based on your preference) and gently spoon the BRF and vermiculite mixture into them. It’s important to avoid compacting the mixture too tightly in the jars. The goal is to maintain a light, airy texture which provides enough space for the mycelium to grow.

  3. Leaving Space at the Top: Fill the jars to about half an inch below the rim. This space is reserved for a layer of dry vermiculite, which acts as a protective barrier against contamination. Consider this layer as a safeguard, ensuring the cleanliness and safety of your mycelium.

  4. Adding the Dry Vermiculite Layer and Sealing: Once the jars are filled, add a dry layer of vermiculite up to the rim. Then, cap the jars with their modified lids, ensuring the rubber sealing side is facing upwards. Tighten the lids, but not too much – your mycelium needs a breathable environment.

You’ve successfully filled your mason jars! They’re now ready for the next crucial phase: sterilization. Don’t worry if this process feels a bit challenging at first. With practice, you’ll refine your technique and be on your way to successful mushroom cultivation.


STEP THREE

Sterilizing your mason jars filled with the BRF substrate is an essential step in the PF Tek process. Proper sterilization is crucial for eliminating contaminants that could harm the developing mycelium. Here’s how to effectively carry out this process:

  1. Preparation: Before starting, make sure the lids on your jars are equipped with modified, reusable lids that have self-healing injection ports and air filters. Secure the lids on the jars and cover each one with a layer of aluminum foil. This foil serves as an additional barrier against potential contaminants during the sterilization process.

  2. Steam Sterilization: Use a large pot or a pressure cooker for this step. Fill it with water, ensuring the level reaches about halfway up the sides of your jars. It’s important that the water does not come in contact with the lids of the jars. Place your jars inside the pot or pressure cooker. If you’re using a pressure cooker, follow the specific instructions provided by the manufacturer for steam sterilization.

  3. Cooking Time: Put the pot on the stove and heat it until the water starts to boil. Once boiling, lower the heat to maintain a simmer. If you’re using a regular pot, let the jars steam for at least 90 minutes. For those using a pressure cooker, process the jars at 15 PSI for 60 minutes.

Cooling Down: After sterilization, turn off the heat but leave the jars inside the pot to cool down. This gradual cooling is important to prevent the jars from cracking due to a sudden temperature change. Allow the jars to cool completely, which can take several hours or even overnight. After cooling, your jars are ready for the next step, which is inoculation with spore syringes.



STEP FOUR

Inoculating your sterile BRF cakes with mycelium is a critical step in mushroom cultivation. This process, known as inoculation, requires precision and attention to detail to ensure the success of your mushroom growing endeavor. Let’s walk through the steps:

Materials Needed

  • Sterile BRF cakes

  • A syringe of mushroom liquid culture

  • A lighter or alcohol lamp

  • A clean cloth or paper towel soaked in isopropyl alcohol

  • A sterile environment (like a still air box or a clean, disinfected work surface)

Procedure

4.1. Prepare Your Environment

Start by making your workspace as sterile as possible. This reduces the risk of contamination. If you’re not using a still air box, thoroughly wipe down your work surface and tools with a cloth or paper towel soaked in isopropyl alcohol.

4.2. Sterilize Your Syringe

Shake the syringe containing the liquid culture to evenly distribute the mycelium. Next, use a flame to sterilize the needle of the syringe until it glows red-hot. Let it cool for a few seconds afterwards.

4.3. Inoculation

Find the self-healing injection port on your jar lid. Using the sterilized syringe, carefully inject 1-2ml of liquid culture into the jar through the port. Ensure the needle doesn’t touch any non-sterile surfaces to prevent contamination.

4.4. Repeat the Process

Continue inoculating each of your BRF cakes, flame-sterilizing the needle between each jar. Maintaining cleanliness throughout this process is crucial.

4.5. Store the Jars

After inoculating all your cakes, store them at a temperature appropriate for your mushroom species, usually between 70-75°F. You should expect to see mycelium growth within a week or so.

Congratulations on completing the inoculation process! Patience is now key as you wait for the mycelium to colonize the BRF cakes. Remember, mushroom cultivation is a test of patience, but the results are immensely rewarding. Soon, you’ll be able to witness the fruits of your labor!


STEP 5

You’ve reached an exciting milestone in your mushroom cultivation journey: your BRF cakes are fully colonized and ready to transition to the fruiting stage. Let’s walk through the steps to ensure a smooth transfer from jar to fruiting chamber.

5.1. Preparation

Start by thoroughly cleaning your workspace to reduce contamination risks. Have a clean bowl of water and a sterilized surface ready for your colonized cakes, like a disinfected cutting board or tray. Remember, maintaining cleanliness is vital at every stage of mushroom cultivation.

5.2. Cake Removal

With clean hands or gloves, gently unscrew the jar lid. Carefully tap the jar on its side to loosen the cake. Avoid using force to prevent damaging the mycelium network. If the cake doesn’t slide out easily, gently use a sterilized knife or spatula around the edges to assist its release.

