Skip to main content

My First Wild Chaga - Inonotus obliquus

If you ask any forager what their 'favourite first find' is, you may well be amazed at the extent and diversity of the answers you'll receive. Generally speaking, all first time discoveries are special. However, certain instances have extra special status dependant upon personality type and of course the discovery. There are many 'fantastic firsts' that reside deep within my memory;  Horn Of Plenty/Chanterelles/Hedgehog/Wrinkled Peach fungi on the wild atlantic coast of West Scotland (different years), Marsh Samphire/Sea Purslane in Norfolk, Sea Holly in the sand dunes of a secluded beach in Cornwall, Sea Buckthorn, Medlar Trees & Earth Star fungi in inner city Leeds, etc.... the list is long and plenty :0).

Marks Chaga

Despite never finding or witnessing this reportedly elusive and amazing fungi in the wild for myself, the reality of it's existence and notoriety did come to my attention while on a wild-full-on-foraging-immersed visit to friend and fellow forager, Mark Williams, in Scotland, in November 2014 - If Chaga is to be found anywhere in the UK then Scotland is the place according to various id/wild fungi publications. Mark had been fortunate in locating Chaga and had plenty dried at his home, needless to say it was, 'shown off' and in a not so, 'showing off' style - any mycophile when in the company of other mycophiles is sure to show their Chaga off.

The inconspicuous growth that caught my minds eye - Chaga!
Approximately two weeks ago, Mark very generously sent me a chunk of Chaga via post and within two days of receiving it, I decided to head out for some winter style connecting and tuning in, while remaining ever hopeful that I might just bump into Chaga. At a location, that will remain undisclosed for the time being, something very inconspicuous caught my minds eye, I halted, spun round, stooped low, gazed intently, set my fingers to work, took some pictures on my mobile phone and hoped that what I had discovered was indeed the rare and elusive Chaga. Since then time pressures have prevented me from returning and investigating further but Chaga has very much been ever present one way or another. After reading a very interesting article relating to the health benefits of the already plenty mentioned fungus and feeling spurred on, I headed back to the location today to take more pictures and some samples.

One of the harvested samples
After harvesting several pieces and tweeting about my potential discovery I am now 100% certain
that I have indeed located or more likely it was I that was located to/by Chaga. As far as first time discoveries go, I am absolutely overjoyed, thrilled and amazed at my very good fortune and this experience will indeed take pride of place in my foraging memories.

Chaga Tea
What is Chaga? Chaga is a fungus, a parastic & tree healing fungus. Culturally and historically it was
a most respected and sought after fungus (if you're conjouring images of tantalisingly, sublime, dishes of gastronomic splendour, please cease conjouring but dont be disappointed), primarily for it's fire starting qualities - when processed correctly the material takes a spark from a flint & steel very well, enabling survival throughout harsh winters and migration. Chaga was also, and still is, renowned for its medicinal qualities and is frequently used for brewing up into a medicinal tea - I am on my third cup of the afternoon. Medicinally renowned for its anti-tumour, antibiotic, anti-inflammatory and immunopotentiator properties and also as an adaptogen. For more in-depth information about Chaga I can heartily recommend the Paul Stamets book, Mycelium Running. Also click on following link for more about Chaga:


Popular posts from this blog

Nettle, Wild Garlic and Ground Elder Soup

It's officially Spring, a time of new beginnings, longer daylight hours (yeeha!) and powerful, nutritious herbs. This recipe is one I first made a number of years back, at my first ever food festival - I had a 30 minute slot, so needed something quick easy and representative of some of the tasty, nutritious and powerful herbs available - it's a recipe that I've tweaked over the years and recent tweaks have left me feeling very satisfied with the results and those who have shared a bowl or two with me. The great joy of this soup, other than it's delicious and satisfying taste, is the ease of identification of the wild ingredients, the very small quantities required and the simplicity regarding the cooking. This isn't just a 'simply green tasting soup', this is wild gourmet food at it's simplest and finest.


75g Nettle Tops
75g Wild Garlic
35g Ground Elder
2 Onions
5 Garlic Cloves
1 - 2 Tbsps Fermented Brown Rice Miso Paste
2 - 3 Tbsps Coconut…

Pheasant and Wild Garlic Dolmades

I should really call this 'when opportunity knocks'! There are moments when opportunities arise while out and about, it's all about good fortune, random happenings, destiny (however you like to call it) and whether or not to act on the opportunities presented - when it comes to road-kill pheasant, I'm always happy to swing with the opportunity. This recent RTA bird was initially destined to become 'Pheasant Kiev'. However, while out early yesterday morning to pick the wild garlic required, my mind drifted and happened upon another idea I've had for a while, a take on Dolmades - this was in part due to the terrific size of some of the leaves I was finding, they were perfect for wrapping into mouth watering parcels and a bit of fun too.

The following recipe made 8 dolmades and there is still enough mixture left over for at least 6 more - I should have picked more leaves! It's a flavour fusion reminiscent of the Mediterranean, North Africa and the UK.


Edible Leeds: The Magic of Seaweed at Salvos

After hosting the Anglesey Forage Weekend (July 22nd/23rd), alongside my friend and fellow foraging tutor, Jesper Launder, I stayed on Anglesey to grab some down time and to prepare for the upcoming 'Magic of Seaweed' event at, Mondo Piccolo at, Salvos Salumeria, in Headingley. I had seaweeds to gather, fish to catch and coastal herbs to collect for the evenings menu. After returning to Leeds on the Wednesday, I arrived at Salvos on the Thursday morning and spent the day prepping for the evenings event - I did manage to squeeze a quick 40 minute forage in in the late afternoon to gather some extra herbs and flowers to accompany the evenings dishes; always time for a quick forage...

The evening began with a short talk on seaweeds including where and how to forage for them, lunar cycles and tides, health and nutritional benefits, their effects on human brain development and evolution (science theory based) and the fun bit, how to preserve, prepare and eat various species found …