If I were you I'd make a dozen jars of wild bird seed and inoculate them. Unless something catastrophic happened to them I'd go into it assuming they were viable.I chose WBS because it's what I've got available and it's the only procedure I know at this point. I use a home made glove box and 91% rubbing alcohol as my cleaning solution. I then would put them some place where the temperature stays in the upper 60's to the upper 70's. (I use a closet in my living quarters). If "the force is with you" they will start to show pretty fuzzy white mycelium in a couple of days. I had sawdust spawn that was a year old that had never been opened or removed from it's original cardboard box that it had been shipped in. I know it hadn't been refrigerated ever and it was fine and very viable. Good luck and May the Mold be with you!
I'm not sure what the rubbing alcohol is for, cleaning the container?
So If I put WBS in say, some clean ball jars, and then put sawdust spawn in with it and mix it around, some fuzzy white mold would be proof of good spawn? Should I seal the jars or leave open so there'd be available moisture?
This is the kind of test I was looking for, thanks.
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The rubbing alcohol is for sterilizing your hands and your jars.But I'm a total newbie so I'm just telling you that this is the way I'd do it. I'd use my pressure cooker to make a batch of wild bird seed grain spawn over the next two days(that's how long the procedure takes for me). After they are finished and before you take the prepared wild bird seed spawn out of the pressure cooker I'd prepare my glove box. The one I use is one I made out of a 51 quart rubbermaid tote fitted with two glory brand canned turnip greens cans attached with epoxy to the box. Then I've taken the longest, largest vinyl dishwashing gloves I could find and glued them to the cans. These help keep your arms from getting sore from resting on the cut edge of the plastic box. Then I've taken silicone sealant and applied it to the entire top edge of my box. To make it airtight when it's closed. To test this I put a burning candle in it and when it runs out of oxygen I can see it's air tight. Then when everything is inside the box I spray it all down with the rubbing alcohol. Don't forget to fold up a couple of paper towels and put them in the box too. This will help wipe the excess alcohol off of everything before you remove the lids from the jars and open your spawn. I can fit 12 quart jars and one 2.5 bag of sawdust spawn in it. I make sure it's clean. I have a misto sprayer I fill with alcohol and it fits nicely in my glove box along with the prepared jars and my spawn. I just started growing mushrooms and since I've started everyone of the things I've inoculated has colonized perfectly. This isn't brain surgery no matter how technical it seems. K.I.S.S is best.
What kind of shroom? If it's a primary decomposer like oysters or something, then the easiest way is to just innoculate more dowels or woodchips. That is as simple as boiling the woodchips or dowels, letting them cool, then mixing them with some innoculant into a clean bag, tub or box. No sterilization necessary. Even simpler is to use cardboard instead of woodchips/dowels.
If it is not a p. decomposer then I think the best way to test viability is using any sterile medium. This could be agar or grain. I prefer popcorn instead of wild birdseed because I have had better luck with the moisture content being right.
Try breaking it up, if it comes back nice and fuzzy that means there is no bacteria, which would be my concern for an older previously opened bag. if it looks slimey and patches of it aren't fuzzy that's whats up.
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