How to make mycelium products
A detailed open source procedure by Valentina Dipietro
During my 12 weeks research residency at Green Lab, I have had the chance to develop my own technique to dye and mould circular products based on utilising Mycelium, the vegetative part of mushrooms.
Mycelium, therefore, became a “natural resin” to bind together waste materials. This material is completely sustainable, and compostable! At the end of its life span it can be broken down into pieces and used as an agricultural fertiliser.
Even though I have been experimenting with different substrates and Mycelium species I have found the Ganoderma Lucidum (Reishi mushroom) species to be the most resilient one.
The best substrate for this species is wood, in particular waste wood chips from Oak and Beech trees.
This research would not have been possible without the space and tools provided by the Material Lab at Green Lab. The time I have spent here has been invaluable and vital for experimenting in a safe and clean environment.
Here I will share the procedure I have used to create this mushroom material and how to transform it into products.
You are going to need:
- 200 g waste oak or beech chips
- 50 g Reishi sawdust spawn
- Pressure Cooker or Normal Cooker
- Isopropyl Alcohol
- Face mask
- Mixing Bowl
- Plastic/Glass containers
- Own 3D printed/vacuum formed/paper mould
- Clean Clothes/Lab Coat
In order to avoid contamination your clothes have to be freshly laundered or you should be wearing a clean lab coat. During the inoculation of the substrate you should be wearing a face mask and gloves and you should sanitise the work surface and your tools with isopropyl alcohol.
- Pasteurise your wood chips in a pressure cooker or a pot with plenty of water for 30 minutes (Pressure Cooker) or at least 1 hour (Normal pot);
- Wearing gloves, strain the wood making sure that it doesn’t come in contact with any unsterilised surfaces and put it in a plastic bag with a filter or a sterilised mason jar;
- Wait for the wood to cool down and weigh it;
- Add the mushroom spawn to the wood chips, the ratio should be at least 25% of the wood’s weight;
- Add 1 spoon of flour and mix thoroughly;
- After the substrate is mixed it can be put back in the bag or jar and then sealed with tape or, in the case of the jar, covered and sealed with coffee filter paper so that there is air exchange.
- Incubate at room temperature of 23/25° in a cupboard, under your bed or in a box with holes on the top making sure it’s in complete darkness.
Now you have to wait for at least 5/7 days for the Mycelium to colonise your substrate, it will look completely white when finished. Pay attention to moulds (orange or green) as it could mean contamination and you would need to throw away the whole batch.
- In a sterilised environment and with gloves and mask on, take the mycelium out of the bag/jar and pour it into the mixing bowl.
- Start breaking up the material with your hands so that the white disappears.
- Add 1 spoon of flour and mix thoroughly;
- Take the material and press it into your mould making sure that it’s not too pressed and there are some gaps.
- Put it back to incubate covering it with plastic wrap with some holes for air or in another sealed filter bag.
After 5/7 days your material will be fully grown and it can be removed from the mould and put to dry on a drying rack. If you need to speed up the drying process bake at 100° for 45 minutes. Check from time to time to make sure the temperature is not too high otherwise it will become brown. After this process you will have a perfectly solid mushroom material that’s possibilities are endless!
- Mushroom Cultivator by Paul Stamets
- Krown Design (https://www.krown-design.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/Krow-It-Yourself-Instruction-Manual.pdf)
- Ecovative (https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=98&v=26iLV2fazH8)
- Mycoworks (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c6nurN-Hii8)
For more information and to follow Valentina’s work head to her website or instagram
Valentina completed the above project during her Material focused Research Residency here at Green Lab. The research residencies allow 12 weeks access to the lab and facilities as well as mentorship from the Green Lab team – if you would like to find out more or apply for a research residency you can either head to our website or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org