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Growing Magic Truffles: A Beginner’s Guide 

Once you get your technique down, growing magic truffles is a set-and-forget affair that's much easier than growing Psilocybe cubensis.

DoubleBlind Mag

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DoubleBlind // Mycology // Psychedelic Guides
Disclaimer: this article covers a legal theme.

Though many in the psychedelic community know them as “magic truffles,” the dense nuggets often sold in places like the Netherlands are technically sclerotia. Truffles, like the edible kinds rummaged up by trained dogs or pigs and grated over your pasta, contain fungus spores and are actually a specialized form of fruiting body that grows underground. 

Sclerotia, on the other hand, don’t contain any spores at all. Instead, they’re made up of a hardened mass of mycelium. These structures act as a genetic “save point,” and normally form when a fungus has access to lots of nutrients, a process which we growers can manipulate to create an abundant supply of sclerotia. In the wild, once these nutrients have accumulated inside the sclerotia, these structures can lie dormant to survive periods of poor conditions, making them useful to help certain fungal species get through winter. 

READ: How to Lemon Tek: A Complete Guide for Mushroom People

Magic Truffle Cultivation: The Basics

Growing truffles is often the first stop on the new grower’s journey into truffle-producing species like Psilocybe tampanensis and Psilocybe mexicana, though growing their mushrooms is also possible. Different cultivation factors need to be considered depending on whether you’re trying to grow just truffles or you’re trying to grow their mushrooms as well.

Photo of mushroom in the wild
Psilocybe mexicana. Image Courtesy of Alejandro Tux via Mushroom Observer.

How Long Does It Take to Grow Magic Truffles?

Once you have your sterile technique down, growing truffles is a lot easier than growing Psilocybe cubensis as there is no fruiting stage; everything happens within the grain jar itself, and the method is very much “set and forget.” At optimum temperature, full colonization occurs in around three to five weeks, but truffles only begin their slow growth after this point. Most experienced growers recommend leaving grain jars for at least two to three months. 

Photo of mushroom in the wild
Psilocybe cubensis. Image Courtesy of Miku via Mushroom Observer.

What is a Standard Magic Truffle Yield?

Truffle yield depends on factors like genetics and growing conditions, but an achievable yield is somewhere around 20% of your prepared grain weight. This means that if you fill a one-quart Mason jar with about 17 ½ oz (500 g) of prepared grain, you can expect a yield of around 3 ½ oz (100 g). Some growers have achieved even higher yields than this, so if you end up with more, then kudos to you!

READ: An Enthusiast’s Guide to Psilocybe natalensis

Getting Started: Supplies and Shopping List 

You’ll need:

For the grain jars:

  • 1-quart grain jars, or whichever size grain bag you like to work with
  • Prepared hydrated grain
  • Pressure cooker

For inoculation:

  • A still air box (or clean workspace)
  • Gloves
  • Paper towels
  • 70% isopropyl alcohol
  • A lighter or spirit burner (kept outside the still air box if using, to reduce fire risk)
  • Spore (or liquid culture) syringe, colonized grain or agar.

While it’s entirely possible to grow truffles in the same grain jars you would use for growing Psilocybe cubensis, you might want to make extra considerations to increase your yield, improve quality, and make harvesting easier.

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As truffles grow in and around their substrate, the chances of you consuming some of the growing medium are much higher than for mushrooms. As a general rule, if you wouldn’t eat any of your bulk substrate ingredients, keep them out of your truffle grow projects! 

Ingredients like manure are therefore best avoided, and grain and gypsum should be food-grade. Ingredients like coir and straw, while being parts of plants used to grow edible food (coconuts and cereal grains, respectively), may not be as clean as the food itself. We’ve also found that these fibrous materials easily tangle into the growing truffles, making an already unpalatable experience of chewing on these gnarly, mildly acidic nuggets even worse. 

Vermiculite is also a debatable call, especially if you’re attempting to grow truffles using PF Tek. Though high-quality vermiculite should be completely inert and pass through your body without problems, it’s not considered a foodstuff in any context, and some people feel (understandably) icky about eating it. 

In theory, wild bird seed should be edible to humans, as it is simply a mix of cereal grains. However, like coir and straw, wild bird seed may be subject to less strict safety testing or produced in facilities with lower standards than for human food, so it’s your call on using this grain to grow truffles. We buy cereal grains from a bulk health food supplier, and although it’s slightly more expensive than most bird seed, we think the peace of mind is worth it.

