Uncle Bens Tek: Pros and Cons
In mushroom growing there exists a plethora of different techniques, or "Teks". Uncle Ben's Tek is a popular method for the first time and inexperienced grower. The low initial cost, and easy availability of Uncle Ben's pre-cooked rice pouches has led to the methods popularity.
It's as easy as buying the pre-cooked rice packs, injecting them with spores, and then using the colonized rice to inoculate a bulk substrate. It's cheap, and fast. That's where the pros end though.
The cons to the Uncle Ben's Tek are abundant. To start, the rice is borderline over hydrated. When you inject spore solution or liquid culture, it is easy to inject too much. Having over saturated spawn is a sure path to bacterial contamination.
It doesn't end there. They are not designed as mushroom grow bags so they lack the filter patch for gas exchange. It is missing a self healing injector port which means taping over the hole created by the needle, a less than ideal scenario. These both contribute to a high failure rate. Also, consider that you can not see inside the bag to monitor for contamination or level of colonization. If you open the bag early and the rice is not fully colonized it becomes unusable.
If that wasn't enough, the small amount of spawn per bag is a very inefficient use of spore solution. Spores aren't cheap so that defeats the cost savings of using Uncle Ben's.
Last, the Uncle Ben's Tek still requires a spawn to bulk transfer. This is not a beginner friendly process. It's one more thing to buy, substrate, and exposes you to introducing contamination and total failure. That's expensive!
While Uncle Ben's Tek is a valid method, it's not as cheap nor as efficient as it seems.
If you are looking for an even easier way to grow mushrooms at home on a small scale and budget, check out our "All In One" mushroom grow bags. We've eliminated the cons. You will have a higher success rate, easier process and more efficient use of spores, a better value at the end of the day.