So I was clearing up all the unpicked sweetcorn and imagine my surprise when I found some of this stuff! I didn't know we even had it in the country. (a quick google told me it's fairly common on fodder maize here)
I'm reading conflicting information on weather older smut is good to eat or if it needs to be still soft. But that's not my main interest what I want to know is can I let this mature and freeze the spores to deliberatly infect some corn next year? This infection almost certainly came from the acres of fodder maize upwind of me since my field hasn't ever had corn on it.
The harder it is, the less palatable it will be when cooked.
To keep some for inoculation next year, first dry it out then store in either a glass canning jar or freezer plastic zip bag.
Freezing it will kill most of the spores since it normally over winters in the soil where it is surrounded by insulating particles of soil.
Aztecs used to, & possibly still do, rub their machete's in the dirt & then make shallow cuts in the growing corn stalk to inoculate. Spores are likely present on & in the soil around plants with fruiting huitlacoche.
If it infects fodder corn it makes me want to breed it up to do some "guerrilla sporing" across the Midwest. Seems like justice to fight back against the drifting GMO genetics and "property theft" lawsuits to inoculate them with this gross looking Aztec delicacy.
It is also interesting to note that this may have been a fungal component to the famous 3 sisters guild.
Location: Cache Valley, zone 4b, Irrigated, 9" rain in badlands.
Huitlacoche is already widespread anywhere/everywhere that corn is grown. No worries about infecting the mega-fields. They are already infected, and therefore growing strains of corn that are essentially immune. I've done a fair amount of inoculation with huitlacoche spores, and I can never tell if my inoculations were effective or not. (As a plant breeder, I spent a lot of effort selecting against strains that are susceptible. As a fungi-foodie, I would want to select for strains of corn that are susceptible. )