How to Grow Magic Truffles: Step-by-Step

Making your grain jars:

  1. Prepare your grains according to your preferred method and load into jars or bags.
  2. Pressure cook grain jars for at least 90 minutes at 15 PSI/250 F (121 C); bags with more grain in will need longer.
  3. Allow the pressure cooker to cool completely before opening.

You can inoculate your prepared grain in the same way as any typical Psilocybe cubensis grow, be that with spores, agar wedges, liquid culture, grain-to-grain transfers or even Spiderman Tek bags. 

Once you’ve inoculated your grain, you can incubate your mycelium at the same temperatures commonly used for Psilocybe cubensis (70 to 80 F or 21 to 27 C). Some professional truffle producers keep their mycelium a little warmer, at 82.5 F (28 C), so if you’re especially impatient, this elevated temperature might shave a few days off your long wait to harvest. Some growers shake their grain at around 20% colonization to speed things up a little. At full colonization, grain-to-grain transfers can also be made to multiply your yield.

We recommend waiting at least two to three months from the point of inoculation before harvesting, though some growers have reported good yields from waiting up to six months to a year. Do keep in mind that a few extra jars or bags might give you more truffles in total, compared to fewer left for a longer period of time. 

When it comes to harvest time, rooting out the dense mycelial lumps takes a little work and a fair bit of patience. When your truffles are ready, break up your grain jar as you would for a grain-to-grain transfer and pour the contents into a clean tub or tray. With clean hands, rummage through your grain and pick out all the truffles. Some may need a little extra cleaning to remove any stuck-on grain—a small-bristle brush like the kind found on mushroom foraging knives (or even just a toothbrush) is perfect for this job. If you have a lot of jars to empty, it can be fairly tedious work, so consider bringing a few trusted friends around and having a truffle-sifting party!

Sifted grain is still full of actively growing mycelium, so you can save and spawn it to a pasteurized bulk substrate of your choice to try your hand at growing the mushrooms of truffle-producing species.

Troubleshooting 

Truffles are sensitive to the same issues as other grow projects. However, due to the unique way they grow, there are some extra considerations to keep in mind. 

Contamination

Though some choose to harvest mushrooms from contaminated grows, the risk of getting sick is far greater, due to scelrotia’s close contact with the growing medium. Jars of truffles are vulnerable to all the same kinds of contaminants as other grow projects. Due to the inherent color change that occurs within the jars as truffles grow, it might help to have a few failed traditional grows under your belt so you have a good idea of what contamination looks like. If in doubt, don’t risk it.  

Not Colonizing

Like other growing methods, truffle jars can stall out due to poor temperature control. However, due to their longer growing times, truffle jars are also more sensitive to drying out. This is especially a problem if you’re growing truffles at the upper end of their preferred temperature range, or if your grain jars/bags provide generous gas exchange, as moisture loss through evaporation will naturally be higher. With this in mind, it’s best to use well-prepared grains that hold moisture well—think rye, oat and wheat berries. 

Legality 

Although decriminalization movements are now well underway in many places in the United States, in most countries where psilocybin remains illegal, there’s no legal distinction between mushrooms and truffles.

The one country where this is not the case is the Netherlands. The Dutch authorities banned 186 species of psilocybin-containing mushrooms in 2008. Although this list included truffle-producing species like Psilocybe tampanensis and Psilocybe mexicana, only the mushrooms were banned, creating a legal loophole for the truffles of these species. In 2019, truffles were fully legalized in the Netherlands and are now taxed as “luxury foods.” This has allowed a number of “truffle retreats” to operate in the Netherlands. 

Photo of mushrooms growing in clear bin
Psilocybe tampanensis. Image Courtesy of Workman via Wiki Commons.

As for the rest of the world, if psilocybin is currently illegal in your country, don’t think you can claim Dutch immunity!

This article is an extract from the expanded and updated second edition of best-selling The Psilocybin Mushroom Bible by Dr K Mandrake and Virginia Haze, forthcoming from Green Candy Press in May. 

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DoubleBlind is a trusted resource for news, evidence-based education, and reporting on psychedelics. We work with leading medical professionals, scientific researchers, journalists, mycologists, indigenous stewards, and cultural pioneers. Read about our editorial policy and fact-checking process here.

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DoubleBlind Magazine does not encourage or condone any illegal activities, including but not limited to the use of illegal substances. We do not provide mental health, clinical, or medical services. We are not a substitute for medical, psychological, or psychiatric diagnosis, treatment, or advice. If you are in a crisis or if you or any other person may be in danger or experiencing a mental health emergency, immediately call 911 or your local emergency resources. If you are considering suicide, please call 988 to connect with the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

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