Posts Tagged ‘wv mushrooms’
It’s a mushroom, it’s a fungus, it’s a parasite. It’s chaga, and it’s plentiful in the northern mountains of West Virginia. Known for it’s medicinal properties, chaga is brewed into tea that some people believe will boost your immune system and fight cancer. I have no experience with that. But I do know it’s fun to hunt, fun to collect and when you drink it, it tastes like the forest.
Chaga grows on yellow birch trees found in northern forests. Here in the woods surrounding Davis, WV, such trees are numerous.
The bark of yellow birch trees isn’t really yellow, more like a dull greyish green. But it’s clearly papery and birch like, and relatively easy to spot. The trees are also found in the woods ringing the Canaan Valley, in Dolly Sods and in much of the Monongahela Forest.
Hunting for chaga requires patience and persistence, and a few tools, as it has to be pried from the tree. To brew into tea, the flesh is then dried and ground into powder, or, if you’re lazy, small chunks can simply be steeped in hot water (not boiled). This is the preferred method of local folks, who have turned many people onto chaga over the years. The resulting brew is an excellent tonic after skiing or exercise. It makes you feel refreshed, and connected to nature somehow. Maybe it’s just the hydration, who knows.
There’s much to be learned on the internet about chaga, if you’re interested. But the most important thing to know is that getting out in the woods, whether hunting for chaga or not, is always good for you. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inonotus_obliquus
It’s cold and wet in Davis, WV today, and just barely spring, but here on top of the mountain we’ve found morels! Yes, at an undisclosed location near Blackwater Falls, I found six beautiful morels this morning, arguably the most succulent and delicious mushrooms of all.
Brown and gnarly, morels are hard to find. They blend in perfectly with decayed leaves and soil, and are usually found beneath elm, poplar, sycamore or ash trees, though sometimes in old apple orchards, too. Morels are luscious with butter and cream, mixed in with pasta, or just floured and fried in olive oil.
The Bright Morning Inn’s restaurant serves ramps in the spring, small wild leeks that carpet the hillsides in early spring. But we won’t be serving morels. They too scarce…and they’re one thing that we locals won’t share. But if you’re willing to visit us in springtime, a notorious slow season, we might share with you a few tips about morel hunting.