One of our course participants writes about their experience...
Hello there! I’m Susie and I went on the Fungi Folks very first medicinal mushroom course. Here’s what happened…
We arrived on the farm and entered a barn where the rest of the group were waiting and having a wee look around. It’s a working space so there were plenty of interesting bits of machinery and tools to see. Ben, who was leading the course, welcomed us with some cordyceps and ginger tea. It was delicious – not too medicinal in flavour, which suits me 😉
The course started with a short tour around the barn. We saw where the mushrooms grow, which is all rather technical! The cordyceps grow in trays surrounded by bags for humidity, layered high on many shelves and it all looks quite high tech! And we got to see an actual lab room where the grain and/or sawdust (used as substrate, if memory serves) gets inoculated with fungi in liquid form.
Then the group sat around a table as Ben from the Fungi Folks introduced us to the rest of the course, explained what we’d be doing to make a tincture and got into some rather interesting facts about mushrooms and their history of traditional and scientific use. A lot of the information was very technical – I took notes, but we also had a handout with key info. People asked a lot of questions throughout and Ben was incredibly knowledgeable and generous with his responses.
Onto the making! A two step process was needed to make the tincture that is the core element of the course: a water element and an alcohol element. We started by breaking up pieces of birch polypore into smaller bits because this is better to get the good stuff out. Birch polypore is an amazing mushroom. Sometimes known as white chaga, Ben mentioned, as it has similar benefits to chaga but is more sustainable to forage. The polypore then had to boil in (appropriately measured and estimated for evaporation) water for a period of time while we went out on a foraging walk.
The farm is in South Wales, near Chepstow and there’s some beautiful countryside to be seen! We walked down a field and past a lovely little creek and learnt about three different medicinal mushrooms that grow in the UK along the way. Quite interesting to see the mushroom we had just been chopping up growing on a tree in the woods.
Returning to the barn, we had to check on the water mixture (known as a decoction, as we learnt). We all had a go at pouring and squeezing to get as much as possible out of the decoction – it was hands on and fun. It was then ready to be mixed with the birch polypore alcohol extraction (this luckily had been prepped for us as it takes about a month to steep properly and get out all the good stuff).
There was also a bit of Q&A while we finished filling the bottles and as lots of fungi enthusiasts were present we went through many more interesting questions. It really was a fascinating and jolly old time and of course. And we each left with our own tincture! ~~~