9 New Ways to Use Edible Mushrooms
When I stop and actually think beyond edible mushrooms about how unfathomably large the fungi kingdom is, it’s humbling.
Let’s start with the facts that:
- Fungi were some of the first organisms on earth: 1.3 BILLION years ago
- There are 1.5 MILLION types of fungi
- We’ve only discovered 10,000-15,000 of these
- There are 6⨉ more mushrooms than plants
I mean mushrooms even eat rocks. Seriously.
Most of my time is focused on the nutritional, and physical benefits edible mushrooms offer. It is a universe in and of itself and I’m so glad I get to share that with you.
But mushrooms do even more than provide nutritional components to us. For my fellow fun guys and gals that love fun facts, here are some ways even you might know you can use ‘shrooms for:
1. Mix an Edible Mushroom Face Mask
My Finnish friend the Chaga mushroom has antioxidant properties that can support your skin when consumed, and applied. I make my own skin cream and masks using chaga extract powder. For a cream I’ll mix it with cocoa butter, and for a mask I’ll add in natural clays.
2. Start Fires with Mushrooms
Chaga is a hard, textured nearly black growth that resembles burnt charcoal. Which is a picturesque reminder that it’s a fantastic fire starter. Our Educator Stephanie always carries it in her fire bag, to feed her wood stove. Chaga grows all over the Northern Hemisphere, primarily on birch trees, but also ash and maple trees.
3. Craft Mushroom Paper
Fibrous mushroom conks can even be made into paper. Yes, your holiday cards are about to get a lot more crafty this year. You basically soak the ‘shrooms, puree them in a blender, and then press the fiber flat for mushroom paper. It’s not the most straightforward, so I’ll let the North American Mycological Association walk you through the steps.
4. Cook Mushroom Broth
There’s no better base for soups and stews than a mushroom stock. Shiitake has glutamate, the amino acid responsible for the deeply savory umami flavor. (source) Use sun-dried shiitake has a more concentrated flavor, and mix in sauteed onions and carrots, and a dose of salt for a deliciously savory broth.
5. Brew Kombucha with Mushrooms
In Russian, Chinese and Japanese, kombucha translates to “tea mushroom.” A SCOBY is symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast (a member of the fungi family). You can source a SCOBY from a friend that brews, or even Craigslist these days. Then you feed it black tea and sugar, and let it ferment a deliciously bubbly drink.
6. Burn Mushroom Incense
Various Native American and First Nation groups have traditionally burned mushrooms as a healing incense smudge to ward off unwanted spirits.
The De’ne’ of Saskatchewan used Chaga mushroom incense to answer questions. The inner material of Chaga would be rolled into two strips, with one strip meaning yes and the other no. A question would be asked and the two strips burned. Whichever finished burning first would provide an answer to the question.
7. Polish Silverware with Mushrooms
If you’re into sparkling silverware, do I have the ‘shroom for you. In Switzerland piptoporus betulinus (razor strop) is used to polish metal watches, and it is known to brighten tarnished silver.
8. Moisturize Skin with Mushrooms
Tremella mushrooms can hold 500 times its weight in water. That's much more than hyaluronic acid or glycerin, two ingredients used in expensive moisturizers. Mix the extract powder of tremella with shea butter or coconut oil for a much cheaper DIY moisturizer.
9. Compost with Mushrooms
Fungi are like the vacuum cleaners of nature. They take matter that is dead and dying, break it down to what can be new life. There’s even now a movement for human burial suits, designed to help actually decompose our bodies after death. I don't know about you, but I'm down for my body to be transformed into healthy soil that will foster future life.
If you know other ways to use edible mushrooms, tag @FourSigmatic on Instagram so I can learn from you!