June News

Welcome to June everybody and the summer mushroom season kicking off! I’ve been blessed with two lovely Chicken of the Woods so far this year, which is a wonderful early gift from the forest. With some good rains we should see the mushrooms popping. I’ve noticed a few Russula, some Fawn and Wood Ear mushrooms. The Reishi mushrooms have been growing all over, look for pine and hemlock trees. For the last few years I have been trimming the white, soft edges and sautéing them with butter, oil, garlic and fresh herbs, they are quite nice.

Walks: I’m ready to get out there with you and do some walks, I will not be available the first week of the this month, so if your interested in booking a walk the first available date will be June 7th. You may have taken my card at a market or signed up for my newsletters or found out by word of mouth, in all cases to book a walk simply contact me at my email blueridgechaga@gmail.com or by phone (828)423-3875. I am available week days or weekends, mornings, afternoons or evenings. I can usually work with any schedule. If I plan to be out of town I try to make an announcement. Each walk is $40/person and lasts about an hour and a half. Some of you have expressed interest in me coming to your property. The cost for that is $50/hr. I don’t charge for travel but any donations are welcomed .

Markets: This is my schedule this month for markets.

East Asheville tailgate market @954 tunnel rd Groce United Methodist Church Friday 6/18 and 6/25 3-6pm

Yancey County tailgate market @6 south main street Burnsville, Nc Saturday 6/12 and 6/26 8:30am-12:30

King Street tailgate market @130 Poplar Grove Connector Boone, Nc Tuesday 6/15 4-7pm

Black Mountain tailgate market @130 Montreat rd Black Mountain, Nc Saturday 6/19 9am-12

Monthly Special: This months special is Buy One Get One Free Reishi double extracted 2oz tinctures, Tis the season for allergies and Reishi can help, another great mushroom to help fight allergies is Maitake. Here’s an article to browse over: https://www.thejoyofwellness.net/do-you-suffer-from-allergies-try-reishi-mushrooms/

I wanted to take a moment to highlight a special, rare find. Recently as I was wandering in the forest I came across a large object that looked like some sort of seed. As a naturally curious person I cracked it open and noticed the white interior, instantly I thought this to be a truffle but upon sharing the image with some other mushroom people I learned it was Wolfiporia extensa, also known as China Root. It’s an underground mushroom that grows near pines, lucky for me the ground where I found it was dug up, most likely by an animal, and it was simply laying exposed. It resembles a coconut shell to some degree. I sent it along to PA and amazing citizen scientist and mushroom master, William Padilla Brown. He cloned it in his lab and it worked! He had been searching for the North American version for seven years! Now I can’t wait to see how he uses it.

This mushroom is highly medicinal, it has been used for centuries in Asia  and possess a wide spectrum of pharmacological activities, including anti-viral, anti-tumor, anti-oxidant, free-radical scavenging, anti-rejection, anti-hyperglycemic, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and antihypertonic stress effects. This sclerotia has been documented at up to 80% immune modulating polysaccharides!! I’ve read the Natives used it as a food source as well as medicine. I was too excited to share this beauty. Find out more on Williams process here: https://www.instagram.com/p/COu0DUnsDGP/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link

Hope to see some new and old faces out at the markets or in the forest this month! Happy hunting in sunshine!!

pink lady slipper

Monthly Newsletter

NEWSLETTER June 2019:

Greetings all! I’m starting this newsletter to feature some of what is growing out in the forest this month and what you can expect to see on my walks. As a side note I do scout out several trails for each walk and try to pick the best one with the most mushrooms and plants that are out. However it’s no guarantee we will see all of what I feature but it’s always possible! So lets get to it; Spring is an exciting time but is one that requires patience for the mushrooms. Morel season is done for the year but this month is the beginning of some of the best mushrooms such as Chicken of the Wood, Wood Ear, Pheasant Back, Reishi, Oyster, Umbrella Polypores, Berkley Polypore, Birch Polypore and Turkey Tail. Some less popular ones are Fawns or Broad Gilled mushrooms. Also in the mushroom family is the beautiful Ghost Pipe.

