August Newsletter

Looking Glass Rock

Well friends and fellow mushroom people, the summer seems to be moving fast as we enter the last month of it. However that doesn’t mean the end of mushroom abundance! As the seasons change so do the different types of mushrooms that are growing. As every year is different in the mushroom world, this year has seen a blast of Reishi come on, a strange Chanterelle showing and lots of Milky and Bolete mushrooms as usual. Part of the fun of the hunt is never knowing what you’ll find, I’ve visited spots that were abundant every year that have been slightly barren this year and I have also found new spots that were flourishing. It’s always interesting to observe and record, to be caught off guard and to find just what your looking for at the exact time your looking for it. For example I had a memory pop up on my photo stream from a year ago of Lobster mushrooms, I went to the spot and sure enough there they were! This is a general, great rule, that when you find mushrooms like Chicken of the Wood or Chanterelles in a spot, remember that because the next year they will return to that very spot. I’ve been selling quite a bit of fresh picked wild mushrooms, especially Chanterelles, if you’d like some contact me by phone or email, I have a list of people to notify when I have fresh ones, if you’d like to be on that list let me know, plenty of time in the season still to add some wild mushrooms to your dinner!

***I deliver if local to Asheville area, also willing to meet in between if not too far***

I’ve had a great time leading walks this year so far and plan to continue through the fall as mushrooms like Honeys, Hen of the Wood and Lions Mane begin to grow. It’s worked out for those interested in doing a walk to contact me directly via email or by phone, that way I have been able to work with peoples schedules. I will be doing the tailgates as usual, however this month I will be at East Asheville on the 31st of July and then again the 14th and 28th of this month. I’m only doing one Weaverville market on the 19th. I hope to have some fresh Chanterelles and other kinds of wild mushrooms at those markets, as well as my usual medicinal tinctures and dried mushrooms for teas.

Here’s some gems you might find out there right now. All these are edible and tasty in my opinion. I have found the Leather backs are super good on the grill! I cut off the caps and grill those and saute the stems. The Bolete family of mushrooms is a generally safe family, with very few being toxic, however many are bitter tasting. Boletes have no gills instead they have a spongy under bottom and can sometimes change colors when bruised. Although there is edible Boletes that turn blue, I play it safe and stay away from those. Also red bottomed Boletes I stay away from. The Beef Steak is one of the only mushrooms you can eat raw in our woods and tastes great when marinated. The Lobster mushroom is a unique one and actually considered a parasitic mold. It often attaches itself to Russula mushrooms and completely devours it! Often found in piney areas. If you see a mound of pine needles, take a look underneath and you may find a surprise.

Russula (White stem/white gills)

The Corals are also a generally safe family with some exceptions of coarse. Always stay away from yellow corals for one, Corals over all are very hard to digest and the most sought after one is the Crown Tipped Coral, pictured above with tiny crowns on the tips.

Two very wonderful plants/flowers out there right now are these two. Ghost or Indian Pipe is a beautiful wild flower, often likened to the fungi family. It is a special one and should be treated as such both in harvesting practices and dose intake. Here’s a good article on it: https://wisdomoftheplantdevas.com/2019/10/04/ghost-pipe-a-hauntingly-rare-plant-for-physical-and-emotional-pain/

It has been used traditionally for pain relief, help getting to sleep and anxiety issues. The other plant here is one of my favorites to say and hear people repeat, Pipsissewa. This is an obvious Cherokee named plant. Pipsissewa is used in whole plant form, making a tea or tincture from it. It is used for Urinary issues, especially UTIs and bladder stones. It is also useful for anxiety and as an anticancer plant. It gets a pretty little flower as well.

The Queen Reishi

Being such an awesome year for Reishi mushroom I wanted to display this beauty! Found this recently growing solo, it’s a rare thing to find one like this with the distinct stem. It’s said the most medicinal concentration is in that stem. Reishi is said to slow the aging process among a long list of benefits, making it the mushroom of immortality. We’ve had some lovely rain storms this summer so far and recently, making it a wonderland of mushroom love in the forest, get out there, learn and find some wild foraged dinner! Contact me anytime for questions or orders: (828) 423-3875, I respond quicker to texts, or via email at blueridgechaga@gmail.com

