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Turkey tail mushrooms (Trametes versicolor) are best processed and consumed in a variety of ways, and each has its pros and cons to each individual.
The easiest ways to process turkey tail won’t necessarily provide you the benefits you’re after.
I know what it’s like to scour the internet for answers on how to properly make shelf-stable and beneficial products from your foraged goodies. It’s a pool of skepticism. Will this actually work? It doesn’t even make 100% sense.
So I’ve made it my mission in this article to provide you with the steps and resources to be confident in processing your turkey tail mushrooms.
It’s true, the medicinal properties of turkey tail need proper extraction to gain their full potential. As more of us grow and forage turkey tail mushrooms we’ve quickly had to learn how to properly process and consume them or we would have just wasted our time.
We’ve grown, foraged, and consumed turkey tail for the past 4 years and have done a lot of processing!
Powdering turkey tail, making tea, and tinctures are the primary extraction methods we detail in this article.
You’ll also learn about some wise considerations, common questions (with answers), and storage methods.
What is the best way to take turkey tail mushroom
The best way to consume turkey tail would be using methods that extract the widest range of benefits.
A double-extraction tincture is the most beneficial way to take turkey tail mushrooms. A double-extraction involves a mixture of both alcohol- and water-extracted turkey tail. Each method extracts different types of compounds, both of which are medicinal, and when mixed, provide the most value.
The Herbal Academy has been our best resource for becoming confident about processing various herbs and mushrooms into useful products. It’s too easy to process things improperly and end up voiding all your efforts.
There’s also another way to look at what’s “best.”
Each way of using turkey tail has its pros and cons.
For example, powdering turkey tail is quite the process, but once extracted and powdered, it’s very convenient to store for a long time and use however you’d like. On another hand, tinctures are quite easy to make but take a long time.
So the extraction method you would choose could be based on the way you wish to use it and what you’re willing to do or wait for!
Refer to the statements on this chart and go with the ones that matter to you most.
|I want to use turkey tail for maximum medicinal benefits||Double-extraction tincture||Sacrifice|
|I want to taste and enjoy a full-bodied turkey tail tea||Brew a batch of tea||Shelf-life|
|I want to add turkey tail to various things whenever I feel like it||Powder it||Effort|
|I want to extract it in the easiest possible way||Tincture or tea||Time or shelf-life|
|I want a long shelf life||Tincture or powder||Time or effort|
|I want it for medicinal value and flavoring||Tea or powder||Shelf-life or effort|
Can you eat turkey tail fresh?
When we first heard of turkey tail, we noticed it was typically consumed dry and wondered if it could be had fresh. We even wondered what it meant to have it fresh and if it would even make a difference.
Fresh turkey tail can be made into a tea or broth. Unlike other mushrooms, the turkey tail mushroom itself is too tough to actually eat even when fresh. Its undigestible composition is why the medicinal compounds are extracted from its fruiting body into consumable forms such as liquid or powder.
Now, here’s something interesting I realized.
In general, fresh and dried mushrooms often have different nutritional and medicinal compounds. Shiitakes, for example, are known to have more benefits after they’ve been dried due to the activation of certain compounds during the process.
So I searched for studies that would show the differences between fresh and dried turkey tail. I didn’t find any specific for turkey tail. However, several other mushrooms have shown differences when dried versus fresh.
Turkey tail, however, doesn’t have a whole lot of water content. But I wouldn’t automatically assume that nothing would or could change if dried. So, if you want to cover all possible bases off of logic that may or may not have truth, then we could do more variations of extractions.
To maximize the medicinal value of your turkey tail, you could mix a double-extraction of both dried and fresh turkey tail. While the differences between fresh and dried turkey tail haven’t been analyzed, many other mushrooms have shown to contain more or less of various compounds after drying.
How much turkey tail to take
When making your own turkey tail medicine you’ll need to gauge the ratios of how you make your product so you can estimate a dosage.
The standard daily dose of turkey tail is 1-3 grams per day as directed by manufacturers of powdered capsules. When making tea, however, 1-3 cups per day are often consumed, and the strength of the tea may vary.
This study found that up to 6-9 grams of turkey tail resulted in faster immune recovery for cancer patients after radiotherapy. So while 1-3 grams per day is a typical recommendation for commercial capsules, an unmeasured turkey tail tea is also suitable for consumption using a 1:4 or 1:5 product-to-water ratio.
The right dose of turkey tail, for you, could vary based on various factors such as size, age, reasons for taking it, extraction method, and more.
