How to Safely Eat Amanita Muscaria
Although the name Amanita Muscaria may not ring any bells in your head, you’d be pleasantly surprised by how many times we’ve actually been exposed to this peculiar yet beautiful mushroom. Often referred to as the fairy tale mushroom, the Amanita Muscaria (or Fly Agaric) possesses an enchanting aura and indeed has an incredibly mysterious history, one filled with tales of religious ceremonies, beloved children's folk tales, and even the loveable Santa Claus.
Origins of the mysterious Amanita Muscaria
The Amanita Muscaria origins stem from the earthy boreal forests situated in the Northern Hemisphere. However, this mystic mushroom is commonly found underneath much larger trees such as Spruce, Pine, and Birch, and for a good reason, too, as these mushrooms and trees share a dynamic symbiotic relationship with one another. The mushroom provides essential nutrients to the trees whilst, in turn, receiving carbohydrates, allowing them to flourish.
Sporting a bright red cap with what looks like white polka dots, this photogenic mushroom can be found in countless illustrations from children’s fairy tales. Perhaps you've happened to stumble across a drawing of this mushroom without even realizing it. Did you know the iconic fantasy novel “Alice in Wonderland” was inspired by this magical mushroom? In the novel, Alice eats the magic mushroom, subsequently changing her size.
However, despite its cute appearance, this mushroom is highly poisonous.
It is so toxic that the noxious mushroom is traditionally used as an insecticide on organic farms to kill flies. It is definably not the type of mushroom to take home and eat raw. Eating them raw is a great recipe for getting sick. So why are some people so fascinated about consuming this mushroom? It’s not called a magic mushroom for no reason, and this is due to its strong psychotropic and hallucinogenic effects.
For those who have never experienced the amanita experience, let us try to explain it in the best possible way. One moment you'll feel completely like your normal self, and then the next moment, you'll be fascinated by how water feels on your skin. Your hands will start glitching in slow motion, and you'll see the color red in a whole new extraordinary way. Your thoughts will be connected with higher level functioning, and you'll be relaxed and jubilant.
It is important to know that Amanita Muscaria is extremely toxic due to it containing a compound known as ibotenic acid. When the mushrooms are fresh and raw, it contains abundant amounts of ibotenic acid. When taken, the ibotenic acid decarboxylates into muscimol, and this is the compound responsible for the psychedelic effects of the mushroom. So, if we can’t eat this mushroom raw, how do we prepare it safely?
Drying Amanita Muscaria
The mushrooms need to be dried. Drying allows the mushroom to be preserved in its natural state, helping to decrease the risk of mold and rot. By drying, most of the ibotenic acid will convert into muscimol, thus greatly increasing its potency.
To dry your mushrooms, you’d first need to simply wipe the dirt off with a brush. It is important not to rinse with water. Next, remove the stipe (this is the stem/stalk-like feature supporting the cap). The next steps have a few options. You dry them in a dehydrator at 160F. Afterward, allow them to cool to room temperature and store them in an airtight glass.
You can also airdry Amanita Muscaria, and it can be as easy as letting them sit out on a paper towel for a few days until they get cracker dry. Using a dehumidifier in the room can also help as this strips the room of moisture, allowing adequate conditions for drying. Once bone-dry, store in an airtight container. It is to be noted that conflicting reports suggest air drying without heat will not convert ibotenic acid into muscimol. However, some people claim that they have never gotten sick just from air drying them alone.
Then there is sun drying. Sun drying the mushrooms create a different chemical profile and users say it results in quite a different experience than the typical air or dehydrator dried mushrooms.
Although the dried mushrooms can be eaten as they are, extra steps involving boiling are recommended for safer consumption (plus, the leftover water makes a very enchanting tea).
Making Amanita Muscaria Tea
Amanita Muscaria tea makes a delicious beverage. Using the dried caps, loosely boil them for at least 30 minutes on a low rolling boil. The water should change into a brilliant deep-amber color. Afterward, use a strainer to remove the mushrooms from the water, and the tea can be consumed immediately.
Better safe than sorry
You’ve probably stumbled across these captivating mushrooms at some point in your life, and maybe after reading this, you're considering taking them home for a delicious trippy snack. Unless you’re an expert mushroom forager and 100 percent sure you know this Amanita Muscaria is definably an Amanita Muscaria, do not consume it. If you know your stuff, at least you’ll know now how to make some seriously yummy shroom tea.
This article is written purely to satisfy scientific curiosity. MN Nice Botanicals' Amanita Mushroom are sold as ornamentals, for infusion into topicals, or for research purposes and are strictly not for human consumption.