Can Shrooms Go Bad?

Discover essential tips for identifying, drying, and storing shrooms to ensure a safe and positive psychedelic experience.

Overview: Magic mushrooms, or shrooms, contain psilocybin with therapeutic potential for mental health. Historical use by indigenous groups dates back centuries. To maintain potency, shrooms should be properly identified, dried, and stored. Spoilage indicators include discoloration, moisture, mold, and unpleasant odor. Proper storage methods include airtight containers, refrigeration for fresh shrooms, shroom edibles, and avoiding freezing. Prioritize safety, discard if in doubt, and be aware of signs of spoilage for a positive and safe psychedelic experience.

Knowing Your Shrooms

Shrooms, also known as magic mushrooms, are a type of fungi that contain the psychedelic compound psilocybin. Psilocybin has shown promise in the treatment of certain mental health conditions. Studies suggest that psilocybin-assisted therapy can have positive therapeutic effects on individuals with anxiety, depression, and addiction. 

When shrooms are consumed, the psilocybin inside them changes to psilocin. Unlike psilocybin, psilocin can enter your brain and cause psychedelic effects. The effects of shrooms can depend a lot on the amount you take (dose), set (mindset), and setting (the environment in which the experience takes place), and can include changes in perception, emotion, thoughts, and sense of self. 

People consume shroom for different reasons, such as recreation, creativity, self-medication, or spiritual exploration. When picking your own psilocybin shrooms, correctly identifying them is crucial. Being familiar with the mushrooms’ physical traits aids in accurate identification and helps determine if they may have gone bad.

There are approximately 200 different species of psilocybin mushrooms that grow in various regions across the globe. 

Brief History of Magic Mushrooms

Archaeological evidence from Europe and Central America suggests that psilocybin mushrooms may have been used in ritual ceremonies for many thousands of years. 

Indigenous groups in Mexico, particularly the Aztecs and the Mazatec people, have a long history of using psilocybin mushrooms in various cultural and religious practices. The use of these mushrooms for divination, healing, and religious rituals predates the Spanish conquest.

The Mazatec people, for example, have a rich tradition of using mushrooms, particularly Psilocybe mexicana, in religious ceremonies. María Sabina, a Mazatec curandera (traditional healer), gained international recognition for her use of magic mushrooms in healing rituals. These rituals often involve ingestion of the mushrooms to induce altered states of consciousness, believed to facilitate communication with spirits, divine entities, or to gain insights.

The discovery of sacred mushroom ceremonies in Oaxaca, Mexico eventually led the Swiss chemist and LSD inventor Albert Hofmann to isolate psilocybin as the primary psychoactive component of Psilocybe mexicana. This breakthrough triggered significant scientific interest across the Western world, leading to a surge in magic mushroom research during the 1950s and 60s.

However, legal restrictions in the 1970s greatly hindered further studies after psilocybin became classified as a Schedule I drug. 

What is the Shelf Life of Magic Mushrooms?

Psilocybin mushrooms have the potential to go bad over time. Mushrooms can become vulnerable to contamination by bacteria or mold and the amount of psilocybin and psilocin found in shrooms can decrease

There are two primary processes that contribute to shrooms going bad: decomposition and degradation.

Decomposition of shrooms: Under certain conditions, bacteria and mold can break down the various components that make up the mushroom's structure and composition (organic matter), including cells, tissues, proteins, carbohydrates, and other organic substances present in the mushroom. This can lead to visible signs that the mushroom is going bad which if ingested can result in nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and general discomfort.

When other types of fungi infect mushrooms, it serves as a sign that the mushrooms have spoiled and should be disposed of correctly. This kind of spoilage carries significant health risks as it exposes individuals to potential toxins or infections that can be caused by bacteria and mold.

Degradation of shrooms: Degradation occurs when shrooms are exposed to particular conditions that cause the breakdown of its active compounds, psilocybin and psilocin. This degradation ultimately reduces the potency and psychedelic properties of the mushrooms which affects the duration and intensity of psychedelic effects.  

A recent study found that the compounds degrade when fresh mushrooms are physically harmed or damaged. To prevent degradation of psilocybin, it was found that drying the mushrooms in the dark at room temperature was the most suitable condition.

Properly stored, dried mushrooms can maintain their potency for several months to a year. Interestingly, however, research suggests that dried mushroom powder degrades rapidly during storage. 

It's important to note that wet mushrooms have a shorter shelf life and should be consumed within a few days for safe consumption. To store wet mushrooms, it is recommended to place them in a paper bag and keep them in the refrigerator. If left unrefrigerated, their freshness lasts only a few days at most. 

Drying Magic Mushrooms

After cleaning your magic mushrooms, it is recommended to lay them out on a flat surface to dry. This allows for even airflow and facilitates the drying process, especially in a moderately warm environment with humidity levels ranging between 55% and 65%. Ensure the surface is clean and the mushrooms are spread out in a single layer to promote effective drying.