To make doses, measure the amount of turkey tail (in grams) used in any method of extraction. If you used 28 grams of turkey tail in a tea, you would have a range of 9-28 servings (1-3 grams per serving).
How to prepare turkey tail mushroom
Before extracting turkey tail mushrooms a couple of preparation steps will help you achieve the best results.
Start by cleaning your turkey tail by brushing off dirt or debris using a soft brush or damp cloth. Thinly slice the turkey tail to increase the surface area exposure. They will dry faster, store smaller, and offer more compounds during extraction.
Once clean and sliced, either dry them to store and extract at a later date, or proceed with your chosen process.
To dry turkey tail spread them out in a single layer for 3 days. Alternatively, put in a dehydrator at the lowest setting for 3-6 hours.
Store dried turkey tail in air-tight jars or containers in a cool, dark place.
How to make turkey tail tea
Turkey tail tea is often the easiest way to “try” turkey tail as a beginner and has been our go-to method of consuming the mushroom.
We love the taste of turkey tail tea and enjoy it hot when it’s fresh.
Once we’re done we store the remaining turkey tail tea in the fridge for up to 2 weeks. When leftover and cold from the fridge, we’ll add it to the dogs’ food, our soups, even smoothies, or other hot drinks we enjoy, on a bit-by-bit basis.
To make a pleasant-tasting turkey tail tea:
- Add 1 cup turkey tail to a pot or instant pot
- Add 4 cups water
- In a regular pot, bring to a boil and simmer for 1-4 hours. In an instant pot, place it on the low “keep warm” setting and leave for 4-6 hours.
- Enjoy as much as you’d like while fresh and warm
- Store the rest in a glass jar in the fridge for up to 2 weeks, or freeze as ice cubes
1 cup turkey tail to 4-5 cups water makes a very smooth tea. The lower and slower you brew, the more beneficial compounds will be released into the tea.
How to use turkey tail tea
It’s easiest to drink turkey tail tea while it’s fresh, but leftovers can be used several other ways if you can’t be bothered to reheat it!
Since turkey tail has a very mild flavor it becomes a versatile ingredient. Here are all our best ideas for using turkey tail tea:
- Top up a finished soup with turkey tail tea from the fridge
- Add it to morning coffee or a piping hot tea
- Drink it cold
- Reheat using a low stove temperature and enjoy it hot, again
- Add it as a fridge-cold liquid to a blended drink, instead of water
- Freeze into ice cubes and add to ice coffee
- Freeze into ice cubes and add to smoothies or summer drinks
- Freeze into ice cubes and add to a soup
- A component of a double-extraction tincture
We’ve used our leftover turkey tail too for all the above reasons, and it hasn’t ‘ruined’ any of them!
In coffee, the full-bodied experience of the mushroom tea breaks the acid/empty feeling that black coffee has while maintaining a neutral flavor.
In a smoothie, it’s a good alternative to milk or plain water and doesn’t alter the taste, but surely adds benefits!
Mushrooms in soup are obviously a compliment. But as a step further, people who typically dislike mushrooms wouldn’t even know they’re consuming the broth of a fungus!
A strong turkey tail tea is often used to make double-extraction tinctures. Water extraction is the secondary method to alcohol. Each extraction method draws out different beneficial compounds of the mushroom. So using both methods in a single tincture will offer more benefits in one dose.
How to make turkey tail tincture
Turkey tail tinctures are one of the easiest ways to consume and store turkey tail. Before you jump to making a tincture, let’s understand what it is.
A tincture is a method to extract compounds from materials using alcohol.
A double-extraction tincture is a mix between a tincture and a tea.
Since you’ve already learned how to make turkey tail tea, you’ll now learn how to make the tincture.
To make it, you’ll need an 80 (or higher) –proof alcohol, a jar, and a cool, dark place to keep it. We use Everclear for the best results and the highest rate of extraction.
- Add your turkey tail to a blender with a sparing amount of alcohol that doesn’t quite cover the top of the mushrooms, but so it blends well.
- Add to jar
- Store in dark place
- Shake every day 1-3 times per day for 4 weeks or more
- After 4 weeks, shake as you see or visit it for as long as you wish to continue extracting
- Once you’re happy with your extraction (ideally after a minimum of 6 weeks) strain the tincture into a dropper bottle. Use a cheesecloth if necessary.
You can keep a tincture ‘soaking’ for 1-8 months if you wish. The longer you wait, the more potent it’ll be.
You can also make a tincture with whole or sliced pieces of turkey tail if you don’t have a blender.