July Newsletter

It’s summer and we have entered an exciting month on the mushroom front. These next few months are when the flood gates open. Many of the delicious, colorful and most variety of different mushrooms are popping out! It’s been rainy and the forest is moist, perfect conditions for the hunt. I get excited to do my walks during this time and all this month I will be leading them. It is also important that we spend time outside absorbing the fresh air and vitamin D of the sun during these times. You can sign up under the book now tab. Besides being out picking the wild stuff, I have dove into growing some fresh mushrooms for the markets, I’m currently growing Lions Mane and Gray Dove Oysters. I get my growing blocks from a friend in the mushroom world, his name is Matt and he runs Mayland Mushrooms out in Burnsville. His blocks are top notch and easy to do. I encourage anyone interested in doing it yourself at home to check out his blocks: http://maylandmushrooms.com/

With all the good mushrooms coming out I will have plenty to sell, picking the wild ones has always been a favorite past time for me. This month I will be collecting Chanterelles, Leather Back milk caps, Black Trumpets, Chicken Of The Wood, Beefsteak, Blue Indigo milk caps and some Bolete varieties. All mushrooms are $15 per pound and I sell half pounds as well. For many people mushroom picking is scary and it should be if you haven’t learned enough, or perhaps having the time is a challenge, so let me do it for you! Wild mushrooms make for a great addition to your dinner plate, they can be a way to get creative with your meals. I will have fresh picked mushrooms available at the tailgate markets as well as to order directly from me, if your interested in being on my notice list you can email me. I will send out notifications when I have new stuff straight from the forest. I do caution people to go easy at first, wild mushrooms are harder on our systems to digest, so small portions are a great place to start.

So what’s out there now? Well there’s a lot! The Chicken of the Wood is out and about, Chanterelles have begun to pin and pop, Leatherback Milk Caps, Boletes, Corals, Oysters, Boletes, Puffballs, Russalas and the very prized Chanterelle family, smooth, golden, cinnabar, Black Trumpets, and Appalachian. It’s always a great forage when you find a patch of chants. Really the better question is what’s not out! Above are some of the great edible varieties. I caution everyone not to go solely on pictures when picking on your own, there are many lookalikes out there and plenty of room for error, when in doubt toss it out. Many mushrooms can be turned into jerky very simply, the process is as easy as boiling the mushrooms for about 10 minutes, marinate in a nice sauce of your choosing for 5-6 hours, then dehydrate until mostly dry but still have a chewy consistency and there it is. I enjoy people sharing photos of the different meals they prepare with the mushrooms they buy from me or find on my walks. One of the latest was a friend who came on a walk and we found Cauliflower mushrooms. She made an awesome stir fry with them and shared this photo. I also like to make a nice soup with these ones. Hope to see some new faces out on a walk or at the market this month! Happy hunting ya’ll.

June Newsletter

It’s a new month and with it brings some exciting news. This month I will begin leading mushroom and plant ID walks! I will adding dates and times on my calendar for folks to sign up. The price is $30 a person and walks last about an hour and a half to 2 hours. I have had increased interest in private walks one on one or just a few people which is great and I’m always happy to do. If you’d like me to come to your property the cost is a bit higher at $50 an hour. At this time I plan to limit group sizes to 3-5 total for each walk. I have been out in the woods quite a bit and keeping a close eye on what’s growing and popping out. I have seen several varieties of mushrooms with Chicken of the Wood on my radar. I will be starting the second week of this month. Some dates are set and available if you click the Book Now button. ****If you don’t see a date for your availability, contact me at blueridgechaga@gmail.com and I can most likely make it happen! I am very flexible on times and days.****

This month is also the opening of the East Asheville Tailgate Market. It will begin Friday, June 5th and run from 3-6 pm in the same location as last year off Tunnel road. I will be vending this market as well as Weaverville on Wednesdays and Black Mountain on Saturdays. I will not be at every market but will announce when I will be at each one on social media each week. I always enjoy doing the local markets very much because of the chance to connect with new people and vendors in our community.

edible white edges

This spring has brought a wild abundance of Reishi, which is wonderful. Every season is different as we know times can change rapidly, so can mother nature and the natural world, last year was a decent Reishi year but this year is most abundant! Many people are unaware that the white edges can be eaten and are rather delicious! Reishi is one of the most powerfully medicinal mushrooms on the planet as well.

Some of the highlights of this month are exciting, top of the list is the COW, or Chicken Of The Woods. This one is easy to identify and a most sought after mushroom. Chickens taste best when found young, they get a bit tough as they fan out. You can make a variety of dishes with chickens that are truly delicious. Another great find is the Wood Ear mushroom. You can find this mushroom in many Asian dishes. This one is also an easy one to pick out in the woods. Also out in full force are polypore mushrooms. This is one of the safest families to forage and are often used in soup stocks. The most sought after one being Turkey Tail. Turkey Tail is identified by it’s colorful rings and white underside. Turkey Tail is a medicinal wonder and can used to make teas and tinctures. Polypores have no gills but rather teeth or pores underneath. They are some of the prettiest mushrooms you’ll see.