5.3. Rinsing and Dunking

Rinse the cake under cold, clean water to remove any loose vermiculite. Then, submerge the cake in your bowl of water. This ‘dunking’ process rehydrates the mycelium, priming it for fruiting. Leave the cakes in the water for 24 hours.

5.4. Rolling in Vermiculite

After dunking, remove the cakes, letting excess water drain. Roll them in dry, sterilized vermiculite. This layer helps retain moisture and can lead to a higher yield.

5.5. Transfer to Fruiting Chamber

Place the cakes in your fruiting chamber, spacing them adequately to accommodate growth. Keep the chamber in a location with minimal direct sunlight, a temperature around 70-75°F (21-24°C), and ensure it has good fresh air exchange.

With these steps, your mushrooms are well on their way to fruiting. Patience is still key as you await the harvest, but you’re now closer than ever to enjoying the fruits of your labor. Keep an eye on your mushroom babies as they embark on this final growth stage!


STEP 6

Place the cakes on sterilized lids or small squares of aluminum foil. This step is important to prevent the cakes from sitting directly on the damp perlite layer at the bottom of the chamber. Make sure to space the cakes adequately to ensure good air circulation around each one.

6.2. Misting

Gently spray a mist of water onto the sides of the chamber and lightly over the cakes. The goal is to create a fine, dew-like mist without soaking the cakes. Overwatering can lead to adverse conditions for the mushrooms, so aim for a light and even mist.

6.3. Fanning

Fanning is essential for introducing fresh air into the chamber and should be done at least twice daily, especially after misting. Use the lid of the chamber or a piece of cardboard to gently fan fresh air inside. This process helps to replace the carbon dioxide-heavy air inside the chamber with fresh oxygen, which is vital for inducing the mushrooms to pin (start the initial stage of fruiting).

The design of the SGFC, with its array of holes, naturally facilitates air exchange, which is crucial in simulating the mushrooms’ natural growing conditions. This air exchange is key to removing carbon dioxide and supplying fresh oxygen to your growing mushrooms.

Additionally, the SGFC aids in maintaining high humidity levels, another critical factor for mushroom growth. The damp perlite at the bottom of the chamber slowly releases moisture, helping to keep the humidity within the chamber at an ideal level.

In summary, the SGFC is an efficient and effective way to provide your mushrooms with the balanced environment they need to thrive. It simplifies the process of maintaining the optimal conditions of fresh air exchange and humidity, vital for a successful mushroom yield. With your SGFC set up correctly, you’re well on your way to a bountiful mushroom harvest. Enjoy the fruits of your labor in your very own mushroom zen garden!


STEP SEVEN

Harvesting your mushrooms at the right time is essential for ensuring their best quality and potency. Typically, this ideal moment occurs just before or as the veil beneath the mushroom cap begins to tear. Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you harvest your mushrooms grown from a BRF cake:

7.1. Sanitize

Start by thoroughly washing and sanitizing your hands with alcohol. Wearing gloves is also a good option. Remember, maintaining cleanliness is crucial in mushroom cultivation.

7.2. Gentle Grasp

Identify mature mushrooms, which are indicated by a flattening or upturning of the cap and a tearing veil. Gently grasp the stem close to the cake. It’s important to handle the mushroom delicately to avoid damaging the underlying mycelium.

7.3. Twist and Pull

With a gentle yet firm grip, twist the stem counter-clockwise and simultaneously pull it upwards. This technique should allow the mushroom to come away from the mycelium network without causing significant damage.

7.4. Repeat

Continue this method for each mature mushroom. Leave the smaller, less mature mushrooms to grow further, unless they are directly under a larger, mature mushroom.

7.5. Post-Harvest Care

After harvesting, inspect the cake to ensure no residual stem bases are left behind. This is to prevent any rot, which could negatively impact future growth.

7.6. Prepare for the Next Flush

Once all mature mushrooms are harvested, it’s time to prepare the BRF cake for the next growth cycle. This typically involves rehydrating the cake to supply the mycelium with the necessary water for growing more mushrooms.

Patience and a gentle approach are crucial during the harvesting process. By carefully observing and handling your mushrooms, you’ll be able to enjoy the fruits of your labor with a bountiful, homegrown mushroom harvest. Happy harvesting!



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4 Comments


Jeremiah Dossey
Jeremiah Dossey
Dec 17, 2023

Thank you for all of this wonderful information Carl. You sir are a rock star..

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Brother your lc are amazing I've only used 4 of the 11 and they're the fastest prettiest mycelium I've seen after a week my spawn was almost 3 quarters colonized the iceberg and the octopi nebula are doing amazing too i did a break and shake after a week it was over half colonized it's amazing and thanks so much for the extra labeled mystery yall are awesome, oh and what us PEAL I don't know all the abbreviations

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Ryan pixler
Ryan pixler
Dec 17, 2023
Replying to

The one labeled mystery is the name of the strain. Then the one that's PEAL is some sort of penis envy mixed with something else I would wager. Can't go wrong there, penis envies are always good. I'm interested to know what it's actually mixed with. Hopefully James can let you know on that one. It'll be interesting to see pictures of both strains.

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