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A mushroom growing kit has many components—substrates, incubators, harvesting knives—but you’ll need to choose which spores you want to grow before you start. How do you extract spores from mushrooms? Existing mushrooms can give you what you need to begin the growing process.

Choose Your Species

What kind of mushroom do you want to grow? You can harvest spores from mushrooms you purchased at the store, from small button mushrooms to large portobellos. Make sure you know exactly what species of mushroom you’re working with. A specimen you found in your backyard may be of unknown origin and could be inedible. Choose a specimen that’s grown to full maturity.

Make a Spore Print

This step feels a little like a craft project. To start, you’ll need a piece of white paper, a piece of black paper, and a glass bowl or container.

Place the white and black papers side by side. This step will ensure you collect all the spores you can. Some are light in color, and others are darker; you’ll be able to see the spores better with the additional contrast.

Snip off the stem of your mushroom with a clean, sharp harvesting knife. Add a drop or two of water to the mushroom cap before placing it, gill side down, on the paper (one half on white, the other half on black). Cover the cap with the glass bowl or container to keep extra airflow from disturbing the process.

Let it sit for 24 hours to allow the spores to do their work. When your waiting period is up, carefully remove the glass container and lift up the mushroom cap. You’ll see the print it made on those papers—that print is made up of your precious spores!

Collection and Storage

To keep your spores safe, carefully store your spore print in a plastic bag. Next time you want to inoculate your substrate, you can scrape them gently off the paper and introduce them to a spore syringe.

Spore syringes are among the many mushroom cultivation supplies offered at Midwest Grow Kits, and they are the ideal way to keep spores safe and ready for use. Carefully introduce the spores from your print to 10 mL of lukewarm, sterilized water. Pull that liquid up into the syringe. (Doing this inside a sealed bag will help prevent contamination from the air.)

Spore syringes can be stored in your fridge for up to six months. Keep them safe in a sealed bag.

Getting started with your own mushroom growing adventure takes a few extra steps, but they’re worth it in the end. Midwest Grow Kits provides the best supplies to help you extract spores from mushrooms and get them ready for inoculation.

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