Remember that chemistry kit you had as a kid? Well, there’s lots of fun times to be had in a home mycology lab too. Culture mushrooms you find or purchase (shiitake anyone?) and see what happens. Make spore prints (you don’t need a lab for that of course) culture tissue, plant your own oysters, shiitake … Basic supplies and some skookum gear gets you setup.

Culutre Mushroom Lab, Tofino

Scale, measuring cup, clean working area – check.

Home Mushroom Lab, Tofino, BC, Canada

Quality organic ingredients – check.

Home Mushroom Lab, Tofino, BC, Canada

Test tubes – check. Oh, we’re feeling pretty cool now.

Home Mushroom Lab, Tofino, BC, Canada

Pressure cooker – check. We like our electrical unit but a stove top one works well too.

Meronwood mushroom lab, Tofino

Laminar flow hood – check. This is a table top model. McDowell is really jonesing for a portable one.

Meronwood mushroom lab, Tofino

Petri dishes (plates) and test tubes cooling – check.

Meronwood Mycology Home Lab, Tofino, BC

Test tubes cooling on an angle to get lots of surface area – check.

Meronwood Mushroom Lab Tofino Lobster Mushroom Culture

In 2013 Balfour and McDowell found a big, perfect lobster mushroom. Did we mention it was perfect? Did we take a photo of it – no, we had no idea how pristine it was until much later. Here McDowell attempts to culture it from a tissue sample.


Meronwood Mushroom Lab Tofino Lobster Mushroom Culture2

McDowell carefully places a tissue sample from the lobster mushroom into the petrie dish. Unfortunately we did not get growth. But fortunately there was plenty left over and McDowell feasted on it for days. Delish!

Luckily we sampled other species too.

Culutre Mushroom Lab, Tofino

And after inoculation, time and playing of Ella Fitzgerald and RATM lullabies… we are rewarded with healthy, happy, mushroom mycelium. Beautiful!


McDowell learned from an industry old-timer and then adopted new ideas to compliment the old ones. Now she has a sweet setup where she can culture locally sourced or purchased mushrooms anytime.

While not rocket science, it’s fun to take a course to learn some helpful details.

And then we surf…or try to!!