Popcorn Tek, spore inoculation in corn kernels

If you are a fan of growing magic mushrooms, you have probably heard about or read about various spore inoculation techniques for the development of mycelium, especially in terms of the different substrates that can be used. In many cases, the material used as a culture medium for the reproduction of the mycelium is some type of grain, rye being one of the most popular.

However, there are many other equally valid alternatives, such as the method that we present to you today, using corn grains as a substrate to inoculate your spores, which is usually known as Popcorn Tek. Discover with us a new way to grow your mycelium with one of the most common and easily available types of grain.

This technique can also be used with mushbags or mushroom growing bags (Image: u/NASA_Myco)
This technique can also be used with mushbags or mushroom-growing bags (Image: u/NASA_Myco)

Growing mushrooms with Popcorn Tek

As we have mentioned, in the world of mushroom cultivation, hobbyists have developed various techniques to try to achieve better or faster results, such as the BRF technique (brown rice flour) or the one we are dealing with today, known as "Popcorn Tek" and in which corn kernels are used as a mycelium culture medium.

Thus, thanks to this methodology, which is relatively easy to apply, popcorn precursors are used as a substrate to begin the mycelial colonization process from spores. In other words, mushroom spores are inoculated into a jar full of sterilized corn so that mycelium grows inside the jar, mycelium that will later be mixed with a substrate to begin fruiting and mushroom formation. Although more traditional techniques usually involve the use of rice or rye grains, Popcorn Tek has gained popularity in recent years for its accessibility and consistent results.

Popcorn Tek: How does it work?

The essence of Popcorn Tek lies in preparing the corn kernels, which undergo a series of processes to convert them into an ideal substrate for inoculating spores without unwanted contamination. After a sterilization process to eliminate competitors that could ruin mycelium growth, which can be carried out with a pressure cooker or, ideally, an autoclave, the grains are inoculated with selected fungal spores; After a few days, mycelial colonization begins, transforming the corn grains into an expanding network that will end up colonizing all of the corn contained in the jar.

Advantages and considerations

The main advantage of the Popcorn Tek is its simplicity and effectiveness. Corn kernels provide a substrate that promotes healthy mycelium growth, and are also easy to obtain. Additionally, the technique is friendly to novice growers as it requires minimal equipment and is less prone to contamination, one of the main problems when trying to inoculate spores. Finally, if things are done well, it is one of the inoculation means where the mycelium can develop the fastest.

For correct fruiting, it is recommended to mix the mycelium that has grown on the corn with a good substrate
For correct fruiting, it is recommended to mix the mycelium that has grown on the corn with a good substrate

However, several factors must be taken into account when using corn grain, such as that it does not usually give very good results as a medium for fruiting, so mixing it with a good substrate is practically essential to obtain productive mushroom cakes (something that does not happen with other media such as brown rice flour). Furthermore, for faster mycelium growth it is better to choose small-caliber corn kernels, otherwise, it may be difficult for the mycelium to move from one grain to another.

Finally, and as we always emphasize in everything related to mushroom cultivation and especially when inoculating, it is essential to carry out rigorous sterilization and maintain optimal hygienic conditions throughout the process to avoid contamination problems, which can ruin your efforts even before the mycelium has finished developing. Additionally, some growers combine the use of corn kernels with other elements to maximize nutritional benefits, such as gypsum (an excellent source of calcium).

Spore prints and syringes of magic mushrooms

Today we are going to tell you how to prepare a spore syringe from prints or vials, a simple process that requires maximum hygiene to minimize the risk of contamination. In addition, we will present you the different options you have to reproduce the mycelium and get a copious harvest of mushrooms.

Popcorn Tek step-by-step

Once again, and we will not tire of repeating this, follow meticulous sterilization practices to prevent contamination during this process. Going through all the work to end up with contaminated mycelium is a real shame, we assure you!

Necessary materials:

  • Corn grains (preferably without additives or pesticides, of organic origin)
  • Glass jars with lids
  • Mushroom spores and sterilized syringes. You can start with easy-to-grow varieties with Golden Teacher spores or Mckennaii spores.
  • Sterilized gloves
  • 70% isopropyl alcohol. If you have higher purity, you can mix it with distilled water to achieve the desired concentration.
  • Autoclave bags or aluminum foil

Steps to follow:

  1. Preparation of corn kernels: Wash the corn kernels and let them soak for 24 hours. Simmer them for a few hours until they are tender but still firm. Drain them and let them cool.
  2. Glass jars: Wash the jars and lids. The bottles should be about 400-500ml, try not to make them larger or the colonization process may take too long. Make sure they are completely dry before continuing. Fill each jar with the cooked corn kernels to about 3/4 full. Don't compact too much.
  3. Sterilization: Place the lids on the jars, cover them with aluminum foil, and sterilize the entire contents in an autoclave or using a suitable sterilization method, such as a pressure cooker. Let your jars sterilize for 90-120 minutes.
  4. Cooling: Let the jars cool to room temperature. Check that the lids of the jars are closed correctly (sometimes they can be left half open when sterilizing).
  5. Spore inoculation: Disinfect your work area and hands with isopropyl alcohol. Open the sterile syringe and add the spores following the supplier's instructions. Insert the needle of the syringe into the jar and gently release the spores onto the corn kernels. Avoid touching the inside of the bottle or needle with unsterilized hands. You can find injection ports that you attach to the lids and through which you can insert the needle into the jar. Another option is to drill the lids, making a hole of about 0.7cm in diameter in each one, which you then cover with high-temperature self-sealing silicone. You will have a 100% effective home injection port!
  6. Sealing: Seal the opening of the jar with a layer of aluminum foil or use autoclave bags. This prevents contamination from the outside.
  7. Incubation: Place the jars in a dark, warm place for the spores to develop and the mycelium to colonize the grains.
  8. Observation: Monitor the progress of mycelial growth. When the grains are fully colonized, which may take 2-3 weeks, they will be ready to transfer to another substrate or induce fruiting. As we have already mentioned, in the case of corn it is better to mix the mycelium from the jar with some quality substrate to achieve generous fruiting.

Remember that cleaning and sterilization are essential at each step to avoid unwanted contamination. Disinfect everything constantly and, needless to say, if you have a laminar flow hood, do all your work in front of it. On the Internet, you can find many options to prepare a good substrate, although keep in mind that it must also be sterilized before mixing with the mycelium.


The Popcorn Tek is a very good option for your first attempts at inoculating spores and growing mycelium in a solid growing medium, allowing you to grow specific varieties with relative ease. It is a type of grain that is very easy to obtain, clean, and sterilize, although one of its disadvantages is undoubtedly the low nutritional level that it has, especially if we talk about the fruiting of mushrooms. However, if you are interested, for example, in trying various types of substrate, it is an excellent means to inoculate the spores and monitor the results of each substrate at the end of the crop, quickly and reliably.

Have you tried it yet? Do you have experience with this means of mycelium propagation? Do not hesitate to share your experience with us, and of course, your questions if you have any.

Happy harvest!

The articles published by Alchimiaweb, S.L. are reserved for adult clients only. We would like to remind our customers that cannabis seeds are not listed in the European Community catalogue. They are products intended for genetic conservation and collecting, in no case for cultivation. In some countries it is strictly forbidden to germinate cannabis seeds, other than those authorised by the European Union. We recommend our customers not to infringe the law in any way, we are not responsible for their use.
2024-02-06 Magic mushrooms

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