Disclaimer: it is always recommended that you only consume wild mushrooms that you can be certain are properly identified as safe
Modern science has shown chaga to be effective at preventing certain cancer related illnesses. I drink it as a tea with a bit of cream and honey because it’s delicious.
We are fortunate that the forests surrounding us are full of birch trees ripe with opportunities to harvest it.
You can suspect you’ve found chaga when you spot what looks like a blackened burl in a birch tree. It’ll take some effort to detach it from the tree; a small saw is a handy tool to have for this. Beneath the black surface it should be a beautiful and uniform shade of golden brown. Most times you can see the inner color without even removing the surface:
Chaga is pretty easy to prepare, enjoy, and store. A single decent mushroom is plenty to last a single person for several months. The first thing we do is dehydrate it to ensure it doesn’t mold. It’s best to cut it into small enough chunks that you can be sure several hours in a dehydrator will draw out as much moisture as possible.
Once the chaga is dry we store it in a mason jar with a loose lid.
To use chaga, we normally make large batches of tea in the crockpot. We throw in about a golf ball size amount (which is 4 or five small chunks) and leave it on low over two days (sometimes 3 if we are lazy).
We drink cups of it from the pot on days 2 and 3. Then we store the tea in growlers in the fridge and usually between our family consume it within the week.
Alternatively, a person can keep a single small piece of chaga in a pot with a strainer on hand on the stove. Each day, add water according to desired amount of tea and simmer at a gentle boil for an hour or so, strain and drink. This same chunk will continue to produce about a cup of tea per day for about a month.
There are beneficial compounds in chaga that they say are best extracted by making a tincture so we save boiled pieces of chaga and dehydrate them again. We shred them in a coffee bean grinder and then put the almost powderized chaga in a mason jar and cover it in 50 proof or better alcohol (we prefer rum). Let it soak for 90 days, giving a swirl daily, then strain into a new jar (tinted brown or blue jars are best). It’ll last a long time in the fridge this way.
Adding a dropper full of the tincture to a cup of tea makes a robust daily health maintenance drink. The tea has a very interesting rich and earthy flavour comparable to coffee (and I LOVE my coffee). Often I drink a half-coffee/half-chaga tea or have coffee in the morning and a chaga in the evening. The delicious taste of chaga makes it a worthwhile staple in our house. If you’re lucky enough to live far enough north you too can harvest it and enjoy it for free!
Happy Homesteading! Xx