Part 1: Kombucha In The Mist
We’re kicking it off by pairing Part 1 with a beverage that you can watch develop with a culture of your very own — or just pick up a bottle from your neighborhood market: Kombucha! For best effect, pour yourself a sparkling glass and sit outside on a misty autumnal evening listening to the trees drip, the moss plump, and the fungi fruit.
Wikipedia tells us that kombucha is: “…produced by fermenting sugared tea using a symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast (SCOBY) commonly called a “mother” or “mushroom”. The microbial populations in a SCOBY vary. The yeast component generally includes Saccharomyces cerevisiae, along with other species; the bacterial component almost always includes Gluconacetobacter xylinus to oxidize yeast-produced alcohols to acetic acid (and other acids). Although the SCOBY is commonly called “tea fungus” or “mushroom”, it is actually “a symbiotic growth of acetic acid bacteria and osmophilic yeast species in a zoogleal mat [biofilm]”. The living bacteria are said to be probiotic, one of the reasons for the popularity of the drink.“
If you’re not growing your own SCOBY culture, we recommend supporting your local Kombuchary (fairly certain that’s a real word). Find a Kombuchary near you with the Booch News worldwide directory. Here in Humboldt County, CA we’re lucky to have the awesome folks at It’s Alive Kombucha who have been brewing up the good stuff for 24 years.
Part 2: Choco Fungi Latte
Listen to the rain and get cozy with this warm, frothy beverage while you tour through important mushroom habitats of the Pacific Coast!
This feels like a fancy beverage you’d savor at a bougie bakery, but your DIY version rivals that of any pro barista.
Make your own — this is enough for you and a pal:
- Warm 16 oz milk of your choice (the fattier the frothier — I like whole cow milk, but cashew, almond, or coconut are also great choices)
Pour warmed milk into your blender along with:
- 1 to 2 Tbs of raw cacao powder, depending on how strong you like your chocolatey-ness
- 1 to 2 Tbs maple syrup, depending on how sweet you like your sweets
- A combined 2 tsp of powdered medicinal mushrooms. What kind? There are many choices available from your favorite herb shop or natural foods store. Reishi, turkey tail, chaga, cordyceps, and shiitake are all excellent!
- 1/4 tsp cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp cardamom
- pinch of sea salt
Now is the MOST IMPORTANT PART: Put the lid on your blender! (I speak from experience here, this is critical)
Blend on your highest power until ultra frothy, pour in a gorgeous handmade ceramic mug, and enjoy!
Part 3: Mushroom Cocktails & Mocktails – Apparently they’re a thing.
Here’s the gist: like the flavor of a mushroom? Try infusing the dried fruiting bodies into the alcohol of your choice (such as whisky or vodka), or simmer in water to extract the flavor and combine this with sugar to make a simple syrup. Thy sky’s the limit here, so time to get creative!
Given my insatiable sweet tooth, candy caps (Lactarius rubidus) with their maple sugar flavor seemed like the obvious place to start. This little mushroom is, according to the book Mushrooms of the Redwood Coast “very common on the coast from Santa Cruz County northward into southern Oregon.” A quick Google for inspiration brought me to this recipe from Quench Magazine…
Candy Cap Magic
2 oz candy cap mushroom-infused Lot 40 whisky*
1 oz sweet vermouth
1/3 oz root beer cordial**
2 dashes Bittered Sling Kensington Bitters
In a mixing glass, stir all ingredients together over ice. Strain and serve neat in a small chilled rocks glass.
*If candy caps are unavailable, add 50 g of a local wild mushroom with an esoteric flavour profile to a 750 ml bottle of Lot 40 and let steep for three days. The infusion time will vary for different mushrooms, so taste daily until infused.
**Combine 500 ml water, 300 g of brown sugar, 200 ml maple syrup, 8 g of sassafras, 1 cinnamon stick, 1 star anise and 1 vanilla pod in a pot and bring to a near boil. Remove from heat and let stand for 20 minutes. Strain into bottle and refrigerate. A commercial root beer syrup such as Torani would also work.
Need further inspiration? Check out these inspiring fungal infusions!
Part 4: Mushroom Toast
I feel fairly certain that the most popular way to prepare mushrooms among our classmates is to sauté them in butter, perhaps with garlic, and eat. For me, I find it’s nice to have a vehicle for mushroom delivery to my mouth and that a piece of toast is perfect.
This can be your complete Mushroom Toast experience. There is no shame in enjoying such a simple treat with the fruits from your harvest basket.
But wait… what’s that?
You’re feeling like a more elevated mushroom snack might be needed to properly honor the mushrooms you crawled under dense and damp salal to find? Perhaps this will do.
Part 5: Chocolate Truffle Celebration
Let’s celebrate the last part of our Mushroom Class Journey with some VERY SIMPLE TO MAKE chocolate truffles! Yes, the chocolate truffles you enjoy from your favorite chocolatier are actually named after truffles of the fungal variety. See the resemblance?!
This recipe for the super simple Chocolate Truffles shown above uses just 4 ingredients (dark chocolate, coconut milk, vanilla, and cocoa powder) and is foolproof.
Here are a few ideas for sprucing your truffles up with a little extra Fungal Flair:
- Include a dusting of your favorite powdered mushroom in the cocoa coating
- Drizzle an oil infused with mushrooms (perhaps even black truffle!) in the coconut milk
- Or, infuse the coconut with mushrooms of your choice by heating gently then straining
Enjoy our final session of Forest Mushrooms of the Pacific Coast! You’ve done excellent work filling your brain with mycology and deserve a celebratory treat!