Friday, 18 November 2011

Gathering the mushrooms and making the tincture

Amanita muscaria is found mostly in woods, from late summer to late autumn. Mostly around birch trees, they can also be found around oak and pine. They stand out a mile, bright red, usually with white spots, unless they've been washed off by the rain.

There are real dangers if you take the wrong mushroom, so if you're not 100% sure, don't do it. Your life or liver might depend on it.

These photos are of some mushrooms I found on the common yesterday.

I've just been taking the mature ones (when they've flattened out), and returning for the immature ones a few days later, by which time they've matured. There's a frill halfway up the stem. Cut them off there, then you can air dry them without crushing the gills.

To say thankyou I propagate the spore to create new colonies:

  • Put caps or bits of caps that aren't good enough for medicinal purposes (if they've started to go off) into a container.
  • Add water and mix or shake well.
  • Pour over the roots of a birch, oak or pine tree that doesn't already have a colony.

Wrap your harvest individually in cloth. Newspaper will do, but bits of paper will probably get stuck on the mushroom.

I'm still experimenting with what to do next, but here's what I'm currently doing.

  • Air dry the mushrooms for a couple of days, preferably somewhere sunny, warm and drafty.
  • Clean any dirt off the mushroom once it has dried. Don't wash the mushroom. Clean the dirt off with a soft brush or your fingers. It doesn't matter if some bits are left.
  • Cut into pieces around a centimetre or half-inch square.
  • Put into a jar and cover with spirit that is 32-40% proof. Stop pouring when the mushrooms start to float. Within a little while the mushroom pieces will start to shrink and the spirit will take on a pink or red hue.
  • Put in a warm and sunny spot for 2-3 weeks.
  • Strain the liquid off. Don't force anything through the muslin or whatever.

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