Is It Safe To Forage Frozen Mushrooms?

Greetings!

A wintry cold snap, even during the weeks of mid-autumn, can mean different things to different people.

To mushroom hunters, a cold snap any time of the year equates to one or more of the following:

—No mushrooms (Too cold to even bother checking.)
—Fewer mushrooms (Most of which are inedible.)
—Frozen mushrooms (Some of which are choice edible species.)

All three selections are valid, though it is the last option that I’d like to address in this email and in the following video.

You see, quite a few edible mushrooms survive and reproduce in cold temperatures.  It is therefore not uncommon to find edible fungi frozen solid to their substrates.

Recently, I’ve received numerous questions regarding the practice of foraging frozen mushrooms.

Is it safe to do so?  What if the mushroom has been on a tree for weeks?  Does the freeze/thaw cycle alter its texture?

These are all great questions that I address in the following video.  Additional topics discussed in the video include the ability of fungi to produce anti-freeze agents, the destructive effects of freezing on a cellular level, and lots more!

You can check out the brand new video here.

Also, I was recently invited to speak on the topic of mushrooms and gut health with Peggy Schirmer from Gut Feelings.

Fungi, as it turns out, aren’t just residents of forests, fields, parks, and lawns.  They also reside on and inside each and every one of us.

In this interview, we discuss — among many things — the gut mycobiome.  You can check out the interview here.

Thanks for reading and watching, and as always, thank you for your support!

-Adam Haritan

Wild & Slimy Edible Mushrooms (That Are Surprisingly Tasty!)

As the year draws to a close, the fungal kingdom participates in a kind of grand finale that is best experienced within a conifer forest.

Under dense canopies of pines, troops of ochre-colored mushrooms push their way through the soil.  These particular fungi characteristically wear slimy coats adorned with seasonal debris including pine needles, unlucky insects, and additional forest offerings.

Such a performance is not to be missed, as many of these mushrooms are edible and among the last of the mycorrhizal fungi to appear in temperate climates before temperatures plummet and the ground freezes.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve made several trips to conifer-rich woodlands in order to witness this end-of-the-year fungal grand finale.

And on almost every occasion, slimy mushrooms were in no short supply.

If you’re interested in learning more about these wild edible mushrooms whose golden days are numbered, check out the brand new video!

I was recently invited to speak with the hosts of The Survival Show Podcast on the topic of wild mushrooms.  In this episode, we cover the “foolproof four,” tips on getting started, whether or not mushrooms make great survival food, and lots more.  Here are 3 ways to listen to the interview:

Thanks for reading and watching, and as always, thank you for your support!

-Adam Haritan

Sacred Tree Profile: Black Locust’s Medicine, Magic, Mythology and Meanings

The Druid's Garden

Black locust in bloom

Black Locust (Robinia pseudoacacia) is a spiny, scraggly tree that is found abundantly along the US East Coast. Very little is written about this tree from a magical or mythological perspective, although certainly, anyone who works wood or practices permaculture is aware of the more tangible benefits this tree provides. In today’s post, we explore this amazing tree and start building some more specific magical knowledge to incorporate this tree into local druidic or nature-spirituality practices.

My parents’ land in Western PA, land where I grew up, consisted primarily of old potato fields.  We had two sets of tree lines where the farmers had let the trees grow; these lines were full of huge cherry and maple trees grew.  In between those tree lines as the land sloped down the mountain were open areas populated with blackberry bushes, hawthorn, and black locusts–several acres of them…

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How to Make Elderberry Syrup for Immune Health

Good Witches Homestead

Each year as winter approaches, I reliably find my patients asking me about the best herbal remedies to use during the cold weather months. One of the most common questions I encounter is, “What nutritional preparations can I use to help keep my family strong and healthy throughout the sniffle season?”. There’s a wide array of herbs well-suited to addressing specific and general winter wellness goals, but one of my favorite, tried-and-true choices for general immune support is the elderberry.

And while there are lots of ways to enjoy the healthful benefits of elderberries, one of the best-loved is that longtime herbal apothecary staple, elderberry syrup.