As far as plants go it’s wide open. Fiddleheads are still around, ramps have about passed but still may be out there. Edibles such as Trout Lily, Violets, Dock, Dead Nettle, Chick Weed, Wild Ginger, Bear Corn, Day Lilies, Clover, Garlic Mustard, Plantain, Cressy greens and Nettles are some of the goodies. Medicinals such as Solomons Seal, Yarrow, Heal All, Squaw Vine, Trillium, Pipsissewa, Rattlesnake Plantain, and Blue and Black Cohosh are in full swing.

And that’s just some of what we might find! The forest always gives surprises.

This month I’m highlighting Wood Ears and Nettles:

Wood Ear mushrooms are tasty medicinal mushrooms. Recently a fellow vendor at the market told me these mushrooms are super popular in the Philippines. In that region they grow much larger than here.  They are rich in protein, iron, fiber, and vitamins B1 and B2. They are best sautéed or stir fried. They are members of the Jelly Mushroom family. Here’s a recipe for Wood Ear: https://www.hwcmagazine.com/recipe/how-to-prepare-wood-ear-mushrooms/

Stinging Nettle is also a tasty treat. This plant is big in our area, especially at Warren Wilson College where they have been known to make a delicious soup out of it. Nettles are best in younger leaf form. You need to get the stingers off first, here’s a recipe on how to prepare and cook them:  https://www.thespruceeats.com/sauteed-stinging-nettles-2217561  The stingers are actually great for joint pain, simply by taping the plant on the painful area, it can be itchy and sting but it works! I advise wearing gloves and using scissors when collecting them.

Enjoy! I will feature more Mushrooms and Plants next month.

Places to find me….

I work out of my home in Leicester, North Carolina where I do all my Chaga and other medicinal mushroom processing and packaging. All my products are handmade and foraged locally. You can find my products locally at Trust General market and in Hot Springs, Grateful Roots market and cafe in Leicester, Element Tree Essentials, The French Broad Co-Op, The Pot Stirred and Herbiary in downtown Asheville.

High Country Food Hub in Boone, NC, also Foraged, a wild crafted based online platform, Patchwork Alliance and AVL Box in Asheville, and Market Wagon in upstate SC, all these are online markets. If these are local to your area, I highly encourage you to check them out! They are convenient, some offer delivery and others a pick up location. There are many, many wonderful local producers on each site.

Besides those places you can find me at the East Asheville Tailgate Market from 3-6pm on Fridays, the Yancey County Market in Burnsville, vending there twice a month, that market runs from 8:30-12:30. Lester market runs on Wednesdays from 3:30-6:30 at the Leicester community center. Mars Hill on Saturdays 10-1, Enka/Candler at AB Tech in Candler on Thursdays 3-6, with other markets such as Trust General store in Trust, NC on Sundays, Black Mountain on Saturdays and many holiday markets. I participate in many markets not listed here that pop up throughout the year so keep an eye on my monthly newsletters!

I can be reached for an order anytime on my contact page or by phone, I ship anywhere, and can meet/deliver to people locally. I also offer mushroom and plant tours throughout western North Carolina, areas including: Asheville, Black Mountain, Old Fort, Burnsville and Brevard. I also do private house visits!

Making Tea

Now that you found and foraged or bought some mushrooms to make a tea, how do you it? Well there are a million ways to do anything right, over the years I have done a lot of research, watched a bunch of videos and found that recommendations for making teas from medicinal mushrooms varies quite a bit.

To start with let me give some advice on foraging wild mushrooms. Reishi for example molds very quickly, so drying them completely is essential. My chosen method is to place them on their back, cap down, in the sun. This way the mushroom absorbs additional vitamin D. However if time is an issue or cloudy weather, dehydrating works or opening your oven door, placing the mushrooms on the open door and putting your temperature on low is effective.

Reishi Tea: The best research I have found on making Reishi tea is to use 2 tablespoons of dried Reishi pieces per 1 quart of water. Simply add mushrooms to water and bring to a boil and then turn down so the tea simmers for 1 hour. The tea will be reduced pretty significantly. There you have it. Reishi tea has a strong, bitter taste. Some like this, for those that don’t might I suggest using lemon, ginger, honey or green tea as an additive. Use the same Reishi material twice before discarding!

Here’s a few recipes I found: https://purejoyplanet.com/recipes/medicinal-mushroom-tonic-tea/

Reishi Golden Milk Nightcap

Reishi Elderberry Tea

This wonderful tea is a staple during the Winter months. Most herbs can be found at local natural food stores, or online.

