Although humans have been reaping the benefits of medicinal mushrooms for hundreds of years, these important fungi are just now gaining the attention they deserve in the Western world. This group of potent mushrooms ranges from the familiar (like shiitake, a classic stir-fry staple) to the almost alien (such as cordyceps, which grows out of a live caterpillar in the wild).
You’ve probably started to notice these superfoods pop up on ingredient lists in all kinds of health-promoting products, from ground coffee to nutrition snacks. If you’re looking for a sustainable way to incorporate them into your life, we recommend you try your hand at making your own mushroom powder at home!
Mushroom powder benefits
There are nearly endless benefits to consuming mushroom powders. From overall immunity to improved cognition, functional mushrooms are considered superfoods for a reason. Below is a short list of some of our favorite benefits.
What are the benefits of consuming medicinal mushrooms?
- Reishi contains some of the highest levels of beta-glucans, which makes it great for supporting the immune system. Red reishi has also been shown to promote sound sleep.
- Lion’s mane has shown positive effects on neurogenesis, memory support, and may even have mood-lifting benefits.
- Shiitake may have antiviral, antitumor, and antibacterial effects, protecting against viral infections and providing support to the immune system.
- Oyster mushrooms contain a good amount of fiber and antioxidant compounds, making them an ally to slow the progression of heart disease. They’re also used in support of weight-loss programs, as their high fiber content may help reduce appetite.
Mushroom powders are easy to use and incorporate into your daily routine. You can mix them into your favorite beverage, dissolve them in water, or add them to recipes for an extra nutrition boost.
There are a few different ways you can make your own medicinal mushroom powders, but we’ll share with you two of our favorite methods. The first is quite simple, while the second is a little more complicated. Choose the method that works best for you.
Method 1: Basic Mushroom Powder
The simplest way to turn your mushrooms into powder is to process dried mushrooms in a food processor or spice grinder. If you’re starting with fresh mushrooms, you’ll need to dehydrate them first. This can be done in a food dehydrator or a low oven. Make sure the mushrooms are completely dry - they should snap when you break them apart with your hands. Allow them to cool completely before processing them further.
Next, use your hands or a sharp knife to break up or chop the mushrooms into small pieces. Then, add them to a food processor or spice grinder and pulse on and off until the mushrooms start to become powderized. If you end up with small chunks in your mixture, strain them out and reprocess them. Continue until you have a fine powder.
Method 2: Make an Extract Powder
Method two is a bit more complicated, but it has its benefits. This method involves first making an extract, which will pull out more of the medicinal qualities of the fungi. After the extract is made, we’ll need to dry it before processing.
Note: If you plan on making a powder out of reishi antlers, we highly recommend this method. Because of its leathery texture, it's more difficult to make a fine powder out of reishi without first making an extract.
To make a mushroom extract powder:
- If using fresh mushrooms, first clean the fruiting bodies by rinsing or brushing, if necessary. Chop the mushrooms into small pieces and place in a large pot with about 10 times as much water as mushrooms. Simmer for 2-3 hours.
- Allow to cool completely. Pour into a blender (including the water and the fruiting bodies), and blend to a creamy consistency.
- Dry the mixture. You can do this by pouring the mixture onto fruit leather trays in a dehydrator and drying at 95°F or by pouring onto lightly oiled baking trays in an oven on its lowest setting with the door ajar.
- Break the dried mix up into chunks and process them in a spice grinder or food processor into a fine powder.
How to store mushroom powder
Store in an airtight container in a cool, dark, and dry place. You want to keep it out of direct sunlight and away from moisture - a dark cupboard is ideal. Mushroom powder should last at least a year if stored properly.
How to use mushroom powder
There are plenty of fun ways to use medicinal mushroom powder. Try adding it to smoothies, teas, soups, broths, or your morning coffee. You can even add it to your favorite dessert recipe - the somewhat bitter flavor of mushrooms blends very nicely with chocolate!
You may find that you want to use specific mushrooms in different ways, depending on the benefit you’re hoping to achieve.
Here’s a few recommendations:
- Lion’s mane powder makes a great addition to your morning coffee, as it can help with brain function and focus.
- Try taking reishi mushroom powder in a cup of herbal tea within an hour of bedtime to promote sound sleep.
- Blend reishi and shiitake powder into homemade energy balls for a fun and easy way to boost your immune system.
Try experimenting with different amounts of powder to see what works best for your body. A typical dose can be anywhere from 1-6 grams (1 gram is about ¼ of a teaspoon).
When getting started with functional mushrooms, we encourage you to try them out for at least a few weeks. Mushrooms are considered to be a tonic, which means they’re meant to be used regularly over a period of time. Most of all, always listen to your body.
Have questions? Let us know. If you have a favorite way you like to use mushroom powders, tell us about it in the comments below!
References:Hobbs, Christopher. Medicinal Mushrooms: The Essential Guide. Storey Publishing, 2020