Using the sterile conk of the chaga (Inonotus obliquus) fungus as a miracle heal-all remedy is really popular throughout the alternative medicine community right now. Many claims are made as to the medicinal capabilities of chaga, from reducing inflammation, boosting the immune system, treatment of diabetes, all the way to a cure for cancer. I just received a back issue of Fungi magazine, featuring chaga, to read about its careful harvest, its life cycle, its self-regenerative capabilities, and the lore and historical use of this fungi. I personally am not making any claims as to the efficacy of chaga, but encourage you to do your own research.
We drink a chaga decoction because it tastes good, and the fungus is easily found in our area of New England on white, yellow, and black birches. Especially now, in the middle of a deep freeze, it is noticeable on the leafless trees of mixed forests. We made this dessert from a plain chaga decoction, and again from some already prepared, vegan Chaga Frappe we had in the fridge for a creamier pudding. Both were quite good, and the sweetener amounts can be altered to your taste. I also like to add a dollop of sweetened whipped cream or whipped coconut cream to the top.
1 c. brewed chaga decoction (below)
4 Tbsp. raw sugar or maple syrup
5 tsp. quick cooking tapioca
1. Place the chaga decoction, sweetener, and tapioca in a medium saucepan and let it soak for 5 minutes.
2. Slowly bring the mixture up to a rolling boil over medium heat, stirring often.
3. Remove from the heat and chill, the tapioca will thicken as it cools. Cool overnight for a very firm tapioca.
Chaga Decoction makes about 8 cups
8 c. water
3-4 Tbsp. ground chaga, with the black and golden parts mixed together
1. In a large pot, bring the water and ground chaga to a boil, and lower to a simmer.
2. Cover the pot and simmer the chaga for 45 minutes. Allow the decoction to cool, then strain out the ground chaga.
3. Sweeten or chill to taste.
|Sterile chaga conk on yellow birch|