How To Pick, Dry, & Prepare Liberty Cap Mushrooms
Liberty Cap mushrooms are some of nature’s finest specimens. If you’re lucky enough to find a lot, you’ll need to know how to dry, store, and prepare them. Good luck growing them, but finding them might be easier than you think — if you know what to look for.
Psilocybe semilanceata, known commonly as the Liberty Cap mushroom, is a potent species of psilocybin-containing fungi that can be found growing in grassland. This species is extremely difficult to cultivate at home, and so far, no one has successfully grown it with consistent results.
The only way this species can be obtained is by putting in the leg work and finding areas where they grow naturally in the wild and then correctly storing them.
In this article, I’ll show you how to find, pick, dry, and prepare Liberty Cap mushrooms so you can enjoy the fruits all year.
How to Dry Liberty Caps for Storage
Once you’ve picked your shrooms, you may not want to eat them immediately. You’ll need to preserve some for future use.
Drying Liberty Caps is the best way to preserve them so they can be consumed later. Dried shrooms will last a long time as long as the container they’re stored in remains moisture-free.
Even the largest Liberty Cap mushrooms are small, especially when compared to Psilocybe cubensis shrooms. This makes them extremely easy to dry. The thin stems and small caps hold very little moisture, and they can be dried efficiently, even without using a dehydrator.
To dry these shrooms, you’ll need a dehydrator or a clean piece of paper, a baking sheet to put it on, and a dark place with good air circulation.
You’ll want to clean the mushrooms first. Don’t wash them with water; this could encourage mold growth and lengthen the drying process. Instead, use a small dry artist’s paintbrush to brush off any dirt, debris, or small bugs from the mushrooms.
Once the shrooms have been cleaned, they can be laid out on the dehydrator trays or on top of the piece of paper. Make sure there’s plenty of room between them — none of the mushrooms should be touching.
If you’re using a dehydrator, have it on the lowest temperature and check the mushrooms often. Flip them over once they start to shrink. They’re done once they crunch easily.
If you’re using the paper and baking sheet, set it carefully in the designated area. After the first five or six hours, you’ll already notice them start to shrink and lose moisture. At this point, it’s a good idea to turn them all over — this will prevent the mushrooms from sticking to your paper as they dry.
Now you can leave them for another day or two to completely dry out. These shrooms don’t take long to dry, but the longer you leave them to spread out in the open, the less chance you have of jarring them with moisture left inside. The whole drying process should be completed within 48 hours.
You’ll know that the Liberty Caps are dry when the stems snap easily without bending. The caps will also crunch when pinched between your fingers.
And that’s it. It is as simple as leaving the shrooms you’ve collected on a piece of paper for a day or two.
So, what do you do with these caps now they’re dry?
Storing Liberty Cap Mushrooms Long-Term
Once you’ve dried out the Liberty Caps, they can be stored for future use.
Like the drying process, this isn’t complicated. It’s best to store your dried shrooms in a jar of some sort. Any jar will do, but a “kilner-style” jar with a rubber seal and metal latch will ensure the shrooms stay free of moisture throughout storage.
To ensure that the shrooms last as long as possible, you want to make certain that no moisture enters the jar or sweats out from within the mushrooms. If you’ve dried them properly, this shouldn’t be an issue. However, there’s one thing you can do for peace of mind.
A small pouch or two of food-safe silica gel (like those things you find in shoe boxes) will ensure the environment your shrooms are stored in stays moisture-free. Silica gel is a desiccant and absorbs moisture from the atmosphere it’s surrounded in, helping your dried mushrooms last longer.
Keep your jar of dried mushrooms out of direct sunlight and in a cool dark place. This will help prevent the deterioration of the psilocybin inside the shrooms.
Preparing Dried Liberty Caps for Consumption
You’ve found a mother-load of juicy Liberty Caps, dried them out, and jarred them for storage. So, what do you do when it comes time to consume some?
There are a few ways you can consume dried Liberty Caps. Any of these methods end in the same result, but some induce effects faster, and others help prolong effects.
Here are five ways to use your dried Liberty Caps when you decide it’s time to consume a dose:
1. Eat Them Whole
This one is pretty obvious — just eat them as they are. They taste like the field you picked them from and feel like a mouth full of grass, but they aren’t gourmet mushrooms, and you’re not eating them for flavor.
