How to Forage, Preserve, and Use Chaga Mushrooms

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Video where to find chaga mushroom

Tincturing is the use of alcohol to remove and ultimately preserve the medicinal compounds found in an herb or mushroom. Since chaga has both water- and alcohol-soluble compounds, a proper extraction will include both methods, called a “double extraction.” Adopted from Mushrooms for Health: Medicinal Secrets of Northeastern Fungi by Greg Marley.

Ingredients:

  • Dried chaga, chopped or ground as finely as possible
  • Grain alcohol (ethanol) or vodka (100 proof or higher)
  • Spring water or distilled water

Equipment:

  • Stainless steel or enameled cooking pot or a slow cooker (e.g. Crock pot)
  • Cheesecloth
  • Glass jars with clean, tight lids
  • Liquid measuring cup with clearly marked graduations
  • Chef’s thermometer with probe – optional

Step 1: Alcohol Extraction

Dried chaga should be crushed or otherwise reduced into the smallest pieces possible, using a hammer, mortar/pestle, or meat grinder. The resultant dry material should be placed in a glass jar and covered completely with alcohol, capped, and placed in a dark space away from direct sunlight. Shake or stir the material every few days, adding alcohol as needed to keep the chaga covered. After 2 to 4 weeks strain the mixture through several layers of cheesecloth and keep both the alcohol portion (tincture) and solid portion (marc).

Step 2: Hot-Water Decoction

Place the marc portion in a pot or slow cooker and cover with just enough water to submerge it. Cook uncovered for two or more hours at just below boiling, adding water as necessary while the mixture reduces. Cool and strain the resulting marc, keeping the liquid portion (decoction).

Step 3: Mixing the Finished Tincture

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Measure the volume of your liquid extracts (both the alcohol tincture and decoction). The final tincture product should be at least 25 percent alcohol for proper preservation, so knowing the proof used in the initial alcohol tincture prep is important. For example, if you used 100 proof vodka (which is 50 percent alcohol) and ended up with 12 ounces of tincture, half of that volume is pure alcohol (or 6 ounces). Therefore, the finished tincture in this instance would be 24 ounces; 6 ounces of alcohol, 6 ounces of water (from the initial alcohol tincture) and 12 ounces of decoction. Calculating the alcohol to water ratio needed for your final product is easiest if using pure liquor but can become confusing if using less concentrated alcohols. Keep the following equation in mind:

A + B + C = 4A

Where:

A = Volume of pure alcohol (Initial alcohol tincture volume X percent concentration of alcohol used)

B = Volume of water in initial alcohol tincture (Initial alcohol tincture volume – A)

C = Volume of decoction

4A = the maximum volume of the finished tincture resulting from the addition of the correct volume of decoction

As an example, if you began with 190 proof liquor resulting in 12 ounces of initial alcohol tincture volume, the mixture would be 95% alcohol, and your equation for determining the amount of decoction to add for the final product would be:

(12 x .95) + (12 – 11) + C = 4A, or

11 oz + 1 oz + C = 44 oz, solving for C gives us 32 oz.

Keep in mind when calculating the volume of total alcohol and have to round off the result, round down. In this instance the final amount of tincture is 44 oz, therefore requiring 32 oz of decoction be added to the 12 ounces of initial alcohol tincture volume, giving us the proper 75 percent water / 25 percent alcohol ratio.

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Combine the correct amounts of initial alcohol tincture and decoction. Stir or gently shake the mixture prior to dividing it up into smaller containers. Store in a dark space. Tinctures will last for several years if properly made and stored.

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Ethan Smith is a seasoned marine veteran, professional blogger, witty and edgy writer, and an avid hunter. He spent a great deal of his childhood years around the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest in Arizona. Watching active hunters practise their craft initiated him into the world of hunting and rubrics of outdoor life. He also honed his writing skills by sharing his outdoor experiences with fellow schoolmates through their high school’s magazine. Further along the way, the US Marine Corps got wind of his excellent combination of skills and sought to put them into good use by employing him as a combat correspondent. He now shares his income from this prestigious job with his wife and one kid. Read more >>