  • 2 cups water
  • 2 tbsp Reishi mushroom tea
  • 1 tbsp dried elderberries
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 tsp minced fresh ginger
  • 1 slice astragalus root (optional)
  • Honey to taste

Add all ingredients in small pot on the stove. Heat on medium-high until the tea reaches a slow, rolling boil. Turn the heat down to low and simmer for 10–20 minutes (the longer it goes, the stronger it gets). Turn off heat and strain. Add honey or sweetener for taste.

Turkey Tail Tea: For Turkey Tail tea the same ratios apply, so 2 tablespoons per 1 quart water. Add mushrooms to water and bring to boil, then lower to a simmer for a half an hour. Turkey Tail has a strong mushroom flavor so the same additives can be added. Turmeric can be a nice add in as well.

Recipes:

Turkey Tail and Turmeric Tea

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 cup chopped turkey tail mushroom
  • 5 cups purified water
  • 2.5 teaspoons ground turmeric
  • ½ teaspoon local honey
  • 1 drop lemon essential oil

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Chop the turkey tail mushroom into small pieces and add to a large pot of water on the stove.
  2. Bring the water to a boil, then simmer for an hour.
  3. Strain the mixture through a colander. Add a ½ teaspoon of fresh ground turmeric and the honey and stir.
  4. Add the lemon essential oil and stir again.
  5. That’s it — time to drink!

If you’d like to add additional flavor, almond milk, one drop of cinnamon, ginger or lemon essential oil, or stevia are good options.

Feel free to add the rest of your turmeric to your leftovers while it’s still warm since it’s easier to blend, and keep any leftovers in the refrigerator. You can then reheat or serve chilled or on ice. —- Dr. Axe

Chaga Tea: Making Chaga tea is a bit different. You could once again use the same measurements of 2 tablespoons per 2 qts of water. Bring water with Chaga added to a high simmer, 150 degrees if you have a thermometer, or small rolling bubbles if you don’t. Turn off burner and let sit 7 hours, I often make mine at night and it’s ready in the morning. It’s important to not boil the Chaga for the first two batches, as it lessens the medicinal qualities. On the third batch bring it a hard boil to extract anything left in the Chaga. Chaga chunks or powder can be used three times before discarding! Chaga tastes good by itself and is neutral in flavor, it can be earthy at times. I like to add fresh ginger, turmeric or licorice roots and a touch of honey.

Recipes on the web: https://www.jesselanewellness.com/recipes/chaga-mushroom-tea-recipes/

Chaga Lemonade:

  • 3 cups cold chaga tea
  • 2 fresh squeezed lemons
  • 2 tablespoons honey/maple syrup
  • fresh berries
  • 1 tablespoon lavender
  • 1 tablespoon fresh mint

Mix together in a pitcher, chill and serve

Reishi- Ganoderma Tsugae

Reishi mushroom is considered the queen of medicinal herbs, and is often known as the mushroom of immortality. It’s history is long and extensive, especially in Chinese medicine. Reishi is undoubtedly one of the prettiest mushrooms I have seen. In our region it grows abundantly, mostly on Hemlock and Pine trees. It grows from spring to winter. It’s hard to mistake this mushroom for any other. When young the white and yellow outside bands are edible and can be quite tasty. The whole mushroom is highly medicinal. In a lot of research it is said the stems contain the most concentrated values, but no doubt the whole mushroom is packed with medicinal goodness.

Reishi has been used for centuries in medicine making . One of my favorite facts about it’s history is that monks have consumed it to deepen meditation practices. Reishi has a powerful calming effect on both mind and body. It is regarded as an ‘herb of spiritual potency’. In Chinese folklore it was believed to bring people back from the dead and traditionally was given from a woman to a man to show interest.

Reishi health benefits:

Protects against:

  • inflammation
  • fatigue (including chronic fatigue syndrome)
  • frequent infections (urinary tract, bronchitis, respiratory infections, etc.)
  • liver disease
  • food allergies and asthma
  • digestive problems, stomach ulcers and leaky gut syndrome
  • tumor growth and cancer
  • skin disorders
  • autoimmune disorders
  • diabetes
  • viruses, including the flu, HIV/AIDS or hepatitis
  • heart disease, hypertension, high blood presure and high cholesterol
  • sleep disorders and insomnia
  • anxiety and depression
  • kidney disease

Overall Reishi promotes great health and longevity while reducing the risk of life shortening conditions. There is infinite research published about this powerful mushroom. Reishi feeds the three treasures- Jing, Chi and Shen- mind , body and spirit!

