Oh polypores. After an introduction to these magnificent and medicinal bracket fungi, I’m finding them everywhere, and falling in love with every additional bit of knowledge.
Related to reishi mushrooms, the fruited fruited body of the polypore (a.k.a. conk), has been used for a variety of medicinal purposes for centuries. In fact, Ozti the Iceman (a well-known natural mummy from approximately 3,000 BCE, found in the Alps between Italy and Austria), had two well-preserved polypores in his possession – one that has antibacterial properties, and another that was likely used for starting fires.
Red-belted polypores, in particular, are one of the most prevalent types of polypores. They are fairly easy to identify ( to read more on harvesting see here), though it is never recommended that you harvest a species that you are unfamiliar with without assistance from someone who is knowledgeable about the particular fungi you are gathering. Red-belted polypores are high in germanium, which in turn has antioxidant properties, while bitter terpenoids aid in cleansing the liver and intestines, and natural steroids help reduce inflammation and assist with autoimmune diseases. There are other benefits as well, which you can read more about on the my harvesting page.
Once you’ve harvested your polypores, it’s time to process them. Since they are obviously too woody to bite into, you’ll need to either boil the polypores and attract the nutrients into water, or soak in honey. You can also boil to extract the nutrients, then mix with alcohol to make a tincture.
The simplest and quickest way to absorb nutrients from the red-belted polypores is by making a strong tea, also known as a decoction. Before boiling, you’ll need to get your polypore into the smallest pieces possible. Though we’ve tried a Sawzall, the easiest method seems to be to tear apart the layers of the polypore by hand (I have my partner do this for me), and then to patiently cut the leathery strips. In this process, you can really appreciate the strength and integrity of this fungi, and understand how other types of polypores have been used both to transport fire, and for making clothing.
What You’ll Need:
- 1 1/2 cups of red-belted polypores (chopped as finely as you have patience for)
- 1 quart water
- Place chopped polypore in a large pot, and cover with the water.
- Bring the water to a boil (make sure the mushrooms are already in the pot, as heating them from air temperature up to boiling and beyond is important for the extraction process).
- Boil water for 20-30 minutes.
- Strain through a mesh strainer, and enjoy! Decoction can be stored in the fridge for up to five days.
The first time you make this recipe, drink a small cup, then wait 24 hours before consuming additional tea or other mushroom products. As a rule, it is always sound to eat a small amount of mushrooms (or mushroom extractions) at first, and only try one harvested mushroom at a time. Wait a full 24 hours before consuming additional mushrooms or mushroom products.
Kuo, M. “Fomitopsis pinicola. ” Mushroom Expert. February 2010. Web. 4 Nov. 2015. <http://www.mushroomexpert.com/fomitopsis_pinicola.html>
Kuo, M. “Hapalopilus nidulans. ” Mushroom Expert. August 2003. Web. 4 Nov. 2015. <http://www.mushroomexpert.com/hapalopilus_nidulans.html>
Manis, Denis. “Medicinal Mushroom Preparations.” The Light Cellar. Web 2 Nov. 2015. <http://thelightcellar.ca/the-healing-power-of-medicinal-mushrooms/>
Sitkoff, Anna. “Fomitopsis Pinicola: Red Belted Polypore.” Reishi and Roses. 5 April 2015. Web. 3 Nov. 2015<https://reishiandrosesbotanicals.wordpress.com/>