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Preservation Harm Reduction

On this page, you'll find information to try to help keep yourself out of harm's way as much as possible when collecting and preserving fungi.  Responsible methodology, proper hygiene, and care to follow procedure with attention to detail are of utmost importance if you are going to attempt to partake in the collection and preservation of mushrooms containing active compounds. 

This page is not to be taken as stand-alone advice but is to be read in conjunction with the information found on our other pages in the "Harm Reduction" drop-down menu, to better facilitate safer practices.

Mushrooms that contain psilocybin are classified as a Class A substance in NZ. Possession of mushrooms containing psilocybin and psilocin (the compounds which cause their psychedelic effects) risks six months in prison. Cultivating or supplying them is risking lifetime imprisonment.


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Decaying Psilocybe aucklandiae

Decay and Rot - Food poisoning

Consuming wild foraged fungi that have begun to rot or decay carries significant risks of food poisoning or botulism. As mushrooms deteriorate, harmful bacteria can proliferate, leading to foodborne illnesses. Symptoms of food poisoning can range from mild gastrointestinal discomfort to more severe cases of vomiting, diarrhea, and dehydration. Botulism, a rare but serious illness caused by the toxin produced by Clostridium botulinum bacteria, can also be a concern when consuming spoiled mushrooms. Botulism can lead to muscle weakness, difficulty swallowing, respiratory issues, and in severe cases paralysis or even death. While you may get away with consuming decayed fungi after dehydrating them cracker-dry in most cases, the best way to reduce the risk of these illnesses is to only consume fresh, clean, healthy mushrooms and to avoid any specimens that show signs of rotting, mold, or decay. Proper identification, knowledge, and cautious harvesting practices are crucial when foraging for wild mushrooms to ensure your safety and well-being. Think about it like this: would you pick it off the shelf at the supermarket looking like that? Or would you bypass it for a better fruit?

Preservation to aid in avoidance of mold/botulinum toxin

The two most commonly seen ways to preserve psychoactive fungi both have inherent risks involved in their methods and if not performed correctly can result in severe illness, or even death in the case of botulism from poorly prepared honey preservation methods. Each year we are seeing more and more cases of people sharing images of their preserves that have gone bad and asking if it's ok to consume still. If there is any sort of mold beginning to grow on your dried mushrooms, DO NOT CONSUME THEM. If your honey preserve has changed colour or gone watery or begins to have bubbles, DO NOT CONSUME IT.


Consuming dried mushrooms that have grown mold can potentially lead to the ingestion of mycotoxins, which are toxic substances produced by certain types of molds. One particular concern is the presence of aflatoxins, which are carcinogenic and can cause liver damage. Ingesting these mycotoxins can result in symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, and liver failure/death in severe cases. To ensure safety, it is crucial to properly store and handle dried mushrooms to prevent mold growth. If you notice any signs of mold on your mushrooms, it is strongly recommended to discard them to avoid the risk of mycotoxin exposure. The safest method of preserving mushrooms is to dry them in a dehydrator at 60 degrees Celsius until cracker dry which can take up to 10 hours. Cracker-dry means that it can be crushed into dust between your fingertips, not just snapped crispy. If it is not cracker dry then it probably means that there is still some moisture content inside that could potentially allow mold to grow. Once cracker-dry, they then need to be stored with silica desiccant packets in an airtight container at room temperature away from sunlight to prevent any further moisture from being absorbed into the mushrooms which will allow mold to grow. Click the link below to see an example of what cracker dry looks and sounds like in a short video clip, so that you can be sure that you're not keeping an environment conducive to mold growth.. 



The other less frequently talked about preservation method, commonly known as "Blue Honey", is worth mentioning due to many people wanting to try and use this method of preservation for species that are thought to be higher in psilocin content, which degrades easier and at lower temps than psilocybin. For this reason, some people don't want to dehydrate these species and instead prefer to try and preserve them fresh in honey. This method is considered to be novel by many and not worth the effort for the potential losses in harvest or illness that can be involved, but it is also considered to be more of an art form for those willing to research the science behind what can turn a honey batch bad when adding high water content fruit to it for preservation. Due to the risks involved with contamination or botulism, it is not a method that is to be taken lightly unless you're prepared to put in a considerable amount of time and effort towards following a tek meticulously, for a result that could potentially still turn out bad. Preserving already dried and powdered mushrooms in honey is safe as you are not adding any water content to the honey. Continue reading below for the best-known methods of avoiding contamination and botulism when making Blue Honey if you are adamant that you are wanting to try and preserve the species that you have, fresh. 

Dried Psilocybe subaeruginosa and Manuka honey. Tips on preserving mushrooms in honey "Blue Honey" and also how to ensure that your fungi are "Cracker Dry"

Blue Honey as a Preservation Method

Preserving mushrooms in honey can be a tasty and unique way to enjoy their flavors and benefits, as well as a way of keeping fresh mushrooms as opposed to drying them but it has inherent risks and dangers involved with doing so, that could be fatal in it's worst-case scenario. It's crucial to follow safe practices to prevent the risk of botulism and contamination. Due to the risks involved, it is not recommended to store fresh mushrooms in honey, but because many people want to try and preserve certain species of fresh mushrooms in honey every year despite these risks being well-promoted, we've put together a guide that outlines some of the risks involved, as well as touching on some general practices that can help to lower the chance of these risks becoming an issue. This guide is the safest known method to preserve mushrooms in honey to try and avoid contamination and botulism. If it is something that you are adamant that you are going to attempt, please do so at your own risk and be aware of the full impact of these risks before attempting to make blue honey.

