When you want to extract spores from morels, there are two popular methods most mushroom enthusiasts use: taking a spore print or soaking the caps. But, there are some people who use a spore syringe too. Whatever method you choose, ensure your mushrooms are absolutely fresh to guarantee the best results.
Is It Difficult to Extract Spores from Morel Mushrooms?
While it’s true that some mushrooms are difficult from which to extract spores, morels tend to be somewhat simpler. This is because morels have gills, which makes it easier to get the spores for your own growing purposes.
Can You Get Morel Spores from a Mushroom Kit?
It is possible to get morel spores from a mushroom kit. Actually, purchasing spawn from a commercial grower is the most popular way to extract morel spores. It’s easy to do and the manufacturer will provide instructions on how to do it.
How Do You Propagate Morel Spores with a Spore Print?
A popular propagation method that many mushroom enthusiasts swear by is obtaining a spore print. Not only will this help identify the mushroom properly, but you’ll be able to use them in producing your own morels. For this you will need the following:
- One piece of white paper
- One piece of black or dark paper
- A glass container (you should be able to turn it upside down to cover the mushrooms)
The Purpose for Two Pieces of Paper
Using two pieces of paper with differing colors will allow you to see the spores regardless of what color they are. This is invaluable to ensure you have the right kind of morel. Since it’s very easy to mistake morels for other mushrooms that are poisonous or generally inedible, you want to be 300% certain that what you have is a morel.
Place the Cap between the Papers
Remove the mushroom’s stem and upend it. Put the cap, spore side down and sandwich it between the white and dark pieces of paper. It’s best if you use chemical-free, biodegradable paper. Make sure ½ of the mushroom is on the white piece while the other ½ touches the dark piece. Cover the mushroom with a glass container to prevent drying.
Using the Spores to Create a Slurry
Leave this setup overnight. By the time you return to it the following day, the spores should drop from the cap onto the paper. Scrape the spores from the paper or put the pieces of paper into the into a glass container. Follow the instructions for creating a spore slurry below.
Do You Have to Plant the Spores Once Extracted onto Paper?
No, you don’t have to plant the morel spores if you’re not looking to become a morel farmer. Sometimes, the pattern and the way they appear on the paper are beautiful and interesting. You can spray a fixative for art (like for chalk or pastels) or use hairspray.
This makes for a great science project for kids at school or you can turn it into a decoration for your home. What’s more, if you have an artistic bent, you can include the paper in some sort of multimedia, scrapbook craft or other creative work of art.
How Do You Create a Slurry with Morel Mushroom Spores?
Some people have difficulty obtaining spores via the paper method while others like to just begin right away. To begin, you should have a mature specimen with the gills readily apparent. You want to make sure the spores are as fresh as possible, so foraged ones will be better than store-bought ones.
Use the Cap
Then, you want to make a slurry slush. For this, you can just use the cap. Remove the stem carefully and chop the morel into small pieces. Put the morel into a glass container, scraping the remnants from your cutting surface into the container.
Cover with Water, Molasses & Salt
Cover the mushrooms with just enough water purified, spring or filtered water. Then, add a ½ teaspoon of molasses and a pinch of salt. For larger amounts of mushrooms, put the mushrooms in a bucket and add two tablespoons of molasses and one tablespoon of salt.
Brew for Two Days
Allow this slurry to brew for about two days (48 hours) but you want to ensure oxygen can flow through and into the mushroom mixture. For larger amounts of mushrooms, an aquarium air stone gets the best spore germination.
How Do You Plant the Morel Mushroom Slurry?
Once your slurry is all gooey and ready to go, prepare another container of soil that contains decomposing manure or fertile compost. Carefully spread the slurry of spores over the prepared container and wait. Understand it may take quite some time for any mushrooms to appear.
Ensuring Proper Conditions
The length of time it takes will be contingent on the environmental conditions. Daytime temperatures shouldn’t exceed 70°F while nighttime temps should lower to about 40°F. The area has to be moist and shaded. Check the soil every day to ensure the growing medium maintains the texture of a wrung-out sponge.
Spreading Spores in Your Yard
Because morels are so finicky to grow, many people simply pour the slurry near the roots of dead trees in their yard. If you have a dying elm, apple, aspen or sycamore, it’s best to put it there. That said, it should provide the shade, temperature and moisture for the morels to grow.
Can You Extract Morel Spores Using a Spore Syringe?
Scientists use spore syringes to extract spores from mushrooms without gills or other types where the spores are difficult to extract. They also use them to drop spores and water onto slides for microscopic viewing. It’s also good for inoculating substrates with a certain spore. They’re sterile and easily found through mycological gardening supply stores.
Although this is a very precise method for extracting spores from a morel, it’s infinitely easier to use the paper extraction method. But, syringes do come in handy.