I can’t wait to get back to teaching and hope to see some new faces out on a walk in the woods with me. I’ve had a super successful spring forage so far, harvesting beautiful Reishi and Chaga. Finding the king and queen on the same hike is always a super highlight for me and recently I did just that. I’ve been busy cutting, smashing, drying, preparing teabags, tinctures and filling jars to bring to all those who seek out great health and immune boosting goodness. Hope to see ya’ll soon!!

Protecting against COVID-19 with Medicinal Mushrooms

As the Corona virus continues to be all around us, with little signs of going away anytime soon, it’s brought a lot of awareness along with it. The awareness I’m talking about is prevention, things we can do to help build up our systems to gain strength and protection against viruses and giving the body the tools to recover quicker. I have known about the benefits of medicinal mushrooms for ten years now. I have studied, researched and continue to learn all the time about the many properties and effects they have in our bodies. Ever since I began to learn, I began to drink the teas, take the tinctures and consume these different medicinal mushrooms on a daily basis. What I’ve seen and felt has helped my everyday life considerably. For instance, having arthritis in both my knees and being an avid hiker, I don’t experience the swelling in my knees I did previously. I haven’t been sick from the common cold in years and have never had the flu. I experience a calm and focused mind more often. My energy levels have increased. My allergies to pollen have gotten way better. I simply feel healthier, happier and a feeling of strength and ease knowing I’m adding such goodness to my body. I recently got an email from a customer in New Haven, Connecticut who was positive for the Corona virus. She previously bought a Chaga tincture at a tailgate market, also drinking the tea from Chaga she got from a friend. As she went through the shortness of breathe, fever, and coughing, she used all natural methods to get well again. The Chaga was a part of the mix she used, along with vitamin C, Zinc, Pau D’Arco and other herbs. She also practiced deep meditation and yoga during her recovery. This was great news to hear that she was recovering from the virus and that the Chaga was one of the tools she used.

There has been endless medical research throughout our history on all sorts of drugs, cures and treatments. The research on medicinal mushrooms seems quite behind and relatively new in our country. In places like Eastern Europe and Asia much more research has been done and the use of medicinal mushrooms like Chaga, Reishi, Maitake, Lions Mane and Turkey Tail is much more widespread and revered. All of these mushrooms are safe and highly beneficial, they are medicines we should have knowledge of and be implementing in our daily lives regardless of this virus, the fact that it is here and present has brought more people to realize they need to have a defense other than simply washing your hands or covering your mouth (which is super important all the same). Cautions of coarse should be taken when taking anything, interactions with medications is always a concern, though these mushrooms don’t contain any toxic properties, checking with your doctor or medical professional is strongly encouraged.

During these times we are in now it’s important and critical to be filling up our heads with good, useful information on ways to protect ourselves, to build strong immune systems and find healthier, more natural alternatives. This is a conversation that isn’t coming from the main stream media or officials! We need more information at the top levels of how important it is to build our immune systems with natural medicines during a time when such contagious viruses are popping up. There are many plants that grow in our region that are useful to boost immunity, strengthen our lungs and contain anti-viral properties, such as Usnea and Mullen for example. Taking Vitamin C and Osha root are both super helpful as well. Getting outside in the sunshine and walking, biking or hiking are everyday things we can do.

I believe and have seen research to support the idea that using medicinal mushrooms and herbs is more effective if they are taken straight from the forest, in other words wild crafted. I also believe in supporting your local economy, supporting local herbalists, wild crafters and small companies that provide such products. Mushrooms and plants thrive best in their natural environments, they contain more nutrients and beneficial properties than those being grown from kits or other methods. I enjoy the foraging aspect just as much as the reward of helping people. Being in connection with the natural world is a huge part of my everyday existence and gaining the knowledge I have over time of habitats, seasons, identification and uses has brought me even closer to the earth and a much healthier lifestyle. I’ve added a few interesting articles/links below to check out:

https://www.wisermindscompany.com/blogs/news/7-things-every-man-over-40-should-be-taking?fbclid=IwAR3TVlOYcssXICf37zkhAQ2CkZ5CVs8PNjdAsE_yXZRREmRAOSSzEc8s1oE

https://ergo-log.com/glucans-from-mushrooms-protect-against-virus-infections.html?fbclid=IwAR1urFzF0B-V_SW5PN_yWh4PdYtrCswsCaOhUUvwup9l5_xpPov1t8rr8F0