Elderberry Syrup Benefits

The berries, flowers, and bark of the elder (Sambucus) plant have long been prized by herbalists across the globe, and modern studies have also substantiated the berries’ ability to help maintain normal, healthy functioning of our immune system*. This makes elderberry an…

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The Hottest Mushroom In The Forest

Greetings!

An interesting quality about wild mushrooms is that more than a few of them will burn your mouth.

This may come as a surprise to those of us who have only eaten store-bought mushrooms — most of which, while certainly tasty, are rather mild-mannered.

Beyond the grocery store walls and out in a wild forest, however, there are particular wild mushrooms whose flavors range from hot, to really hot, to excruciatingly hot.  Researchers aren’t even entirely clear as to why certain mushrooms demonstrate these qualities while other fungi — even poisonous species — can be flavorless.

In this brand new video, we discuss what many people consider to be thehottest mushroom in the forest, as well as some proposed theories behind such quirks in nature.

If you’re interested in learning more about this very common (and very hot!) wild mushroom, check out the video!

Speaking of store-bought food, here’s a species that commonly inhabits grocery store shelves as well as wild spaces outside the supermarket.  Known to many of us as the Goji Berry, this wild edible nightshade is fruiting in eastern North America this month.  Check out this Instagram post to learn more!

Thanks for reading and watching, and as always, thank you for your support!

-Adam Haritan

Lion’s Mane Mushroom — Same Spot, 5 Years In A Row (new video!)

Greetings!

Many years ago, a large white oak tree succumbed to windsnap on a hillside located a few miles from my home.  The standing snag remains, though the rest of the tree lies scattered on the forest floor leading down to a creek.

Since its death, this tree has given life to various fungal species.  Crust fungi adorn bits and pieces of the bark all year round, while cap-and-stem mushrooms appear transiently after seasonal rains.

Among the dozens of fungi that inhabit this fallen oak tree is one species that cannot be ignored.  More than JAM (“just another mushroom”), this particular species is touted for its exquisite taste and medicinal potential.

For the past five years, I’ve paid special visits to the deceased oak tree in search of this delicious, late-season mushroom.  And for the past five years, I’ve never been let down… even during prolonged dry spells.

Check out the newest video to learn more!

I was a recent guest on the Bent Over Wellness Podcast hosted by Isidora Romantini.  In this interview, we discuss ecological roles of fungi, medicinal mushrooms, the importance of learning your land, and lots more.  Check it out!

Thanks for reading and watching, and as always, thank you for your support!

-Adam Haritan

Food as Medicine: Black Chokeberry (Aronia melanocarpa, Rosaceae)

Crooked Bear Creek Organic Herbs

Black chokeberry (Aronia melanocarpa), also known as aronia berry, is a member of the economically important rose (Rosaceae) family, which includes other pome-producing plants like apple (Malus spp.), pear (Pyrus spp.), and quince (Cydonia oblonga). A pome is a fruit produced by the Malinae subtribe within Rosaceae. The genus Aronia includes two species of shrubs that are both native to North America: A. melanocarpa (black chokeberry) and A. arbutifolia (red chokeberry).1 Aronia melanocarpa grows to a height of 4-8 feet (1.2-2.4 meters) and is a cold-hardy, deciduous, thicket-forming shrub that prefers full sun and woodland edges.2,3 Black chokeberry’s natural range extends from the northeastern part of North America and the Great Lakes region to the Appalachian Mountains.1

In spring, black chokeberry shrubs produce clusters of white-to-pink flowers that are 2-2.5 inches long and each form 10-15 pea-sized, purple-black pomes after…

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Sacred Tree Profile: Chestnut’s Magic, Medicine, Mythology and Meaning (Castanea dentata)

The Druid's Garden

Basket of abundant chestnuts!

