Psilocybin Questions: Do Psychedelic Mushrooms Go Bad?

Psilocybin mushrooms, or “magic mushrooms,”  have become increasingly popular for those interested in personal development, as well as people seeking help over anxiety and depression. Many may wonder if there is an expiration date on psychedelic mushrooms and what the shelf-life of these psychedelics might be. 

Like all mushrooms, psychedelic mushrooms can go bad, but the method of storage determines the length of their shelf-life, as well as the viability of their psychoactive compounds. Fresh mushrooms will last 7-10 days if stored properly in Tupperware or paper bags in the refrigerator, however, drying or freezing them will drastically increase their shelf-life.

There are many different options for drying, freezing, and storing your mushrooms to keep them from expiring and losing potency. The key is to preserve the freshness of the mushroom so that time does not age them to the extent that they rot or become inert.

How Long Do Mushrooms Last?

Fresh mushrooms will typically last a week or two. Their longevity will depend on their freshness and vitality from when they were harvested as well as how they were treated and transported since. Healthy, freshly picked mushrooms that received proper care should be good for two weeks, keeping in mind that they need to be stored properly. 

Benefits to Fresh Mushrooms

Fresh mushrooms are typically the preferred form when it comes to taste. Rather than the bitter flavor and harsh texture you may get when chewing on dried mushrooms, fresh psychedelic mushrooms taste much more like normal mushrooms. They are 90% water, which helps to mask the bitter undertones. Fresh mushrooms also ensure that no potency has been lost due to subsequent drying or storing methods.

While drying is going to be the technique you want to use for a longer shelf life for your mushrooms, you should keep them fresh if you plan to eat them within the next two weeks.

As you dry mushrooms, many of the active compounds will become less potent as they oxidize during the drying process. Not only will you have higher potency with fresh mushrooms, in general, but some even say that fresh mushrooms provide a better visual experience, though this is up for debate. Alternatively, it could simply be that fresh mushrooms help the user avoid entering the experience with both a literal and figurative bad taste in their mouths, which could potentially change the outcome of the experience for the better.

Proper Storage Techniques

When you store fresh mushrooms, you need to be cognizant of the storage method you used. For example, a fresh mushroom at room temperature will start to rot within a day or two, but a dried mushroom kept in an airtight container can last for years.

The two most common methods of storage for fresh mushrooms are:

  • Paper Bags
  • Tupperware

If you use paper bags, be sure to roll the bags up before storing them so that the mushrooms are not exposed to the elements. The paper bag itself will help absorb any additional moisture you may get due to the natural moisture of your fridge. Alternatively, you can choose to store your mushrooms in a Tupperware container with a paper towel to achieve the same effect.

If you would prefer to keep your mushrooms fresh and would rather not dry them, you can also utilize food vacuum packers. These will reduce the risk of oxidation and allow fresh mushrooms to stay potent longer. This process should extend shelf life up to three months.

How to Dry Your Mushrooms

If you need to store your mushrooms for a longer period than fresh mushrooms will allow, there are different methods for drying them. According to Erowid, a collection of mushrooms dating back to 1861 was found in England that remained fully potent when they were discovered, due to having been properly dried.

There are a few different drying methods to consider:

Sun / Air Drying

The simplest way to dry your mushrooms will also be the method that takes the longest. Allowing your shrooms to air dry will take about 2-3 days, but it is a no-hassle way to get it done. Place the mushrooms on clean sheets of paper towel on a flat surface where they will get good airflow and see some sunshine. The more sun they receive, the faster this process will go. If they experience high temperatures from the direct sunlight, this process may even take less than 24 hours, so keep an eye on them if they are in direct sunlight on a hot day

Oven

If you don’t want to take the time to allow them to air dry and go directly for the oven, you can slowly warm them over 2-6 hours in an oven.

  • Place them on a tray with oven-safe paper.
  • Put the tray in the oven while it is still cool.
  • Set the oven to 90 degrees.
  • If the oven has a fan setting, turn that on as well.
  • Allow them to stay in there for 2-6 hours, checking on them occasionally to see how they are progressing.

Don’t allow them to stay in too long, as extreme heat for long periods can negatively affect (reduce) the overall potency. 

Epsom Salt

Salt is a natural dehydrator and can be used as a desiccant to dry mushrooms. You will first need to make the desiccant with your salt and then use it for the drying process.

Making the Desiccant:

  • Fill a baking tray with Epsom salt.
  • Heat to 400 degrees.
  • Cook for about 2 hours.
  • When you take it out, the salt will have become a solid cake. Quickly break up the salt-cake as soon as possible and place the pieces in an airtight jar. Do not let it cool first– try to do this step as quickly as possible.

Using the Desiccant:

  • Cover the desiccant at the bottom of the jar with a paper towel.
  • Use metal mesh to create a platform over the desiccant and paper towel to create a shelf for the mushrooms. 
  • Close the container tightly to ensure no air is coming in or out.
  • Let it sit for a couple of days, checking on it frequently. 

The desiccant will absorb all the moisture from the mushrooms, and the airtight jar will prevent oxidation and other contaminants from occurring

Once they are “cracker-dry” after a few days, they are ready for storage. The term cracker-dry refers to the mushrooms being brittle enough that they will snap if you attempt to bend them – like a cracker. Regardless of the drying method, if they are not completely cracker-dry they are still prone to rotting, regardless of the storage method. 

Food Dehydrators

Food dehydrators are an excellent way to dry out mushrooms. You will need to follow the instructions specific to the model of dehydrator you have. Dehydrators are a great alternative to anyone who lives in a moist or rainy climate where drying them can be more difficult. 

Some people recommend turning off the heating mechanism of their food dehydrator as an added level of precaution against potency loss due to heat, but this issue is heavily debated. People using the maximum heat setting on their dehydrator report no noticeable loss in potency, and in fact suggest that because the mushrooms dried faster, potency loss due to oxidation is less likely.

Storing Dried Mushrooms

Once you have dried out your mushrooms, you will need to store them in an airtight resealable glass container or jar. Keep this jar in a cool, dark place and be sure that the lid is sealed tightly.

Don’t be alarmed if, after drying them, the mushrooms appear to have shrunk. Fresh mushrooms are roughly 90% water, so the drying process will also significantly reduce their size. A good rule of thumb is that a dried mushroom will be 1/10th or 10% of its fresh weight. Therefore 10 grams of fresh mushrooms will come out to about 1 gram dried.

Risks of Using Older Mushrooms

Using proper storage techniques after a drying process will help keep mushrooms both safe and potent for consumption. Always be aware of mushrooms that have turned into a dark brown or black or have grown any mold. If they don’t smell like mushrooms, and especially if they give off a sweet odour, they should be thrown away immediately. Even if they still contain active psilocybin, the purpose of ingesting psychedelics is for a positive experience, which will be severely hindered by ingesting potentially dangerous fungal rot. 

Enjoying Your Experience on Mushrooms

Once you decide the best way to preserve your mushrooms, you will be able to enjoy them for months or even years to come. Remember that mushrooms can easily go bad if they are not stored correctly, and drying will always be the best way to keep them safe and potent for as long as possible.