Lions Mane – Hericium Erinaceus

Lions Mane has quickly become one of my favorite mushrooms. I find it a beautiful sight, finding one in nature is an exciting event. Loads of research is coming to light on the power of this beauty. It’s taste is similar to crab meat. Lions Mane is mostly found on decaying trees. It has shown wonderful brain enhancing properties, especially in the fight against Alzheimer’s and Dementia diseases. It is considered a toothed fungus. It is very popular in Chinese and Japanese medicine. Throughout history it was reserved for royalty and it is revered by a sect of Buddhist monks that wear garments known as suzukake, that resemble Lions Mane mushroom.

Health Benefits:

  • Helps relieve symptoms of depression and anxiety
  • Speeds up recovery of nervous system injuries
  • Regenerates brain cells
  • Protects against ulcers in digestive tract
  • Reduces heart disease risks
  • Helps manage diabetes symptoms
  • Fights against cancer
  • Improves focus and memory
  • Reduces inflammation and oxidative stress
  • Boosts Immune system
  • Helps heal skin wounds

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/323400#potential-benefits

https://skillet.lifehacker.com/how-to-choose-store-and-eat-lions-mane-mushrooms-1845358782

Lions Mane can resemble a mushroom known as Bears Head Tooth. Also known to have medicinal properties and is a very good edible wild mushroom.

Turkey Tail – Trametes Versicolor

Turkey Tail, also known in Japan as Cloud Mushroom, is a very common yet extra special little mushroom. If you hike any amount in our region or the Northern hemisphere for that matter, you are sure to run across these guys. Another beautiful looking mushroom that comes in all sorts of lovely colors, blues, browns, purples, grays and greens. It is always striped and it’s distinguishing factor is it’s all white bottom. There are several similar look alikes, none are bad or poisonous, they just don’t have the medicinal punch that Turkey Tail does. You can find these on downed branches or rotting trunks, they also will grow on healthy trees. Turkey Tail has been recognized by the FDA for it’s studies around cancer and chemotherapy. It is widely used by patients to rebuild immune systems weakened by chemo treatments. I believe it is one of the most noticed but over looked mushroom in the forest.

Alittle history of Turkey Tail, it has been used in Japan and many Asian cultures since the 15th century. The oldest discovered mummy, dating back 4,000 years, had Turkey Tail in his medicine kit! It’s believed he used it for it’s antibiotic and natural parasite killing qualities. Turkey Tail is revered in Aztec rituals and the Egyptians gave it pharaohs and kings.

Health benefits:

  • Prevents and treats the common cold and flu
  • Can support chemo patients
  • May combat breast cancer
  • Helps treat HPV
  • Aids digestion
  • May help HIV/AIDS patients
  • Boosts immune system
  • Packed with anti-oxidants
  • May improve insulin resistance
  • combats fatigue
  • good for canine issues

False Turkey Tail:

Maitake-Grifola frondosa Hen Of the Woods, Sheeps Head

This mushroom was coined by the Japanese as the Dancing Mushroom, because when someone found one they would dance with joy knowing they will be in good health. Maitake is one of my personal favorite edibles for flavor. Hens grow in the fall, usually the end of September and into October. They most always grow at the base of Oak trees and there is usually more than one cluster, so check all sides! The health benefits of Hens are numerous:

*Immune system regulator

*Helps weight loss

*Cancer fighter- Reduces cancerous cell production and tumor growth, especially in breast cancer.

*Full of Vitamins B, C and D as well as Anti-Oxidants, Beta D Glucans and Potassium.

*Lowers Cholesterol levels and fights Diabetes

*Helps treat the side effects of Chemo

*Fights against flu and cold viruses

Maitake is a great additive to your medicine cabinet, especially in winter months when boosting your immune system is important in fighting off colds. It also shows great promise in our fight against cancer. Here’s a few helpful links:

https://www.healthline.com/health/food-nutrition/maitake-mushroom

https://www.mskcc.org/cancer-care/integrative-medicine/herbs/maitake

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