We ventured out into the woods on Oct. 30th in search of the fungus that some people call the fountain of youth. After 3 hours, we headed back home with 3.5 lbs of Chaga. As the mushroom loses about 1/3 of it’s weight while drying, this is a very small haul. Although unusual, we do occasionally come home with very light or even empty backpacks after a day of bushwacking. This is simply a part of foraging. In contrast, sometimes we find so much, we can’t fit it all into our bags. November 4, 2018 was one of those very bountiful trips into the bush. We headed out into crown land near the North Channel Islands Provincial Park with hopes of finding the motherlode, as we like to call it!
It was only a few minutes before we had our hammers and chisels out and were gently removing Chaga conks from old Yellow Birches, which are more prevalent than White ones, in this particular area. The environment was ideal for the fungus with lots of lowlands, Cedar and Hemlock groves with intermittent Birch-lined streams and swamps.
After 3.5 hours of walking and harvesting, our bags were heavy enough that we were ready to happily head home. That is when we saw it, from a distance…..the motherlode!
This is truly one of the most spectacular sights for our Chaga hunting eyes. Spending a few moments in admiration, we very carefully removed about 40% of the Chaga growth from this majestic giant, thanked the tree for its grand offering, took a compass reading and headed in the direction of the car. The walk out seemed long and just a few minutes before we could see the road off in the distance, Braidy spied something out of place in the forest. Dropping our heavy bags, we stopped to find a white plastic tube, hung up in a tree. As Braidy touched it, it shattered into pieces and revealed a weather balloon device!
Based on the fact that it’s plastic shattered upon a gentle touch, we figure this device had been there quite a long time. Too bad the postage is not paid from Canada!
When we arrived home, we quickly unpacked the day’s harvest and weighed it. The total weight was 44 lbs, which is a big haul and more than we had anticipated!
After letting the Chaga dry at room temperature for a couple of days, we clean it with a hard bristled brush, crush and sift it, then spread it out on to our drying screens. After a few more days, the Chaga is fully dried and now weighs 28 lbs. Now it’s time to blend in the spices to make another giant batch of Chaga Chai, assemble some tea bags and then put it all into jars. We package our goods in new mason jars and we always reuse the original packaging to ship our orders out.
Chaga harvest batch #1018 is available now at The Island Jar in Little Current, The Harvest Pantry in London and in our very own Store.