How do I know if my mother shroom has died?
How do I tell when to discard the mother colony?

Good questions. The structure of the colony is a layered makeup of bacteria and yeast in alternating style. During the ferment process several different bacteria and yeasts become active at different stages of fermentation. When each of them become dominant in the ferment process, they produce a layer on the new colony that is heavy in that particular type of yeast or bacteria. The "layering" continues until the ferment is finished or until we interrupt it to decant the tea.

Along with the layering, one of the yeasts produces a cellulose structure that houses the new colony. This cellulose structure is the key on when to discard a "mother" colony.

A normal colony will feel firm to the touch. When pressure is put on the colony by a thumb and finger, a depression in the colony will occur. This depression will refill in a few seconds and will no longer be apparent in a good colony. In a colony that should be discarded, the indentation does not fill back in. In addition the colony will feel soft indicating deterioration in the cellulose wall structure. When either of these conditions occur, it is time to retire the "mother" colony and start using one of the offspring colonies.

The time it takes for a colony to deteriorate depends on the local brewing conditions. It may take a couple of months or a couple of years. There is no way to determine from time alone.

This page is maintained by Bob Williams
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UpDt 10/17/00