Here at Ötzibrew, we are all about mushrooms. From beautiful little white buttons to large bracket fungi, they come in all shapes and sizes. We love to marvel at their different structures. Many of these fungi are inedible or even poisonous, so knowing your mushrooms is key. In saying this, there are many companies now who sell safe and easy to use mushrooms and do the hard work for you (although nothing beats foraging for your own!). It is vital to source your mushrooms from a reputable company; certified organic if possible, as mushies love to soak up nasty contaminants. At Ötzibrew, we are very proud of the fact that we source our mushrooms from wild and organic places. We always make sure that the process is sustainable. You may wonder where to start, so we’ve put together a list of our five favourite functional mushrooms. Starting with the “King Of All Mushrooms” …
Found in cold climates, Chaga appears as a large black mass growing on the side of a birch tree. This parasitic fungus can grow to up to a few feet wide. It’s not your average mushroom, to say the least! Chaga is a hard mass of mycelium. Russian and Eastern European cultures know it in folk medicine for its immunity-boosting properties.
If Chaga is the King of Mushrooms, then Reishi is the Queen. This beautiful mushroom has a varnished red, fan-shaped appearance. Fond of temperate forests and woodlands, Reishi thrives on most hardwoods and fruit trees. Although exotic looking, it can be found on our British Isles. This calming mushroom is great for aiding sleep and relaxation without creating drowsiness. It has been used for centuries in Chinese and Japanese cultures to support general health and well-being. Reishi has a bitter taste and so is often mixed with other bitter ingredients such as coffee or chocolate.
This next favourite is a mushroom that is often overlooked. Turkey Tail has immense health-giving and healing properties. We won’t bang on, but if you take the time to do your research, you’ll be astounded by some of the benefits of this little tree fungus. And once you know what it looks like, you’ll see it popping up everywhere as you enjoy your forest walks. Turkey Tail tea can be made by simmering small chunks of the mushroom in hot water for about an hour, adding honey to sweeten if desired. If you are foraging, always check you have correctly identified the mushroom. We recommend you learn mushroom identification from an experienced forager.
Shiitake is a delicious, edible mushroom native to East Asia. This popular mushroom is perhaps more famous for its flavour than its benefits. This mushroom gets its name from the Japanese words ‘shii’ the tree where these mushrooms first grew, and ‘take’ meaning mushroom. Among its many benefits, shiitake is antiviral, antibacterial and holds antitumor properties. It is great for immune health. Although most Shiitake mushrooms found in our local supermarkets are imported from Asia, they can still be grown in the British Isles. Luckily for us, these super mushrooms can easily be added to food to not only create a delicious meal but also help our health.
Last but not least is the wondrous Lion’s Mane mushroom. It has many quirky aliases including monkey head mushroom, bearded tooth mushroom, satyr’s beard, bearded hedgehog mushroom, pom-pom mushroom, or bearded tooth fungus. Considered to be a gourmet mushroom with a delicate seafood flavour, Lion’s Mane has become a frontrunner in the world of functional mushrooms. Its unique benefits include aiding brain function and memory. Although protected in the wild, it can easily be sourced in powdered or dried form. Ötzibrew Organic Lion’s Mane is a convenient way to enjoy this rich flavoured mushroom. Sprinkle into food or smoothies (or even pancakes) to reap the health benefits.
Do you have a favourite functional mushroom? We’d love to know your thoughts and how you enjoy using them.