But how do we prepare chaga to get the most from it and extract and consume all these healthy ingredients?
This post explains how to prepare chaga by covering the two main preparation/extraction methods and a delicious recipe for each one.
Before you get started, you will obviously need some chaga to begin with! If you plan on buying some, please click here to check out our Buying Guide. Or, if you plan on harvesting your own, please check out our Harvest Guide.
Why Do We Need To Prepare Chaga?
Locked inside the cell walls of chaga are all the healthy bioactive ingredients, such as the beta-glucans.
These cell walls are made of chitin, which is the hardest all-natural material known to man and, therefore, indigestible without proper preparation.
This means that an extraction process is required in order to release these bioactive ingredients and to prepare chaga for human consumption.
What Are The Extraction Methods?
There are two main methods to prepare chaga at home, each having its own pros & cons. Let's look at both...
Hot Water Extraction: Chaga Tea
Hot water extraction is the most common, easiest and cheapest method to prepare chaga.
It’s similar to the traditional tea-making process, whereby the chaga chunks or powder are steeped in hot water for a period of time, strained and then drunk as a tea.
However, water-insoluble components, such as phytosterols, and betulinic acid will be missing.
Although I personally love drinking a good chaga tea, and it’s still very healthy, missing out on these healthy bioactive ingredients is a big loss.
Double Extraction: Chaga Tincture
Another way to prepare chaga is by making a tincture. A tincture is an alcoholic derivative of a plant, mushroom or herb.
Tinctures are more effective in extracting the medicinal components and preserving them for longer periods of time.
Tinctures are also useful because they're simple to use, quickly absorbed, and easily added to recipes, drinks, etc.
A tincture uses the alcohol extraction method. This method extracts some of the water-insoluble components, such as betulinic acid, and phytosterols that the hot water extraction alone cannot do.
This extraction process is generally used in combination with hot-water extraction since alcohol alone will not break down chitin effectively.
Before we get started - Cleaning and Drying
Before we can begin any Chaga recipe, raw unprocessed Chaga must first have any parts of the tree bark removed.
It then needs to be chopped into smaller chunks and dried. It can then be left as chunks or ground into a powder, depending on how you want to use it.
If you're buying processed Chaga from a reputable supplier, this part is most likely taken care of.
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Simple Chaga Tea Recipe
- Sayan Chaga Chunks
- Maple syrup or Honey to taste
- Break up the chaga into smaller chunks, roughly 1 inch in size.
- In a 1 litre pot of water, drop in a handful of chunks and bring to a boil. Let them simmer until the water turns a reddish brown color, or, at least, an hour to extract more of the bioactive ingredients.
- Strain the tea into a mug and add some maple syrup or honey to taste.
You can reuse the chaga chunks several times before they start to lose their strength. Simply put them in a mason jar without a lid, and store in the fridge.
Chaga Tincture Recipe
- Sayan Chaga Chunks. Use enough to almost fill a one-gallon jar after it's ground into a powder.
- At least 100 proof vodka, but the stronger the better!
The recipe below combines both the alcohol (part 1) and hot water (part 2) extraction methods and requires a lot of patience.
Note that this recipe is based upon a 1-gallon size jar of tincture but any size jar will do. Just try to keep the ratio of chaga to alcohol the same. However, given that it takes so long to make, it makes sense to make it in large batches.
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Part 1 - Preparing the Chaga and Alcohol Extraction
1. Break up the chaga into smaller chunks, roughly 1 inch in size.
2. Grind the pieces into a powder. You can use a coffee/spice grinder or a good blender to do this.
3. Almost fill a 1-gallon glass jar with the chaga powder, BUT leave close to 2 inches of room at the top.
4. Fill up the rest of the jar with vodka.
5. Let it sit for at least 8 weeks and shake the jar every day.
Part 2 - Hot Water Extraction
1. After at least 8 weeks, strain out the alcohol into another glass jar using a cheesecloth.
2. Put the chaga into a clay pot.
3. Measure an amount of water equal to alcohol that was strained in step 1.
4. Pour the water into the pot of chaga and then use a wooden chopstick to measure the water level. Use a sharp knife to mark the exact water level on the chopstick. This is where you want the final water level to be after the decoction is complete. Fill the pot with twice that amount of water.
5. Bring the pot to boil and let it simmer on low heat.
6. Keep checking the water level with the chopstick. When the water level is the same or less than the mark on the chopstick, take it off the heat and let it cool.
7. The next day, add more water and do another decoction. Repeat for a total of three decoctions.
8. Once the third decoction is finished, let it cool. Then mix the decoction with the alcohol saved from earlier and store in a glass jar.
That's it, you now have a Chaga Tincture! Note: 1tsp is enough to add to a single 8oz drink.
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