Just a few weeks ago, I went and checked the local chestnut trees that are in a field near where I live.  Ever since I moved to the new homestead, I have been eagerly visiting these trees.  Last year, they dropped plenty of husks but with only shriveled nuts inside. This year, I was extraordinarily pleased to find that both trees had produced a bumper crop of the delicious nuts–some almost 2″ across, but most smaller, almost all worm-free, and delicious. I eagerly filled my basket with the nuts, stepping carefully around the extremely prickly husks.  I sat with each of the trees and we conversed as I harvested the nuts. I took home 25 lbs of nuts that day, and these nuts will sustain myself, my geese (who love them), and my friends and family for many a Samhain, Thanksgiving, and Yule feast!  Chestnut trees…

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On The Hunt For Autumn Mushrooms (new video)!

Greetings!

After spending a wonderful weekend teaching classes at the Midwest Wild Harvest Festival in Wisconsin, I’m back in Pennsylvania and excited to experience the transformations that accompany the autumn season.

Western Pennsylvania, unlike most of Wisconsin, has experienced very little rainfall during the past month.  Honey holes and hen houses have been awfully and uncharacteristically quiet in many parts of our woods, leading many dispirited foragers to wonder aloud (and especially on Facebook): “Is it time to hang up the basket?”

Fortunately, the claim that any mushroom season is “poor” is oftentimes one of opinion and conjecture.  As the notable mycologist Gary Lincoff would frequently say:  “Even if you don’t see the mushrooms, they’re there.”

In other words, keep looking.

Taking Gary’s advice to heart, I’m forever committed to finding fungi even in the most inhospitable of circumstances.  In this brand new video, I share with you a recent excursion into the (very dry) woods in search of autumn mushrooms.

More than just a mushroom hunt, however, this video features discussions on old growth trees, the ecological value of parasites, and nutty decomposers.

Enjoy!

I was a recent guest on the World Wild Podcast, hosted by internationally renowned wild foods expert, author, and public speaker Miles Irving.  In this interview, we discuss nature deficit disorder, societal barriers to nature connection, medicinal mushrooms, wild spring water, and more.   Check it out!

Thanks for reading and watching, and as always, thank you for your support!

-Adam Haritan

A New Study Supports The Claim That This Mushroom Can Stave Off Dementia

Greetings!

I’m constantly scanning the scientific literature in search of new studies that document the healing potential of mushrooms.  Recently, I encountered a study whose results lend even more support to the use of one particular mushroom for cognitive health.

Lion’s Mane (Hericium erinaceus) is an edible mushroom whose fruiting body consists of an unbranched, cushiony mass of icicle-like spines.  This fungus is a common decomposer of hardwood trees and can often be found late summer through early winter in eastern North America.

In addition to its culinary use, Lion’s Mane is valued for its potential therapeutic applications.  More specifically, extracts from this fungus have been shown to offer support for the treatment of cognitive impairment and depression.

A brand new study published in the journal Biomedical Research revealed that ingestion of Lion’s Mane fruiting bodies significantly improved cognitive function in human participants.

This double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial utilized 31 humans over the age of 50.  Participants in the experimental group ingested 4 supplements — each containing 0.8 grams of powdered Lion’s Mane — every day for 12 weeks.

After 12 weeks of ingestion, the participants in the experimental group significantly outperformed those in the control group (participants who received a placebo) on tests that are commonly used in medicine to screen for dementia.

Researchers concluded that compounds within Lion’s Mane known as hericenones potentially have the ability to influence “brain neural networks and improve cognitive functions” (Biomedical Research, 2019).

Even better, Lion’s Mane is currently fruiting in eastern North America and will continue to make appearances throughout the next few months.  In other words, you have the ability to forage your own wild medicine right now.

If you’re interested in learning how to forage Lion’s Mane and dozens of other wild fungi, don’t forget to check out what Foraging Wild Mushrooms has to offer.

This online course is designed to teach you the skills necessary to safely and confidently harvest wild fungi for food, for medicine, for study, and for fun.

Today (Monday) is the last day to enroll, as registration will close at midnight.

To learn more, you can follow this link:  Foraging Wild Mushrooms

In the meantime, consider delving deeper into the fascinating world of Lion’s Mane and its ability to protect the human brain against cognitive decline.  The research seems promising!

Thanks for reading, and as always, thank you for your support!

-Adam Haritan