If you’ve ever purchased a package of ready-to-consume psychedelic mushrooms, chances are you were handed a bag of dried out mushroom stems and caps that could snap into pieces with the gentlest twist. A novice to the realm of magic mushrooms may be confused about why their concoction of golden caps and white stems appear to be parched and a bit crispy, unlike fresh portobellos you’d expect to find in the grocery store produce section.
The fact of the matter is: You need to dry your magic mushrooms as soon as they’re harvested—and you need to do it quickly. To preserve the aesthetics and potency of your freshly grown shrooms, the drying process is the final stretch before you can experience the ineffable power of psilocybin. It’s also an essential and time-sensitive endeavor, one that requires swift action and the right equipment.
Thankfully, there are quite a few ways to transform freshly harvested Psilocybe cubensi, the psychedelic mushroom that is most popular and easiest to grow, into its baked and wilted form. All you need is a source of heat and air, along with a little know-how. Here’s everything you need to know about how to dry magic mushrooms.
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Drying Magic Mushrooms: Why It’s Important?
After spending a fair amount of time and patience waiting for your magic mushrooms to grow, you may be wondering why it’s necessary to dry them out as quickly as possible once the harvesting stage is complete. The drying process impacts both the aesthetic and structural quality of the shrooms, requiring the producer to dry them quickly and correctly.
One major issue is that any moisture left behind can cause your batch of mushrooms to decompose. Because mushrooms are generally made up of over 90 percent water, it doesn’t take long for them to spoil from its moisture content. Therefore, failure to dry them properly can lead to disastrous conditions for your batch.
“You’re looking for a really dry mushroom because if you leave any moisture behind it’s really going to start decomposition and allows microbials to get in there and start contaminating and start decomposing it,” Del Potter, PhD, CSO of Leef Labs and AYA Biosciences, tells DoubleBlind.
Aside from the risk of decomposition, failure to properly dry out the mushroom caps and stems can also lead to unwanted cosmetic issues. As Potter notes, you want your shrooms to come out with golden caps and bright white stems. However, moisture or improper handling of your harvest can cause the mushrooms to take on a bluish or dark color—making them less appealing to the consumer.
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How to Dry Magic Mushrooms
Now that we’ve established why drying is so significant, let’s explore how to dry magic mushrooms using a variety of methods! Ideally, you’re going to have a vertical or horizontal dehydrator on hand. If not, there are other—albeit slightly less effective—ways to dry out your shrooms.
No matter what equipment (or lack thereof) you have revved up and ready to go, the first step of the drying process is to clean the bottoms of the stems by cutting off the area upon which there is still some substrate. The substrate is the layer of material used as the base for the mycelium to grow. Although it played a critical role in the growing process, it’s no longer useful to the end-goal: getting your shrooms dried out and ready for consumption.
The next step will depend on which type of dehydrator you have at your disposal. There are other ways to dry magic mushrooms without a dehydrator, but this is certainly the preferred hardware for the sake of efficiency. Here’s a step-by-step for both the vertical dehydrator and horizontal dehydrator.
1. Place the largest mushrooms on the top ring tray and the smallest on bottom ring tray.
2. If your dehydrator does not have a timer, set the temperature to 110-120ºF.
3. Set an alarm or timer for two hours.
4. Check trays and remove dried mushrooms once the timer goes off. You will know if they are done by checking whether they’re “cracker” dry. In other words, you should be able to easily snap the stem.
1. If your dehydrator is a vertical dehydrator, place the largest mushrooms closest to the fan and the smallest nearest to the door.
2. Set temp at 158ºF and the timer to two hours.
3. Add more time if the mushrooms are not cracker dry.
Horizontal and vertical dehydrators will both do the trick when it comes to drying, but if you’re trying to decide which one to purchase before embarking on your shroom growing journey, Potter personally views the horizontal dehydrator as more effective.
“I kind of like the horizontal dehydrator just because there’s more surface area and they basically dry more rapidly,” he explains. “Again, my whole point of view is to get them dry as rapidly as you possibly can. And it seems like air blowing over more surface area on the horizontal is probably a more effective and faster method.”
Alternative Drying Methods
While a dehydrator is recommended for this utmost important task, there are other alternative methods that can be used instead. One of these is called the Sushi Mat system, which can be done with a sushi mat, paper towels, and some sunlight. Here’s how you use the Sushi Mat system to dry your shrooms:
1. Place the mat on a paper towel in an area with direct sunlight and ventilation. Make sure this location is far away from pets or other areas that might see high traffic.
2. Place your clean magic mushrooms on the mat.
3. Depending on the weight of the mushrooms, this process can take up to 24 hours before they fully dried out.
4. Make sure they are cracker dry before storing, if they are still “wet” they will mold.
Potter also suggests some other makeshift methods that can successfully dry out your freshly harvested shrooms. In past situations, he has simply scattered his shrooms onto a screen and placed them next to a heating vent so that the circulating warm air would dry out the stems and caps.
You could also put your magic mushrooms on a window screen and use a tiny fan with an electric heater underneath. With this method, you’d have to keep a close eye on the mushrooms to make sure they’re fully dried. Additionally, the window screen could cause cosmetic damage, as the sun hitting the screen could leave small grid lines on the surface of your shrooms. Whichever method you decide to go with, the key is to have warm air constantly and quickly moving throughout the batch of mushrooms.
This is why trying to dry mushrooms in an oven, for instance, is an ill-advised idea. The still air inside of your standard oven will just cause you to bake the mushrooms rather than effectively dry them. Although the alternative methods that technically do the trick, Potter firmly advocates for using a dehydrator to ensure that the mushrooms are free of moisture and cracker-dry.
“You’ve gone through so much trouble to produce a beautiful mushroom,” he says. “I would really try to make some effort to make sure they’re dried properly.”
How Long Does It Take to Dry Magic Mushrooms
There are several factors that will determine how long it takes to dry out your magic mushrooms, including the dehydration method used and the size of your batch. Ultimately, instead of trying to put a strict time limit on the drying process, it is better to use several identifiers to figure out whether your shrooms are properly dried out.
Potter reiterates that you want your magic mushrooms to be “cracker dry,” able to snap the stem with ease. He compares the dried snap that you want to that of a cannabis stem. There should be absolutely no moisture left behind in a perfectly dried mushroom.
The ideal final product is a collection of extremely dried caps and stems. You want your caps to be golden in color, while the stems should stand out with a white surface. Once you’ve successfully dried out your shrooms, you should place them in a vacuum sealed bag with a desiccant pack and store them away in a dark, cool place.
And those are the essentials to drying magic mushrooms. Remember, if you can afford it, acquire a dehydrator to ensure that your shrooms get the proper drying they deserve. If you have to opt for an alternative method, such as the Sushi Mat system, keep a close eye on your batch and make sure they come out cracker dry and completely moisture-free.
Tyler Koslow is a writer and editor with experience in cannabis, music, and general tech. You can find his words in High Times, Merry Jane, and Weedmaps News, among other publications. When he’s not tapping away at his laptop keyboard, you can find him stuck in a three-hour synth loop, pestering his chubby orange cat, or taking in the sights on a leisurely hike.