Every year when the temperature drops and the rains come me and Lydia head out into the forest and hunt for magic mushrooms, alongside other species.
Specifically we hunt Psilocybe Subaerginosa, commonly referred to as P.subs.
P subs are a wood loving species of mushroom and can be found in all over the southern states of Australia. We generally hunt in the forests but they are commonly found in parks and playgrounds growing out of the bark.
We enjoy bushwalking so forest hunting suits us well, that way even if we don't find anything we still enjoy ourselves and are often able to find other species we want like the turkey tail.
Anyone who hunts mushrooms knows they grow fast and die fast. It doesn't take long for a pin to sprout into a full mushroom and then release its spores and begin degrading, and that's the ones lucky enough not to get frostbitten, dry out from sun or be eaten.
They also don't stay fresh for long once picked so it is ideal to pick them when you want to eat them or to dry them out.
How to efficiently dry your mushrooms.
If you have it a dehydrator is ideal, unfortunately we don't so we find a nice dark room, lay out a lot of newspaper and spread the mushrooms evenly across the paper. If you want to collect spores or take spore prints use regular paper instead. We then put a fan or two on and ensure there is good airflow in and out of the room. If you have one of those small heater fans they work a dream. If you only have fans it still works but can take a little longer.
You want to wait until the mushrooms are "cracker dry" basically if you pick them up and crumble/break with very little pressure you're good. If they still have some flex and bend they still contain moisture and you want to dry a little more.
Once cracker dry get a large mason jar or something that can be sealed from air. Place all the mushrooms inside and seal it up. If you have silica packets (those little moisture absorbers in packaging and sometimes food) throw a couple of those in as well. If you place them in a cool dark place they should last a good year like this.
Capping the mushrooms.
We personally cap the mushrooms we find, we prefer to eat them in capsule form as it's easier and it is another protective layer during storage.
To begin with we were doing it by hand with a pair of tweezers, grinding up the mushrooms in a coffee grinder and then filling the caps manually. It took a long time and was very monotonous so we quickly decided to invest in a capping machine.
Cheap, efficient and easy to use you can make 100 mushroom capsules in no time. Definitely handy if you're making 1000+>
This works for pretty much any mushroom you want to do it with. Obviously the dried mushrooms are less potent or medicinal than their fresh counterparts but with such a small window for them to grow this is a good way to ensure you have them year round.
Turkey tail mushrooms become somewhat fluffy when you grind them and can be a little more annoying to cap but you can still get there. We cap all the mushrooms we collect including turkey tails for their medicinal benefits of which I am in the process of writing up at the moment.
Once capped we place the mushrooms in an airtight container and then store in a cool dark cupboard or refrigerator if you have the room. Mushrooms (most) tend to dislike sunlight and you generally find them growing in the darkest most tucked away spots in the forest so the same stays true once dried, keeping them cool and out of the sun is important for keeping them active for a long period.
At this point we have tried our dried mushrooms up to a year later and they still have good effects, slightly less pronounced than when first dried but definitely still have what you want/need. I would guess after a year they start to degrade more rapidly but would need to test that to know for sure.
A pretty successful hunt being prepped for drying.
Always be careful when hunting mushrooms and know what it is you're looking for. If you're not 100% sure then toss it, many mushrooms are poisonous and some look very similiar to ones you may be searching for. If possible get someone to help you at first and do lots of research, there are some great websites around to help identify what you've found so use the resources at hand.
All of these are P.sub in various stages of drying or decay
Happy hunting all.