Click below to learn more about the dangers of botulism...

The Science Behind the Art

Making honey that doesn't go bad isn't so much an art as it is a science. Understanding the science can help you make better-informed choices when it comes to how you go about achieving the desired outcome. The method below isn't the best or only way to try to avoid contamination, but it is a way that has been tried and proven to limit contamination in a big way. Try to keep the following 3 factors in mind if deviating away from the method below them.

The 3 main factors to consider that could contribute to bacterial growth or contamination such as botulism when trying to preserve mushrooms in honey are: 

1. Hygiene and freshness of the fruit being preserved.

    The cleaner and fresher the specimens that you are trying to preserve are, the less likely you will

     be to be adding bacterial contamination. 

2. Not allowing water content to get too high in your preserve.

    Having high water content is what lessens the preservative qualities of the honey due to the

    sugars being diluted. Ideally, you don't want your mix to be over 50/50 fruit/honey ratio by weight.

    It needs to remain somewhat thick and not be too watery, and you won't know the consistency

    that the blend is going to be until a few days or weeks after the mushrooms have been added to

    the honey, as it takes time for the water content to reach equilibrium between the fruit that you

    are preserving and the honey that you are preserving it in. It will be too late to remove fruit if you

    have added too much, by the time you can see what consistency it will settle at, bacterial

    growth may have already begun if it is too watery. 

3. Keeping the fruit submerged and getting all air out of the gills of the fruit and keeping the honey

    mix air bubble free.

    This is important so that the fruit don't have contact with any air pockets to begin oxidizing,

    which starts decay in the fruit and promotes bacterial growth/contamination.

A known method that helps towards achieving the above outcomes is:

  1. Select Fresh and Clean Mushrooms: Choose fresh, high-quality mushrooms for preservation. Ensure they are free from any signs of decay, mould, or contamination. Clean them thoroughly to remove any dirt or debris. This can be done with a small artist's paintbrush as you don't want to be using water unless drying thoroughly, as you will then be adding more water content to the fruit which will end up in the honey.

  2. Prepare the Honey: Use good-quality, raw, creamed honey without any additives or preservatives. It is essential that the honey is fresh and has not crystallized. Runny honey or liquid honey isn't ideal as the honey is going to get runnier as you add more fruit to it due to the water content in the fruit bleeding out into the honey until the water content meets equilibrium between the fruit and the honey. Gently warm the honey in a double boiler or microwave until it becomes runny, but not hot. This helps prevent the growth of bacteria and mould.

  3. Sterilize the Jars: Clean and sterilize glass jars and lids by washing them in hot, soapy water and rinsing them thoroughly. You can also use boiling water or run them through a dishwasher cycle. Ensure they are completely dry before use.

  4. Prepare the Mushrooms: Carefully slice the cleaned mushrooms into small fingernail size pieces, this is to help with letting the water content bleed to equilibrium, but also to help with easier measuring of dosing because it will be in even uniform sizes to measure out, and also because the differences in potency between each fruit will be somewhat amalgamated into a more uniform and even dose. Place the cleaned, diced mushrooms in the sterilized jars to about 70% full, leaving headspace at the top. Fill the jars to the top with the warm honey, stirring gently when it is nearly full to agitate small air bubbles from the gills of the fruit, allow to rest overnight then stir again to further release small air bubbles the following day. Make sure the mushrooms are fully submerged to prevent air from contacting their surfaces. This helps inhibit the growth of bacteria and ensures better preservation. This can be achieved either by filling your jars to the brim, or the preferred method, by ensuring that your fruit remain submerged by using a thin metal gauze cut from a sieve and bent into shape so that it is pushed into the top of the jar beneath the surface level of the honey and left there until consumption then replaced again after a dose has been removed from the jar, this serves to hold the fruit down beneath the surface level of the honey at all times, helping to prevent oxidization and therefore rot, decay and bacterial growth.

  5. Store in a Cool, Dark Place: Seal the jars tightly and store them in a cool, dark place away from direct sunlight. A fridge is ideal for long-term storage but a pantry or cellar will do for short-term storage of a few weeks or less. The low temperature and lack of light help slow down the growth of bacteria and maintain the quality of the preserved mushrooms.

  6. Regularly Check for Contamination: It's important to periodically inspect the jars for any signs of spoilage, such as mould growth, bubbling, change in consistency, colour change, fermentation, a sickly sweet almost alcoholic scent, or any other off-odours. If you notice any changes or suspect contamination, discard the entire jar to prevent the risk of botulism.


By following these steps and practicing proper hygiene and food safety measures, you can preserve mushrooms in honey with a lot less risk than just placing them in and hoping for the best. Remember to always use caution and common sense when consuming preserved foods and consult a healthcare professional if you have any concerns.

The image below shows diced Psilocybe 'subsecotioides' in raw creamed manuka honey, in a good honey-to-fruit ratio for a nice thick consistency that isn't too watery. Note that you can see the stainless steel sieve gauze holding the fruit submerged beneath the surface of the honey. Also, note the lack of presence of air bubbles.

Psilocybe sp. 'subsecotioides' stored in raw bush honey with gauze to keep fruit submerged to avoid the growth of botulism. See Best methods for avoiding botulism in blue honey when preserving mushrooms.
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