Blending it, however, will offer a more potent tincture as a greater surface area is exposed to the alcohol.
Shaking the tincture daily is crucial to the success of your tincture. The frequent agitation draws out more compounds than if it were to sit still.
Making a double extraction turkey tail tincture
Teas and tinctures can always be made and consumed separately or combined into what is called a “double-extraction tincture.”
When combining, consider your order of operations and amounts!
- A tincture will keep for a lot longer than a tea. A tincture also takes a lot longer to make than a tea.
- Since you’ll ultimately be diluting your tincture with the tea, so it’s important to do so at a ratio that keeps it shelf-stable.
So it’s best to start by making the tincture before the tea and combining them appropriately.
When making your tincture divide the amount of mushrooms you have into 2 sections. One will be used in alcohol and the other in water. Allow for 4 or more weeks to make and strain your tincture.
How to turn a basic tincture into a double-extraction tincture:
- Measure the volume of your finished tincture
- Measure out double the water as your finished tincture—if you have 3 ounces of tincture, you’ll start with 6 ounces of water
- Add to blender with the other half of the dried turkey tail mushrooms
- Lightly pulse a few times to break up larger chunks of mushrooms into smaller pieces, then add to a pot—you can use a pot on the stove, a crockpot, or an Instant Pot
- Cover with a lid and leave on low heat for 6-24 hours, or if on stovetop simmer for 4-6 hours.
- Keep mushrooms covered with water by adding extra as needed to prevent any burning, but keep the volume between 3-6 ounces
- Your “tea” is ready once it meets 2 criteria; the minimum time of 4 hours has passed and is nearly the same volume as your tincture; 3-4 ounces in this example
- If the volume is too high continue to simmer uncovered until the extra volume evaporates
- Once completely cooled, use a dropper to slowly add the alcohol extraction to the water extraction while stirring or whisking (avoid adding the water to the alcohol as exposure to undiluted alcohol may damage the precious water-extracted compounds)
- Once combined, store in a labeled glass dropper bottle in a cool and dark place.
How to make turkey tail mushroom powder
I wish it was easier, but a proper turkey tail mushroom powder requires more than drying and blending it into a powder. That won’t get you all the benefits you’re looking for! Which is why you’re here, to learn how to make turkey tail mushroom powder in a useful way!
What you’re really after is a “turkey tail extract powder.”
It’s the extracts of turkey tail that are consumed for benefits, not the turkey tail itself. So this distinction when making mushroom powder will make all the difference in the final product.
For a rich and beneficial turkey tail extract powder you’ll need:
- Dried turkey tail mushrooms
- Blender or knife
- Measuring cups
- A stove with cookie sheet OR dehydrator with fruit leather trays
- A coffee grinder
- A jar for storage
Make turkey tail extract powder step by step:
- Add a 1:4 ratio of turkey tail to water in a blender (or cut turkey tail into pieces then measure your ratios with cups)
- Pulse to break pieces into small chunks
- Allow to simmer in a pot for 4-6 hours
- Once cooled, blend the remaining water and mushrooms
- Pour the creamy mixture onto wide trays, like cookie sheets for the oven or fruit leather trays for the dehydrator
- At the lowest oven temperature with the door cracked open, or 95°F (35°C) dehydrate until dry and breakable
- Break chunks as you put them into a coffee grinder to blend into a fine powder
- Store in an air-tight glass jar in a cool dark place
How to use turkey tail mushroom powder
An activated turkey tail powder extract is one of the most convenient ways to use turkey tail!
You can stir 1-3 grams of powder into any drink, dressing, or meal.
If adding turkey tail to food and drink isn’t your cup of tea, then put them in capsules!
Storing Turkey Tail
Storing turkey tail is one of the easier mushrooms to store, but not fail-proof.
We’ve gathered and stored a lot of turkey tail in the last number of years.
After a years’ time, some jars ended up with signs of deterioration, and upon closer inspection, bugs! These jars are the ones we let air dry at room temperature for about a week.
We assume their may have been eggs on some of the turkey tail in the jar, and so they hatched and live off of the turkey tail for as long as it took to die.
So, we recommend storing dehydrated turkey tail to avoid this issue!
If you’re planning to slowly consume turkey tail and keep it for longer periods without fussing around, dehydrating and powdering would be your best option.
If you’re keeping turkey tail for tea, you could powder it or keep it whole. We usually opt for dehydrating turkey tail whole and storing it in jars whole, to later make a batch of tea as we please.
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