Turkey tail mushrooms are multicolored fungi that can be found growing on tree trunks and cut-down trees in wooded areas. They can be found in most parts of the world, including the United States. They often appear disc-like in shape and come in varying colors. They are called turkey-tail mushrooms because of their vivid color pattern and appearance that resembles that of a turkey tail.
For as long as we can remember, people from various parts of the world have used these mushrooms as a health supplement. Turkey tail mushrooms have been used for medicinal purposes for centuries in Asia. They are an important ingredient of traditional Chinese medicine used to treat respiratory conditions. It also serves as food to many local people.
Turkey tail mushrooms are purported to contain numerous health benefits. A particular health benefit that stands out is its reputation for boosting the immune system to wade off cancer. So, while we are going to look at the various health benefits of these fungi at some point in this guide, let’s consider the preservation techniques that have been used to store them for future uses.
How to preserve turkey tail mushrooms
There are several steps involved in preserving turkey tail mushrooms, and they are listed below:
Harvest the mushrooms
First off, whenever you’re harvesting wild turkey tail mushrooms, you must be certain that you have the right mushroom. This often gets people a little scared because they want to be sure they are not harvesting some poisonous mushrooms. This means identification is pretty important.
However, it’s quite easy to figure out what a turkey tail mushroom looks like. There are a few key indicators. Firstly, the Latin name is Trametes versicolor. Trametes simply stands for “thin.” The mushrooms have thin shells. If we take the second part of the Latin name, versicolor, we can understand why the concentric rings on the shells appear in different colors.
We find these mushrooms showing up in all kinds of brown, yellow, grey, purple, and blue – a wide range of colors. It also grows in a lot of different trees.
The other main thing to note is the underbelly of the mushroom. Some mushrooms have gills, some have pores, sponges, spikes, and other formations. In order to make sure you’re harvesting a turkey tail mushroom, you have to make sure it has a white underbelly and the top is kind of velvety with multiple colors. They also appear rubbery and leathery when they are fresh.
They are also usually quite dry. Even in the rainy season, the top remains fairly dry. So, it is never slippery or slimy. Importantly, when harvesting, do not kill the integrity of the organism by cutting it off of the tree randomly.
Clean the mushrooms
Start by washing your turkey tail mushroom in order to remove all dirt, debris, and bugs. You could use an old toothbrush to scrub it, ensuring that all grit and dirt are removed. Use a pair of scissors or knife to cut off the tiny roots that are attached to the tree or logs. This will remove every bit of wood still sticking to the mushrooms. Give the mushrooms a good rinsing and use a strainer to separate the dirt before drying them up.
Process the mushrooms
After they are thoroughly cleaned, spread the mushrooms in your counter or food dehydrator to dry them out. Make sure they are well-spaced out with no overlaps. Set your food dehydrator to about 95-100 degrees Fahrenheit, and allow it to run for about 24-36 hours, depending on the number of trays that you have. If you have more than three trays, you can let it run for 6-8 hours.
If you don’t have a dehydrator, you can make use of an oven. Set the oven to the lowest setting, which is usually 200 degree Fahrenheit, and lay out your mushrooms on the baking tray. Be sure the mushrooms do not overlap. Run the oven for about 24 hours. Rotate the tray of mushrooms frequently.
And if you don’t have an oven or a dehydrator, just spread the mushrooms out in baskets to dry. This can be done in the greenhouse or above a wood stove if you have inclement weather outside. However, this could increase the timeframe for drying to 3-4 days.
About the 24-hour mark is up, remove your mushrooms and store them in a mason jar. Make sure the jar is tightly sealed and kept somewhere cool and dark. The mushrooms can stay up to 2-3 years in storage. You can then use them to make tea and other medicinal concoctions.
Making Turkeytail tea or water extraction
This is one of the easiest ways to maximize your mushrooms. You can use the mushroom as a whole or probably grind them into powder before adding to your tea. Follow the steps below:
- Dehydrate the mushroom tails using your favorite method.
- If you have a stacked turkey tail, be sure to separate them for dehydration.
- Set the dehydrator to about 95-100 degree Fahrenheit.
- Once done, the mushrooms should feel crispy to the touch.
- Blend in a food processor or blender on high until thoroughly processed. It should feel and look like paper insulation and very cottony.
- Pour into a mason jar. Be sure to use an oxygen-absorbing packet when storing.
- Bring 5 cups of water to a boil.
- Add 1 cup of turkey tail. If you want to make less, keep it to a 1:5 ratio.
- Once added, reduce to a simmer. Cover with a lid and let it simmer for 1 hour.
- Once finished, you will notice that most of the water has boiled off. This is now concentrated turkey tail medicine.
- Strain the material into a bowl. Press the material to really get the most out of your tails.
- Strain and press again using a fine strainer. Now you have yourself a home-brewed medicine.
Making a turkey tail tincture
A tincture is one method of extracting the best out of a substance to make it available for ingestion. A tincture goes way beyond making a simple tea. You can make a tincture using alcohol that can be obtained from a nearby retail store.
There is a double-extraction tincture that is commonly used in herbs. Initially, the extraction is done using alcohol, and then with water. The alcohol extracts useful non-water-soluble compounds from the mushroom while the water extracts soluble compounds like polysaccharides.
Benefits of turkey tail mushrooms
- Prevents cancer: Studies show that turkey tail mushrooms have immune-boosting properties that may be useful in fighting certain types of cancer.
- Gut health benefits: Turkey tail mushrooms contain fiber, an indigestible part of plant foods that helps to promote healthy digestion.
- Reduces obesity: Protein-bound beta-glucan (PBG) is an important component of turkey tail mushrooms that could help reduce obesity.
So that is how to preserve turkey tail mushroom. Go ahead and try it today and be sure to share your experiences with your friends and our readers.