It is important to keep the shrooms away from direct sunlight during the air drying process to prevent potential damage (such as loss of potency or degradation). To promote even drying, using a wire rack can be helpful, as it allows air to circulate around the mushrooms from all sides.

If placing shrooms on a paper towel, cloth, or mat, flipping them every few hours can also aid in the drying process. The mushrooms are considered fully dried when the stems can be easily snapped.

While using a dehydrator can enhance the drying process, it is not advisable to utilize an oven or any other heat source, as excessive heat can lead to a degradation of psilocybin present in the mushrooms. Shrooms are sensitive to high temperatures and can become less potent or even lose their effectiveness if exposed to prolonged heat.

Once the mushrooms are dried, they can be ground and easily weighed for macro- and microdosing purposes. Macrodosing refers to consuming a standard dose of psilocybin mushrooms for a more intense psychedelic experience, while microdosing involves taking smaller amounts of mushrooms on a consistent schedule for more subtle effects.

By drying shrooms, one can avoid the need to consume them shortly after harvesting, allowing for the flexibility to research and prepare for the ideal set and setting for a psychedelic experience. 

How to Store Shrooms

The study mentioned above also found that storing shrooms under different conditions may lead to a significant reduction in psilocybin and psilocin content. Proper storage is crucial for preserving the potency and quality of psychedelic mushrooms. Here are some recommended storage methods:

Airtight container: When it comes to storing dried shrooms, using an airtight container has been proven to be the most effective method. Containers such as mason jars, lunchboxes, or vacuum-sealed bags can provide a suitable airtight environment, preserving the mushrooms in a dark, dry, and cool place.

Storing dried mushrooms in such an environment helps to minimize the exposure to oxygen, which can contribute to the deterioration of the mushrooms over time. By reducing oxygen exposure, the quality and shelf life of the dried mushrooms can be better preserved.

Including the step of sterilizing the containers can help reduce the likelihood of mold or bacterial growth. To further enhance storage conditions, the use of a desiccant is recommended.

Refrigerator for fresh shrooms: While storing fresh mushrooms in the refrigerator is acceptable, it is important to note that keeping dried mushrooms at lower temperatures can lead to faster potency degradation. Fresh psilocybin mushrooms can remain fresh for a few days when stored in the fridge, but to prevent moisture buildup that may cause spoilage, it is advisable to use a paper bag instead of an airtight container.

Shroom edibles: For those seeking sweetness and extended shelf life, incorporating dried and powdered shrooms into high-quality, high-cacao content chocolate or infusing them in honey can be a viable option. The natural sugars in the honey and cacao act as preservatives, allowing these combinations to be stored for approximately 6 to 12 months.

Freezing: Freezing shrooms can also help prevent spoilage, but due to the high moisture content of mushrooms, it is crucial to dry them first before freezing. It's important to be aware that frozen mushrooms may have a softer texture upon thawing. However, it is generally not recommended to freeze mushrooms, as the freezing process can degrade the potency of psilocybin and psilocin, ultimately affecting the overall quality of the mushrooms. A recent study found that mushrooms stored in the freezer experienced a substantial loss of approximately 90% of their active compounds.

Signs Your Magic Mushrooms Have Gone Bad

To ensure your safety, it is important to be aware of the indications that your shrooms may have gone bad.

Discoloration: When mushrooms harbor mold or bacteria, they may exhibit a dark black or brown color. However, a blue tinge coloration is generally safe as it indicates the presence of psilocybin. Distinguishing inconsistencies or abnormalities in coloration is typically noticeable, but it is advisable to conduct thorough research on the species beforehand.

Moisture: A notable sign of spoilage in dried psilocybin mushrooms is the loss of their crisp dryness. This can be assessed by observing whether the stems bend rather than snap, indicating the presence of an undesirable level of moisture.

Mold: Mold on shrooms can appear as green, black, or white fuzzy patches or spots on the surface of the mushrooms. It may have a powdery or fuzzy texture and can spread across the mushroom's cap or stem. It is important to note that any mold growth on mushrooms indicates spoilage and renders them unsafe for consumption.

Unpleasant odor: Healthy shrooms typically emit an earthy, musky, slightly sweet scent. If you detect a particular unpleasant or foul odor, it is best to exercise caution and refrain from consuming them. 

A Final Note

When it comes to consuming psilocybin mushrooms, prioritizing safety and well-being is essential. It is possible for your shrooms to spoil and go bad. If there are any doubts about their condition, it is best to err on the side of caution and discard them. To prevent disappointing spoilage, it is crucial to preserve and store shrooms in optimal conditions.

It is also important to remain vigilant in checking for signs of spoilage, including discoloration, unpleasant smell, and moisture. Consuming shrooms that have been affected by mold or bacteria may have a negative impact on one’s psychedelic experience and can pose serious risks to your physical health.

Being mindful of these signs and taking appropriate precautions can help to ensure a safe and positive mushroom journey.

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