Science Experiments

Mushroom Experiment

Day 1

I have always been fascinated with mushrooms and love to eat them. One day I went into my cooler and noticed a little fuzz on the base of our oyster mushrooms so I decided to put them in a slurry of wood chips and water. This experiment is to try and grow one of the easiest mushrooms to grow at my house.

Here is the start of the project. The day after the mushrooms were in the slurry we strained out the water and place the wood and mushroom stems into a bin to grow.

 Day 4

You can see the fungi starting to grow, you will notice the three colors of wood, the lighter layer on the bottom has too much water so we drained it one more time.

  • The fungi has started to grow quickly.
  • If there is too much water then the wood will start to rot and mold and the whole project would be ruined.

Up close picture of the fungi growing inbetween the wood chips.

 Day 7

  • After a week in there has been a lot of growth so we will move the fungi into a larger container to allow for even more growth.

This is the wood chip bed for the mushrooms to grow in. The dimension is about 8" by 12".

This round of experimenting is done, we did not boil the wood chips, which we should have to sanitize them, so there was some un-wanted mold growing. Round two will involve cardboard and coffee grounds.

The Black Garlic Expirement

12/07/11

This concludes the first round of black garlic; I have a product the smells and tastes like black garlic but does not look black. Black garlic isn’t really black to begin with, it is just a very deep brown; you can see this when you purée it with water, so the product I have is very similar but not quite right.  Now it’s time to work on getting the color right. Round two will start in about a week with variable temperatures and added drying times.

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11/15/11

The forty days are up and it is time to cut the garlic to see what I have. There are major changes in the garlic and as you can see below, the garlic has turned brown, it is still a little firm, and compared to other black garlic that I have used, this one is more paste like. I am going to give it twenty more days then check it again.

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10/21/11

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I removed a clove of garlic from the chamber, pulled it out of the mason jar and started to see some very promising changes. The skin is starting to brown, the cloves are becoming very soft, which is another trait of black garlic, and there is a stronger fermented smell. It’s hard to see real noticeable changes from the picture, I will be posting a cross section at the 20 day mark.

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10/13/11

After getting home from work I noticed a much different smell in the house; it wasn’t bad but it was different. The smell was very similar to roasted garlic, but not completely roasted. I am about six days in so I am guessing that the garlic is beginning to “cook”. I am very excited to see what it looks like after the next five days.

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On October 8th I fired up the warming box and loaded it up with a pound of garlic. Before all of this, I had to actually make a box the could consistently hold a temperature of 140° F. I found a mini fridge for $20 that didn’t work to be my warming box. The next step was to heat it so I picked up a mountains socket and a heat bulb. When I replaced the hood in my kitchen, I saved the old one for a reason (I didn’t know what at the time). I doctored up the vent to slide into the mini-fridge. Now I have a functioning fan with two switches, one for the light and one for the fan; both of which came off my old hood and is mounted inside the box. The hardest part of the setup was wiring a thermostat so I didn’t have to keep checking on the box and switching it on and off. After a few blown fuses and wandering in the dark, I finally got it wired and functioning.

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Inside of the wine box I sprayed glued foil onto the glass and around the fan housing and light housing.

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Light Housing

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This fan came out of the hood unit in my kitchen, it was old soo I cleaned it up and put it to use.

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Digital temperature and humidity gauge is mounted on the side and an access hole for the thermostats.

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Far left: Thermostat for a water based heating unit, temperature range is 100°F to 250°F. Middle switch: Variable switch to control the fan speed. Far right: Light switch, it is not necessary as both the fan and the light are wired into the relay on the thermostat.

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In action!

Mushroom Growing Round 2

1/12/12

Going to close down the mushroom growing until further notice, I have too many projects going at once and the fungi starts great but finishes with mold on top, which is bad.  I need to find a more sterile and controlled environment to attempt to grow them and I will let you all know when it gets started again.

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This time I have taken the project a little more seriously and instead of just throwing mushroom stems into a bucket of wood chips, I have taken extra precautions to ensure that I am putting the stems in a sterilized environment.

The first technique that I used was to smash the fuzzy stems between pieces of corrugated cardboard. We put the cardboard into the steamer to sanitize it and in turn it also got it pretty damp.  We let it cool then pressed the stems in the middle.  After a week they have started to show some growth and it looks to be promising. The picture below is after two weeks of growth.

Our second attempt included exhausted, or used, coffee grounds.  This would be a great use for coffee grounds at home, as you can make a little bed to grow mushrooms in.  After brewing gallons of coffee a day, I decided to take a couple of batches of used coffee grounds and add our “sprouting” fungi to it.  After two days there has been a lot of growth.  The coffee grounds seem to be a good medium to grow mushrooms.20111221-085451.jpg