This is a question from Jamie, thank you, this is a great one!

My answer:

Yes, you absolutely can use hardwood pellets instead of vermiculite when you do brown rice flour cakes.

LowShiitakeCake

All you have to do is:

  1. Make sure you only use hardwood type of wood.
  2. Weight how much wood pellets, or sawdust, you have and put it in a bowl (for 10 cakes, prepare about 454gr of dry sawdust)
  3. Mesure twice as much water as you have wood (so if you have 1kg of wood, mesure 2kg of water).
  4. Bring your water to a boil and pour it on your wood pellet or sawdust.
  5. Put a lid over the wood and wait at least 30 minutes, the wood needs to absorb all the water.
  6. Once the wood is cool enough to touch it, take a handful of it and sqeeze it; you want a sponge-like texture, only a few drops should fall when you press it hard. If it’s too dry, add more water, if it’s too muddy, add sawdust.
  7. Use the hydrated sawdust as you would do it with hydrated vermiculite: use 4 cup for 10 cakes
  8. Procede to the usual next step of the brown rice flour cake technique, which is step 1.1.3 in The Beginner’s Guide to Growing Mushrooms.

This procedure works very well with most wood-loving species such as shiitake, oyster, nameko, reishi, etc.
Happy Mushrooming!

Simon