Simply putting a dose of the whole dried mushrooms in your mouth, chewing them up, and swallowing them with water will do the job. You’ll likely start to feel the effects begin after 20 to 40 minutes after consuming them this way.
2. Make Mushroom Powder
If you’ve picked quite a lot of mushrooms, making mushroom powder can be a good use of your time. Dashing the shrooms through a blender for a few seconds can create a fine powder that can be used to season foods or drinks — a spice for the mind rather than the palette.
It’s important to note that if you use the powder in food, don’t actually cook with it — rather, season the food after so as not to destroy the psilocybin with heat.
3. Make “Liberty Capsules”
This one goes hand-in-hand with the last tip. Once you’ve created a mushroom powder, you can put doses into empty pill capsules. By weighing out the powder, you can create relatively accurate microdoses that are completely tasteless and convenient to consume.
You can also fill the capsules to the brim if you want to use them to trip with. Due to the potency of this shroom, you’ll definitely feel something after ingesting one or two packed capsules. This is a great option for those of you that can’t stomach the taste of magic mushrooms.
4. Brew Mushroom Tea
Finally, one of the greatest ways to use dried Liberty Caps is to brew mushroom tea. You can do this with powder, but it can be hard to strain the solids out this way. Chop up the whole dried shrooms roughly with scissors or blend them in bursts to increase the surface area and ensure the pieces are big enough to be strained effectively.
To make shroom tea, you’ll need to boil a pan of water or fill a cup with just-boiled water. Leave the water without the mushrooms inside to cool down a bit first. Once the pan or cup of water has cooled to roughly 150-175℉ (65-80℃ ), you can add your shrooms and give it a stir.
Put a lid on the pan or use foil to seal the top of the mug to keep the heat in. A thermal flask also works if you want to leave the tea to brew for longer or prefer to drink the tea hot rather than lukewarm.
Leave the shrooms in the water for at least 20 minutes to allow time for their psychedelic juices to ooze out into the brew. Ideally, you’ll leave it to brew for around an hour — this way, you can be certain that 99% of the psilocybin has transferred to the water.
Once you’ve brewed the tea, strain off the mushrooms and drink the remaining liquid. It doesn’t taste pleasant, but it’s a great way to consume this shroom. Effects can be noted in as little as five to ten minutes after drinking the tea, and strong effects can be felt in less than 30 minutes.
Check out our guide on the best way to make magic mushroom tea if you want to learn more.
How To Find Liberty Cap Mushrooms
Liberty Cap mushrooms (Psilocybe semilanceata) can be challenging to find at first, but once you’ve found a suitable habitat, it’s only a matter of time before you start to see hundreds of them.
Liberty Cap mushrooms can be found in the autumn season. Anytime between August and November are good times to look, with September and October usually proving most fruitful.
They grow in grassland, so pastures grazed by horses, cows, sheep, or other livestock can be great places to look. Ideally, look for a pasture that’s out of rotation (without grazing animals currently feeding). You’ll be more likely to find the tiny shrooms without big animals roaming around grazing on them and trampling them with their hoofs.
Look around tufts of longer grass. You’ll often find them growing on the edges of areas of longer grass and inside the tufts themselves. Once you see one, move the grass away with your hands to look around underneath — you’ll often find more.
The best time to head out is a couple of days after rainfall. Psilocybe semilanceata does like a damp environment, but it’s not a big fan of rain. Liberty Caps don’t tend to sprout up directly after rainfall, and they certainly don’t like boggy ground.
The ideal conditions are two to three days after substantial rainfall — even better if there has been a good bit of sunshine after the rain.
This species can be found growing in small groups. If you spot one, you’ll often find it growing in a cluster of five or more. Colonies are never far apart, so if you find a group, crouch there for a minute and scan the area around you.
In terms of the weather, Liberty Caps begin to fruit when there’s a drop in temperature — this is why they can be found in the autumn months. However, they’ll die off when the first frosts start coming. It’s almost always useless heading out the morning after a heavy frost; they shrivel up and become unnoticeable very quickly.
Also see: Where Do Shrooms Grow? How to Find Magic Mushrooms In the Wild
Psilocybe semilanceata Identification Guide
Once you discover your first Liberty Cap, you won’t be able to unsee it. When you observe its characteristic traits, such as its small pale cap, distinct nipple, and long, thin, wavy stem, you won’t mistake any other mushroom for it. However, several mushrooms can look similar to the untrained eye.
