Harvesting mushrooms by hand isn’t rocket science, but there is a way to do it right—and a way to do it wrong. Find out how to harvest your magic mushrooms so you can enjoy multiple flushes of healthy, uncontaminated shrooms every time.
If you know what you are doing, harvesting your magic mushrooms by hand should be no problem. However, to avoid complications, growers must make sure to harvest their crop on time, and using the correct technique. Additionally, growers should be careful to sterilise all of the equipment they use so as to avoid bacterial or mould problems.
Over the years, the growing and harvesting techniques used to produce magic mushrooms have not changed very much. If you know what to look for, mushrooms will let you know when they are ready to harvest. Harvesting on time is key to maintaining their quality and appearance. Moreover, as long as you remember to work sterile and take care when handling the mushrooms, the harvesting process can be quite quick and easy.
WHEN TO HARVEST
Harvest occurs after the casing and pinning processes that prepare mushrooms to spawn and grow.
The casing process involves spreading mycelium-infused compost into containers that function as mushroom beds. A layer of peat is then added on top of the compost to act as a casing material. The mushroom mixture is kept in this state for about six days, constantly being watered in order to maintain moisture. Within roughly two days, the mycelium should be ready to grow through the peat and go through the pinning process.
However, customers who grow their magic mushrooms with one of our ready-to-use grow kits do not have to worry about going through the casing process. Our kits are designed to save you time and effort while still guaranteeing a fresh crop of healthy mushrooms.
Pinning is a process that involves creating autumn weather conditions so as to force the development of little white pins. These pins will eventually develop into small buds, and then mushrooms. Growers are advised to maintain a constant environmental temperature of 23°C throughout this stage. If this is a problem, placing a heated mat underneath your grow containers should help to establish a consistent temperature. Our Infrared Mushroom Heat Mat can help your mushrooms to colonise and develop faster.
After these processes, mushrooms are ready to grow until harvest. After about three weeks of growth, the first flush can be harvested, with the second being picked approximately 9–10 days later.
HOW TO KNOW MUSHROOMS ARE READY FOR HARVEST
You will know that your mushrooms are ready for harvest by the status of the veil underneath their caps. If this veil has broken, then it is time to harvest. However, we at Magic Mushrooms recommend that you harvest right before the breaking of the veil. This will prevent the spores from being released—more about this below. At this point in their life cycle, the mushrooms will have developed light, well-rounded, conical-shaped caps perfect for use.
IS IT BETTER TO HARVEST TOO EARLY OR TOO LATE?
It is always better to harvest your mushrooms a little too early, rather than a little too late. Picking mushrooms too late will result in the cap opening and releasing its spores. This is troublesome because the mycelium releases hormones that tell them to stop fruiting and start colonising. The final result could be a grow kit that is incapable of producing any further flushes, resulting in dramatically reduced yields.
When spores are released, they cover the mushroom in purple and black spots. While this may not affect the potency of the mushroom, it will cause a mess and will lower the aesthetic quality of your mushrooms.
HOW TO HARVEST
When your mushrooms are ready to harvest, you should pick them by hand. Doing so will reduce the potential for damaging them.
Mushrooms can be harvested by being pulled upwards from their base while performing a twisting motion in a counter-clockwise direction. Be careful not to use too much force as this could end up damaging the mycelium. Harvesting with dry hands is always a good idea. Small tweezers can be used to help you pick the shorter mushrooms that may be more difficult to grip.
A gentle, small brush can be used to brush off any remaining substrate or vermiculite on the shrooms.
Working sterile is one of the most important things to remember when harvesting mushrooms. Ideally, sterile rubber gloves should be worn so as to prevent contamination. However, regularly and thoroughly washing your hands before working with mushrooms is also recommended. Neglecting to work sterile could lead to contamination by mould or bacteria. Sterilising your growth tools and containers before utilising them is also necessary. Smaller containers can be conveniently sterilised through a process that involves boiling and steaming them.
Drying and storage is an important part of the post-harvest process. Mushrooms that will be consumed within 10 days can be stored in a refrigerator. However, shrooms that need to be stored for the long-term need to go through the drying process. This process is extremely simple; just spread the mushrooms out on a cloth or kitchen towel and allow them to dry. When setting your mushrooms to dry, make sure that none of them are touching each other as this could lead to rot. Additionally, changing the drying towel or cloth for a new one every few days will also help to prevent any kind of mushroom rot.