Making Medicine: Preparing Wild Chaga
Our full moon gathering of wild chaga yielded abundance that we are now processing into useable forms of chaga, for tea, for tincture/extraction, as well as skin preparations. Wild chaga is very dense, hard, and much like the wood it grows upon, and does not break down easily. This is how we chose to work with our own beautiful forest gold.
The first thing we did was clean and sort the extra bits of the woods that came indoors with our wild chaga. The balsam and pine needles, leaves, dried bits of grass, spider webs and such all brush off easily with an unused toothbrush, or a vegetable brush. The toothbrush helps get into the smaller cracks and crevices.
After brushing thoroughly we now had the task of breaking the large pieces of wild chaga down into smaller pieces, working our way toward a powdered form of chaga. This was done in a series of different steps, trying to find a way that worked most efficiently for us.
It worked well to wrap the smaller pieces of chaga in a kitchen towel, and working outside on a hard surface with a hammer, pound the wild chaga through the towel with plenty of force, much like driving a nail, until pieces break down to one inch or smaller. You may also powder your chaga in this way, however, be sure to know that the chaga is very hard and shreds your dish towels. So use some old ones, and be sure to stock up on new ones for the next season!
For the larger pieces of wild chaga, we found that breaking them down on a chopping block with a sharp hatchet first, yielded pieces that were easier to pulverize with the hammer and towel method. Use caution if you choose to use a hatchet, be sure your fingers are clear, or you won’t have them when you are finished with your chaga.
After chaga has been broken down into more manageable one inch pieces or smaller, lay out on baking sheets to dry. This part of the process may take a few days, dependent upon the temperature and humidity of your home. Stir them around occasionally with your hands or a large wooden spoon, helping the wild chaga pieces to dry evenly.
Once dried, you may now store the large chunks of wild chaga as they are, or turn them into powder form to take up less storage room. Dependent upon what your needs are, and how you plan to use your chaga, you may choose to store them now and grind into a powdered form as needed. Whether in powder form or chunks, store chaga in an air-tight glass container in a dark, cool cabinet or cupboard.