I've heard from a world famous mycologist that you should pickle your wood plugs prior to inoculation. What solution should I use to pickle them?
He's talking about pasteurizing wood chips or straw using immersion in water to create an anaerobic environment to kill off the aerobic bacteria and fungi. Then he removes the water to expose the wood chips to air and inoculates them with mycelium. With no aerobic competitors, the mycelium then runs rapidly. This is a known method of pasteurizing without the need for heat.
Wooden dowels are much more compact, and it's easier to just boil them to sterilize them.