When it comes to dosing mushrooms, it’s better to be conservative and leave some over for next time if need be than to overdo it. If you’ve acquired more mushrooms than you can consume in one sitting, you may want to store them until you’re ready for another trip. This begs the question: Do shrooms go bad?
The answer depends on several factors, including what form the shrooms come in and how you store them. Read on for everything you need to know about whether, when, and how mushrooms go bad.
Do Shrooms Go Bad?
The short answer is yes. “It is common sense,” says mycology teacher Ophelia Chong. “Like any vegetable, it will go bad.”
There are two basic ways that mushrooms can deteriorate. One is simply that they lose their potency. “Over time, the active chemicals will break down,” says Drew Bolitho, owner of MushroomSpawnStore.com. “It varies based on the storage method. Stored properly, mushrooms can last years.” Once mushrooms lose potency, they’re hard to dose correctly because there’s no way to tell exactly how much of their psychoactive compounds remain, says James Giordano, professor of neurology and biochemistry at Georgetown University Medical Center.
Another possibility is that mushrooms can develop bacteria or mold. It’s essential to look out for signs that this has happened because you may be sensitive to whatever is responsible for making the mushrooms go bad, says Giordano. “Many people are very sensitive to mold spores; you can get sick to your stomach or develop respiratory problems,” he explains.
Do Fresh Shrooms Go Bad?
Fresh shrooms can rot, get moldy, or otherwise get contaminated quickly, especially if they’re not stored properly. However, it is possible to dry them so that they won’t go bad. “Fresh mushrooms should be stored in a paper bag with a paper towel at the bottom in a refrigerator,” says mycologist William Padilla-Brown. “If stored in a paper bag, they won’t go bad. They should just dry out unless the paper becomes oversaturated with water.”
READ: How To Dry Mushrooms
Do Dried Shrooms Go Bad?
Dried mushrooms become less potent over time, says Padilla-Brown. Specifically, shrooms gradually lose their concentration of tryptamine, a chemical that acts on the brain to produce psychedelic effects like hallucinations. “But if stored air-tight, they won’t go bad in a way that will make you sick,” says Padilla-Brown. In other words, while poorly stored dried shrooms can pick up mold and bacteria like fresh shrooms, well-stored dry shrooms should remain safe to consume indefinitely; they may just not have a strong effect.
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“There’s more research that needs to be done, but a rule of thumb is that if mushrooms are unprocessed and exposed to air, they lose a fraction of their potency over time,” says Dorna Pourang, psychedelic researcher and MUD\WTR’s psychedelics advisor. “Don’t stock up for a lifetime.”
When Do Magic Mushrooms Go Bad?
The time it takes for mushrooms to go bad depends on the type of mushroom. “Fresh mushrooms only last you about three or four days,” says Giordano. “That fifth day, start looking for things.” He adds that dried mushrooms can last for over a year, estimating that, on average, they last about a year and a half.
Mushrooms in powder or capsule form will generally last around 6-12 months. “Any method that results in the mushrooms being turned into powder or broken into fine pieces results in quicker degradation due to oxidization,” says Bolitho.
Mushroom chocolates, on the other hand, can last for years in the freezer, says Giordano. For the best results, he recommends thawing them in the fridge until they’re chilled rather than frozen, then thawing them the rest of the way at room temperature. Still, Chong does not recommend putting mushroom chocolates in the refrigerator or freezer if you can avoid it, as this will degrade the quality of the chocolate and cause the shrooms to lose their potency. “Eat your shroom chocolates right away for the best experience,” she says.
Reasons Why Magic Mushrooms Go Bad
Magic mushrooms go bad for many reasons, mostly related to their storage and preparation. For this reason, properly drying and storing your mushrooms is a must—particularly after wild foraging or harvesting a homegrown batch. Here are the top reasons why shrooms go bad:
They Were Stored in the Wrong Kind of Container
Fresh mushrooms stored in plastic are prone to bacterial contamination, says Padilla-Brown; he recommends storing them in a paper bag. A Tupperware or pyrex container should work for dried mushrooms, says Giordano. Bolitho recommends a glass jar.
READ: How To Store Shrooms
They Were Stored in the Wrong Environment
“Mushrooms stored in the dark will stay potent longer,” says Padilla-Brown. According to Chong, it is best to store dried mushrooms in a cupboard away from sunlight or air, as light can cause them to lose potency. In addition, make sure you keep dried mushrooms someplace dry; they can go bad if they’re somewhere too humid.
They Weren’t Dried Properly
Mushrooms should be thoroughly dried before you store them. “If it still has bend or squishiness to it, that means it hasn’t been fully dried and is still retaining moisture,” says Pourang. “No matter how well you store the mushroom, the internal moisture lends the environment to rotting, which is not safe for consumption.”
The easiest way to dry mushrooms is with a dehydrator; you can learn more about how to do so in this article. It would be best if you dried your mushrooms right away once they’re harvested. In addition, Pourang cautions against getting very large mushrooms because these are harder to dry all the way through.
They Weren’t Cleaned Properly
“People who grow with care will take the extra time to manicure the mushroom thoroughly by hand after picking them,” says Pourang. “If you look at the mushroom, examine the base mushroom (pay attention to the bottom of the stem) to see if there are specks of dirt or substrate still on it. That’s a sign that the grower didn’t take extra care to properly clean the mushroom before drying it. The presence of soil or debris, especially at the base of the mushroom, is a sign of a dirty mushroom and certainly is a red flag that they’re more prone to going bad.”
They Are Overly Hydrated
Dried shrooms can go bad if they get too hydrated, which usually results from improper storage. “If they are not completely dehydrated, the moisture will create a host for mold,” says Chong. To avoid this problem, make sure the container they are stored in is air-tight. You can also put moisture-absorbing silica packets or oxygen-absorbing packets in the container, says Bolitho.
How Do You Tell If Your Shrooms Have Gone Bad?
Shrooms that have gone bad will generally have a distinctive appearance, smell, and taste. “A good rule of thumb is to look at it as any food product; use your nose and eyes to see if it is moldy or has any other contaminants on it,” says Chong. Specifically, here are a few signs that your shrooms may have gone bad.
According to Padilla-Brown, shrooms that are contaminated by bacteria may have a slimy texture. Throw them out if they are soggy or wet to the touch.
They Have Fuzz on Them
Rarely, if fresh mushrooms are stored in plastic, they can start to consume themselves, which will cause white fuzz to appear on them, says Padilla-Brown. In addition, dry mushrooms that have been stored improperly can develop fuzzy white, black, or brown spots due to bacterial overgrowth, says Giordano. You don’t need to worry about blue or blue color; that’s just the psilocybin.
They Have an Unusual Smell
“The other thing is they just start to smell funny,” says Giordano. A mushroom that’s picked up bacteria might have a sweet or dirt-like smell.
They’re Soft or Malleable
Dried mushrooms should be “cracker dry,” says Padilla-Brown — that is, dry enough that they will break if you try to bend them. “If they are soft or mailable, they may have gone bad,” he says.
A good rule of thumb? “If you lightly pinch the pack and you feel the mushrooms are still spongy and bounce back to the touch, be wary,” Pourang says.