It’s always worth buying a mushroom identification guide to have in the field and/or sticking with someone who has experience picking this shroom first rather than going at the task blind.
Liberty Cap mushrooms can look vastly different from one another. Some may have rounded caps, some more cone-shaped, and others may be long and slender. However, the characteristic nipple and dark gills give its identity away.
These shrooms can also change color when they’re wet. A drier cap is a creamy white color, and a wet cap can take on a brown, shiny look. You can see this quite clearly in the photo above.
Liberty Cap mushrooms can be identified by the small distinct nipple on the top of the cap. They have creamy white caps that are conical with striated (long vertical lines) markings going up the cap. They often have a darker ring around the cap’s base and dark brown gills.
They have thin stems that fracture easily, and the cap can be cleanly removed from the stem with very little effort. The stem is light in color and often gets darker toward the base. The stems are thin, often wavy, and grow to a maximum length of around eight centimeters.
Newly-formed mushrooms and wet caps are sticky and will easily stick to your fingertips. When picked, a bluish coloration will often appear on the stems after five or ten minutes — indicating that psilocybin is present.
If you’re still unsure of the identity of what you’ve collected, a spore print can be performed. This will show up as dark purple-brown.
Suggested Reading: Magic Mushroom Strain Guide
Mushroom Picking Etiquette
There’s a certain “mushroom picking etiquette” you should be following if you decide to collect Psilocybe semilanceata. A few simple practices will ensure that the Liberty Cap spot you worked so hard to find stays fruitful for future generations of mushroom pickers.
By making sure these powerful little shrooms carry on thriving, you also help your future harvests become more plentiful. It’s all about respecting the land and the mushroom and being responsible regarding how you pick and how many fruits you collect.
There are three main things that you should do when picking Liberty Caps, and many other field mushrooms for that matter.
1. Flick the Caps
Get into the habit of flicking the cap of each mushroom you pick. Doing this will encourage the shroom to drop a few of its spores. The spores are essentially the seeds of the mushroom.
If you take all the “seeds” with you, how can you expect the shrooms to grow in future seasons?
Simply giving the caps a quick flick before you pluck them will ensure that you and generations after you have plenty of shrooms to pick in future years. Doing this may also dislodge any small insects hiding in the gills — making this a bonus for you and the humble shrooms.
2. Don’t Pick Little Shrooms
It can be exciting when you find your first group of Psilocybe semilanceata. It’s pretty easy to pick the whole colony and walk away happy. However, you should think of the shrooms first.
Pick the more mature mushrooms. There’s also no problem in picking some of the smaller ones, but leave “pins” (small shrooms) and one or two slightly larger little shrooms. This ensures that a mushroom or two will reach full maturity and sporulate. It will also benefit you.
If you only pick the larger Liberty Caps, the smaller ones can be left to mature. This allows you to come back a day or two later when they’ve grown in size. You can then harvest them when they’re larger and contain more psilocybin.
By doing this, you can often collect shrooms from a single colony time and time again throughout the season. It also allows the young shrooms time to mature and drop spores, ensuring they come back the year after and continue to spread.
3. Don’t Pick the Whole Field
It’s important to leave a few big ones as well — don’t go picking the whole field. You should leave nature to do what it does best and allow some shrooms to sporulate and die naturally. This will secure the Liberty Cap’s population for future generations.
Summary: Drying, Storing, & Preparing Liberty Cap Shrooms
Liberty Cap mushrooms are one of nature’s finest treats. This shroom may be small, but what it lacks in size, it definitely makes up with potency.
The small stature of Psilocybe semilanceata can make it extremely difficult to find, especially in the long grass. However, once you find a good mushroom habitat, your eyes will tune in, and you’ll easily spot them from far distances.
Autumn is the best season to find these mushrooms, and since they can’t be cultivated, this is your only window if you want to experiment with the shroom. Remember to practice “mushroom picking etiquette” when you’re picking to protect the species and the habitat in which it grows.
If you do pick a good amount, you’ll want to dry them — this is easy due to their small size. These shrooms keep well in this state for over a year but will gradually lose potency over time. Dried shrooms can be eaten whole or prepared in the ways mentioned above.
All around, the Liberty Cap is a fantastic shroom that can only be collected from nature. You’ll be greatly rewarded if you’re willing to take up the foraging challenge.