Turkey tail mushroom is a medicinal fungi that you can find anywhere in the world except Antarctica. It has been gathered and used as medicine for centuries because it contains compounds that are beneficial to your health. Once you identify what you’re looking for knowing how to prepare turkey tail mushroom is a simple process.
Turkey tail is one of the most abundant and colorful mushrooms you will find when foraging in the forest. It gets its name from the colorful fuzzy fans that resemble a turkey’s tail and it grows on almost any type of tree, but it’s one of the most expensive medicinal mushrooms you can buy. This is because of its amazing medicinal benefits.
What is turkey tail mushroom?
This is a cloud mushroom that grows on dead logs worldwide and has incredible medicinal properties. It’s a type of bracket fungi meaning that it forms circular rings that appear leaf-like. Its name comes from the brown tan and white rings that look like a turkey’s tail feathers.
As a medicinal mushroom, it has been used for centuries as traditional Chinese medicine to boost your immune function and reduce inflammation. The Chinese also use it to promote general health, longevity, and strength. Turkey tail mushroom is edible that is quite chewy and tough and can be a bit harsh on your stomach that’s why it’s mostly used in teas or as a powder in capsule form.
How turkey tails work
Turkey tails are versatile and can fight infections and cancer, keep away the flu and the common cold, and help with your digestion. You can even feed it to your pet with similar ailments. It works by boosting your immune system thanks to the B-glucans which is a type of polysaccharide that you will find in the fungi’s cell walls. When you consume turkey tails, the b-glucans provide receptors in your small intestines that provide your body with the immune-boosting powers.
This makes turkey tails an adaptogen that helps your body to adapt to different stress factors that you face every day, provide support for your immune system, and boost your energy levels. Mushrooms are loaded with concentrated mycelium, the vegetable part of the mushroom that is loaded with nutrition that includes vitamins B and D, proteins, polysaccharides, and minerals and is low in fat. Mycelium also contains helpful enzymes, antiviral compounds, and antimicrobials. Mycelium is very helpful in providing nutrient-dense soil which can help in neutralizing the toxins in your immune system.
How to identify turkey tails
Turkey tails are multi-colored polypore fungus that feeds on dead and decaying wood found in the forest. You can identify turkey tails by their multi-colored, velvety cap and white pores underneath with tiny pores that are about 2-8mm.
They’re thin and don’t become thicker at the base as they grow. They have a thickness of thin cardboard and are flexible when they’re fresh. You can easily peel them off the log or branch or use a small sharp knife then put them in a paper bag but not plastic. Be careful and only gather turkey tails from an area you know is clean and doesn’t have any history of heavy industry because these mushrooms tend to accumulate heavy metals like mercury, lead, and arsenic.
Processing turkey tail mushrooms
After bringing them home and checking their ID, processing turkey tails is an easy process. You can either clean them in the field or at your home. Unlike some medicinal polypores, you can use a knife or a pair of scissors to trim the turkey tails.
Trim off the edges that were are to the log then clean them off when you get home. Use an old toothbrush to give your turkey tails a quick scrub to remove all the grit and dirt then use kitchen shears to remove the bits of wood.
Once you’ve cleaned them, spread them out in trays to dry, but don’t take them out if it’s cold and wet. They will take about 2-3 days to completely dry or you can use a dehydrator. If you don’t have a dehydrator you can use an oven and set the lowest settings of about 200 degrees F.
lay them on your baking trays and place them at the bottom of your oven for about 24 hours and leave your oven door open about 3-4 inches. You can then store them in large jars that are tightly sealed and placed in a dark and cool place until you need to use them.
You can also freeze them for 24 hours after harvesting then dry in a dehydrator at 120 degrees or just put them in zip lock bags and freeze them when fresh and keep them frozen till you want to use them. This will ensure the mushrooms don’t get spoilt which extends their lifespan because they sometimes develop mold if they’re not dehydrated. It takes about 18-24 hours to fully dehydrate turkey tails.
How to make turkey tail mushroom tea
The best and easiest way to get the benefits in turkey tails is by using it as a tea either taking it as a whole mushroom or grinding it to a powder and brewing it. Turkey tails need to boil for an extended period to fully extract their nutrients. Just pour boiling water over the mushrooms and let them reconstitute until the water has cooled down, then remove the turkey tails from the water and reserve the liquid. These mushrooms are a bit bitter and although it smells mushroomy it doesn’t taste mushroomy so you can add some ginger, mint, or elderberries to neutralize the taste.
To make a tincture, just chop about a cup of turkey tails and mix with 6 cups of water and let it simmer for an hour then remove the turkey tails and reserve the liquid or alcohol if you’re using grain alcohol.
Turkey tails are medicinal mushrooms that have a very impressive range of benefits from boosting your immune system, reducing inflammation, enhancing your gut health, and fighting cancer. You can easily foliage for these mushrooms in the forest, clean, and prepare your favorite cup of tea in your home to get all the benefits.