The veil underneath the cap of the mushroom indicates when the mushrooms can be harvested. When this veil breaks open, it is time to harvest. If you wait too long, the cap will open and release its spores. The substrate and the mushroom itself will become covered in black/purple spores. Although this does not affect the potency of the mushrooms, it is best avoided. Harvesting in stages is an option, but beware of contamination. Always wash your hands thoroughly before harvesting mushrooms. Or even better, wear sterile rubber gloves.
Mature mushrooms can be harvested by grabbing the mushroom by the base, and performing a twisting, counterclockwise motion. Pulling the mushroom straight out of the mycelium with too much force can damage the mycelium.
After harvesting, you can use a small brush to gently brush off any vermiculite or substrate left on the mushroom. However, do not wash the mushrooms.
Drying and storing
Fresh mushrooms can be stored in the refrigerator, but only for 3-10 days (depending on the specie and moisture content). For long term storage, drying them is a better option.
Mushrooms contain about 90% water, so drying them is not only an excellent method for storage, it also decreases their size, thus making transport easier. To dry mushrooms, all you need is air circulation and a warm spot. An effective method for drying mushrooms is by placing them on kitchen paper and directing a fan at the mushrooms to provide a constant airflow. At a temperature of 25-30c the mushrooms should be cracker dry in a few days.
Storing dried mushrooms
There are several ways to store dried mushrooms. Most important in order for the shrooms to maintain potency, is to store them airtight and in a dark spot.
- Honey. Chop the mushroom up in smaller pieces, or use a jar large enough for the mushrooms to sit in. Make sure you write down the contents (weight) of mushrooms added per unit of honey to avoid dosage mishaps!
- Freezer. Freezing dried mushrooms is said to be the best method for long term storage. Make sure the mushrooms are completely dry before freezing them, or they will become mushy and prone to rot. Store them in an airtight container or plastic bags.
- Airtight bags/container. Pack the dried shrooms in a (ziplock)bag. Squeeze out all the oxygen and close the bag. Put the first bag in another bag and pack it airtight. Store in a cool, dark spot.