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Storing Mushroom Spores: A Comprehensive Guide

Storing Mushroom Spores: A Comprehensive Guide for Long-Term Viability

One common question among mushroom cultivators is, “How can we store spores for long-term use?” Be it a spore print or a spore syringe, ensuring their viability even years after storage can seem like a daunting task. Fear not, though, as this comprehensive guide will navigate you through the best methods to store and organize your mushroom spores, effectively building your professional spore library.

The Basics of Storing Mushroom Spores

Understanding how to properly store your mushroom spores, whether in print or syringe form, is key to ensuring their long-term viability. This knowledge can be particularly useful when you have a surplus of spores or are planning for future cultivation projects.

Optimal Conditions for Spore Storage

The ideal method to store spores involves placing them in a Ziploc bag within a refrigerator. However, it is crucial to remember that the storage must be in a refrigerator, not a freezer, as freezing can destroy the spores. The optimal temperature range for storage lies above 32 degrees Fahrenheit but preferably below 50 degrees Fahrenheit. This temperature range ensures the spores remain viable, similar to their condition on the first day you received them.

Alternative Storage Methods

If for some reason you are unable to store your spores in a refrigerator, the next best alternative is a cool, dark place. Consider storing your spore prints or syringes in the bottom of a drawer, ensuring they aren’t exposed to direct sunlight, extreme temperatures, or moisture. While this method won’t guarantee the same longevity as refrigerated storage, it can keep your spores viable for a considerable period.

Importance of Correct Labeling

When storing your spores, it’s crucial to label them correctly. With time, it’s easy to forget the details about your spores, especially if you have a variety. Labeling saves you a great deal of trouble when you decide to use them, ensuring you know precisely what you’re cultivating.

In the next section, we will explore how you can take your spore storage to the next level by building a spore library.

Building a Spore Library: A Step Toward Professional Mycology

What is a Spore Library?

A spore library is a dedicated storage system for mushroom spores that are in print, syringe, or culture form. This system, typically a refrigerator or cooler, is used exclusively for preserving mushroom spores, agar dishes, and culture slants, ensuring optimal conditions for their long-term viability.

Benefits of a Dedicated Spore Library

Having a dedicated spore library offers several advantages over typical storage methods. First, it ensures temperature consistency, preventing the spores from getting too hot or cold, thereby extending their viability. Second, it allows for more efficient organization and easy retrieval of different types of spores. Lastly, a dedicated spore library minimizes the risk of cross-contamination from food and other substances, which can occur if you share your household refrigerator for spore storage.

Setting Up Your Spore Library

When setting up your spore library, select a cooler or a beverage refrigerator that doesn’t have a freezer compartment, as freezing temperatures can destroy the spores. The internal temperature of the library should ideally be around 40 degrees Fahrenheit. You can monitor this regularly by using an internal thermometer or placing a thermometer inside the library.

Organizing Your Spore Library

An organized spore library allows for easy access and identification of the stored spores. You can categorize your spores based on their species, substrains, and storage form (prints or syringes). Keeping separate containers or racks for different categories not only keeps your library tidy but also helps avoid any mix-ups or mislabeling.

In the next section, we will take a tour of a typical spore library to see how it’s organized and what types of spores it contains.

A Tour Inside a Spore Library

Taking a closer look inside a spore library can provide valuable insights into the methods and strategies of professional mycologists. This section will explore the various categories of spores stored and their specific storage techniques.

Storing Spore Prints

Spore prints are typically stored in separate containers within the spore library. They can be further divided based on the type of mushrooms they originate from – for instance, separating exotic mushroom prints from cubensis prints. Such a division allows for easy navigation and retrieval of specific spore prints when required.

Each print should be labeled correctly with the species or subspecies name, allowing for quick identification. Some examples of spore prints you may find in a library could include cubensis Elephant Gate, cubensis Gulf Coast, and cubensis Fiji, among others.

Storing Spore Syringes

Just like spore prints, spore syringes are also stored separately, usually in different racks or containers. Each syringe is labeled with the spore type, ensuring clarity and preventing any mix-ups. Some of the syringes found in a library might include Psilocybe gallindoi or Psilocybe mexicana.

Keeping a Track of Rare and Exotic Spores

Maintaining a record of rare and exotic spores is an integral part of any professional spore library. These spores are often hard to find, making them valuable assets to a mycologist. Examples of these could include Psilocybe azurescens and Psilocybe atlantis, among others.

A well-organized spore library can thus provide an extensive range of spores, from the most common to the rarest varieties, all under one roof. In the next section, we will discuss some do’s and don’ts when it comes to storing your spores for long-term use.

Do's and Don'ts of Long-Term Spore Storage

Do's of Spore Storage

  1. Control the Temperature: The optimal temperature range for storing your spore prints and syringes is above 32 degrees Fahrenheit (0 degrees Celsius) and below 50 degrees Fahrenheit (10 degrees Celsius). Keeping them within this range prevents them from freezing or getting too hot, both of which can harm the spores.

  2. Store in the Dark: Spores should be stored in a dark place. Light exposure, especially sunlight, can degrade spores over time.

  3. Keep Them Dry: It is crucial to keep spores dry during storage. Any moisture can promote the growth of mold or bacteria, which can damage the spores.

  4. Label Correctly: Always label your spores correctly and immediately after you get them. This helps you keep track of the different species and substrains in your collection and prevents any mix-ups in the future.

Don'ts of Spore Storage

  1. Never Freeze Your Spores: Freezing your spore prints or syringes can destroy them and make them nonviable. Always remember to store them in a refrigerator, not a freezer.

  2. Avoid Storing in Warm Places: Storing spores in warm places can accelerate their degradation. Always opt for a cool, dark, and dry place for storage.

  3. Don’t Forget to Check Regularly: Regular checks of your spore library are essential to ensure they are being stored under optimal conditions and to spot any potential problems early.

By following these guidelines, you can ensure the longevity and viability of your spores, whether you’re a hobbyist or professional mycologist. In the following section, we’ll delve into the concept of a spore library and how to set one up for yourself.


Storing mushroom spores for long-term use doesn’t have to be a complex process. By understanding the basic principles of spore viability and the importance of a controlled environment, you can preserve your spore collection for years. Proper labeling and organization are key to creating a comprehensive spore library, enabling you to quickly identify and utilize your spores when needed. With the right storage methods, you can significantly expand your mushroom cultivation possibilities and create a treasure trove of genetic diversity. Whether you’re a novice cultivator starting with your first spore print or an experienced mycologist with a vast collection, a well-maintained spore library is an invaluable resource in your mushroom cultivation journey. Remember, the longevity of your spores is in your hands. So, equip yourself with the knowledge, invest in the right storage setup, and watch your mycological endeavours thrive.

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