The importance of liquid cultures in cultivating mushrooms cannot be underestimated. Liquid cultures contain nutritious substances, including raw honey, sterilized water, sugar, and live mushroom mycelium. The mycelium suspends in this liquid, grows, and colonizes the new substrate. The result is the creation of fresh mushrooms, hence the name liquid culture. It is usually used to inoculate grains, agar, and other substrates. Liquid cultures are easy and ideal for those new to growing mushrooms.
Liquid cultures are less complicated than growing mushrooms spores. One of the biggest questions newbies ask about liquid cultures is how long they last. The life span of liquid cultures depends on several factors, including medium, storage, and the mushroom type. Below are details on how long liquid cultures can last and the best storage techniques.
Life Span of Liquid Cultures
The life cycle of liquid cultures depends on several factors. However, in some rare cases, liquid cultures can generally be stored for months and years. Using your liquid culture within the first few weeks is considered best practice. One of the dangers of keeping liquid cultures for a long time is the risk of contamination. When your liquid culture starts changing color, especially when it becomes greenish, it's a sign it's gone wrong. Developing a nasty smell is another sign of a spoiled culture. A slimy texture is also another indicator. Improper storage conditions will prevent your liquid culture from losing its effectiveness or going bad.
How to Properly Store Liquid Culture
1. Clean Everything
Your liquid culture may last only a short time and can easily be contaminated by the tools used in the handling process. It is essential to ensure that all tools used are clean and sterile—tools like plastic bags, syringes, zip lock bags, and many others.
Keeping Everything clean is essential to the success and longevity of your liquid culture. You must ensure that all tools used are clean and sterile. Using a sanitizer on Everything is a necessary step in maintaining liquid culture. This will prevent liquid culture contamination. All surfaces in the working area must be clean. There are two options for sterilizing your workplace and tools. There are physical and chemical sterilizers that can be used. The physical sterilizer can be a hot air oven or steam autoclave. A chemical disinfectant also works as an effective sterilizer. Transferring the liquid culture to a fresh needle must be sterile. This is another crucial step in preventing contamination.
2. Get the Right Container
Getting a suitable container to store your liquid culture is an important step. Airtight containers are the way to go since they protect your liquid culture from oxygen and reduce the chances of contamination. You also want containers designed to undergo high temperatures. Containers usually include airtight kitchen containers, vacuum-sealed bags, and mason jars. You also want to ensure that your chosen containers don't absorb any moisture.
It's recommended that you label your liquid culture containers before storage. Writing significant information like the mushroom strain, date, and others will be helpful. People only sometimes remember this information, so keeping them written is ideal.
3. Where to Store Them
Storing your liquid culture in a cool and dark place would be best. The refrigerator is widely used. It's ideal for the refrigerator temperature settings to be between 36-46 F to keep the liquid culture thriving. At subzero temperatures, liquid cultures' metabolism and overall life span will be extended. The freeze-drying technique is also widely used to store liquid cultures. The freeze-drying machines and chambers are widely used.
However, refrigeration is optional since some people store their liquid cultures in cool, dark places like a basement, cabinets, drawers, and closets. Liquid cultures can also be stored at room temperature if it's going to be used for a few days or a week. When not kept in the right place, liquid cultures tend to go bad quickly. Sunlight and heat are some of the quickest killers of liquid culture. Heat and sunlight tend to destroy cells, thus reducing the ability of the culture to grow.
4. Regular Checks
Given the perishable nature of liquid cultures, conducting regular checks on them is essential. During check-up, if you observe any signs of contamination, including foul smells, a slimy texture and discoloration, it is time to dispose of that batch of liquid culture immediately.
5. Use Timely
One of the most common questions mushroom-growing newbies ask is how long liquid cultures can last. However, storing your liquid culture only for a short time is advisable. Keeping them in storage for weeks and several months is ideal. It's also considered best practice to use your liquid culture within the appropriate time to get the best results.
6. Preservatives and Stabilizers
Another technique for extending liquid cultures' life cycle is using preservatives. The most popular preservatives used are Glycerol, thioglycollate, and sodium azide. Sodium azide is widely used to stop the growth of bacteria. And thioglycollate is another chemical used to inhibit the growth of yeast. At the same time, Glycerol is a natural option commonly used to stop mycoplasma growth.
A stabilizer is another way of improving the life cycle of liquid cultures. There are different types of stabilizers, including natural and chemical. Some examples of widely used stabilizers are phenol and EDTA. Phenol is a natural product ideal for stabilizing liquid cultures. Propylene Glycol is another natural stabilizer used to protect the microorganisms in your liquid culture when in cold storage. While EDTA is a chemical stabilizer also used in this process. Cryoprotectant agents are also widely used in keeping liquid cultures from ice when refrigerated.
The process of developing and caring for liquid culture is easy but requires knowledge and experience. With this knowledge, you can grow magic mushrooms via spores.