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Amanita muscaria - Culinary and Medicinal Uses Options
 
Entropymancer
#1 Posted : 11/12/2008 11:29:10 PM

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It's that time of year. These eyecatching fellows with large red caps and white spots are popping up all over the place.

I'd tried eating a good-sized dose of amanita in the past, with mixed results. Sometimes there would be little effect besides sedation; other times I experienced an interesting "trip", where objects changed size rapidly and my visual perspective moved around outside my body (though this was accompanied by a lot of sweating and nausea). While I wasn't exactly eager to repeat this experimentation, seeing the mushrooms around did spur me into doing some research on them.

Of course most mushroom identification books list Amanita muscaria as "poisonous" or "toxic", but we know they aren't really poisonous in the literal sense. They're "toxic" in the sense that you'll become intoxicated (generally uncomfortably) if you pick and eat a couple of them off the ground. Despite being labelled "poisonous" by most mycology experts, there are many cultures where people eat the mushroom without ill effect. I did a bit of looking around and found that most of the ibotenic acid and muscimol can be removed from the mushroom by parboiling it before eating (so you don't have to commit to its psychoactive effects to enjoy the flavor.

And I have to say, the flavor is absolutely magnificent. Scrumptuous. So delicious it almost defies adjectives as it sends your tastebuds into abject ecstacy. This is in stark contrast to the dried caps, which taste like a blend of scrotum sweat and beef boullion.

So I picked a cap, parboiled it, and sauteed half along with some zuchini, drizled a bit of worchestershire over them, and plated it on steamed rice. It was a tasty meal, but my parboiling was only moderately effective. Not long after eating it, I started feeling flushed with warmth, and my energy level perked up. Nothing too drastic; certainly the amount of active chemicals I'd ingested was far below the levels of my previous experimentation. Still, I was intigued.

Then I was linked to a source which talks about using the mushroom therapeutically, as a seasonal health tonic. Using quantities of 1-2 tablespoons of fresh mushroom, they report the same warmth and envigoration that I'd experienced with my half of a parboiled cap. They also say that contrary to the common practice of drying the mushroom, it's best to store it either by pickling, or by sterilizing the mushroom (by dipping it in liquor) and freezing it.

Heeding the advice, I went and picked a good amount of caps. I took about a third, sliced them thinly and pickled them fresh (in a brine made with a combination of balsamic and rice vingegar, and pickling salt, flavor with a clove of sliced garlic and a dash of seet basil). After setting aside two smaller caps in the fridge for use in the near future, I took the rest, chopped and sauteed them, and pickled them in a rice vinegar brine, again with garlic added for its antimicrobial properties.

I cooked about a tablespoon of mushroom into my breakfast and lunch today, and am very much enjoying this new (to me) culinary therapeutic.

Here's today's haul:


Always be careful to be sure you've properly identified the mushroom. Although Amanita muscaria is perhaps the easiest mushroom to identify, always err on the side of safety. There are experts at the Shroomery's Mushroom Hunting forum who are always willing to help. The region at the base of the stipe is critical to be sure that what you have is in fact Amanita muscaria; in addition to the distinctive egg-shaped bulb, just above that you should see fuzzy concentric rings.


Happy spicing! Very happy
 

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Entropymancer
#2 Posted : 11/12/2008 11:32:24 PM

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Quote:
warriorsoul said:
"I have used Amanita muscaria continuously for several months at a time, and I think it is a real health-enhancer when correctly used. The key factor is dosage.

Basically, use no more than 1 to 2 tablespoons at a time, and no more than about half a cup in a day. If muscaria agrees with you, you can use it every day if you like throughout the cooler months of the year. I think it is too warming for the hot days of summer, but fine the rest of the year, and it can really help you to stand up to winter cold.

Beware of what you read from the "authorities" on the effects of this mushroom. An absolutely INCREDIBLE amount of misinformation has been printed about Amanita muscaria, and I probably know as much about its medicinal effects as anyone in the country.

Once you have your mushrooms, you need to think about preservation. The traditional way to do this is the one you should avoid, namely drying. It gives the mushrooms a bitter, metallic taste and makes them rather nauseating. You can keep them in the fridge a few days wrapped in paper towels provided you cut off the usually maggot-containing stalk. You can mince the shrooms with garlic and pickle in vinegar and salt, preserved in the fridge (a spoonful or so is great in a salad dressing). To keep longer, dip the mushrooms in brandy (or rum, or whatever spirit you like...) and freeze them. You must include a preservative when freezing or the mushrooms will spoil even while frozen. You can also sauté the mushrooms in olive oil or butter and freeze cooked, if you want to avoid alcohol.

These mushrooms have an absolutely delicious taste when properly prepared, and are one of the outstanding gourmet fungi of the world. The intensity of the flavor seems to have some correlation with the potency, so you can get an idea of the quality of the raw mushrooms by tasting a little bit. If the mushroom is strong, the meaty flavor will fill your whole mouth. Amanita muscaria seems to especially favour rich French sauces and hearty Italian ones. It can really enhance the flavor of meat dishes, even in amounts as small as a teaspoon or two, and I have used it in this way as a flavor enhancer. It is far finer than MSG. For some reason, it does not seem to go well with chile or Mexican dishes. It is also excellent in omelets and scrambled eggs. One of my favourite ways to prepare it is to sauté it with minced shallots in butter, then add a little sour cream and salt and pepper. Served over a slice of toasted French bread, it is simply wonderful! It is also superb in pastas.

During the early fall, before it got cold and when I had large quantities of fresh mushrooms, I experimented with larger doses (but no more than 1 cup total in a day). With 4 tablespoons at a meal, I often had a little nausea, and would either get drowsy or become hyper and speedy. In the latter case, I often became hyperaware, with a distinct feeling of the heebie-jeebies, like you get when you sleep in an old house and can hear every crack and creak. Both this and the nausea would wear off in half an hour. If I continued such doses throughout the day, I felt a pleasant but distinct sense of intoxication and an oddly detached feeling like being wrapped in a soft fuzzy blanket. By nightfall, I would have rather pretty closed-eye visuals of what looked like jewel-encrusted objects. I would go out into the nearby woods to meditate at night. The darkness was deep and velvety and welcoming and house lights were supernally luminous and beautiful. In meditation, I felt wonderfully expanded and immersed in a blissful ocean of quiet yet profound peace and joyfulness.

I have read the 9th Book of the Rig Veda (the one with the Soma Hymns) under the full influence of Amanita muscaria and I am absolutely convinced that it really is the Sacred Soma of Ancient India; it was remarkably easy to identify the sentiments the authors expressed with what I, myself, was feeling. I don't think anything else would have the same effect, certainly not Syrian Rue (completely non-euphoric) or psilocybe (physically gruelling if you attempt extended use). Two things the ancient poets mentioned that I also found true was that Soma gave you deep, restful, healing sleep when you were ill, and it banished fearfulness and gave courage without also banishing your common sense. The ancient poems clearly describe using Soma for multiple times per day (Vedic Law allowed you to use it three times in one day) and taking it daily for extended periods as a tonic and medicine, just as I had done.

I didn't use such high doses again after winter started, but I experimented with abruptly ceasing use temporarily after that period to test for addiction potential. I liked it so much that I was a little concerned about this. It took 3 days to completely come down after extended use of muscaria, but there were no withdrawal effects and no craving. I had the same experience when I ran out of my frozen mushrooms the following spring. I think it is reasonably safe in that regard. The Siberian natives often used muscaria rather abusively in the winter with some signs of physical harmful effects (very similar to those associated with kava kava addiction), but this reflected the horrendous winters they had to endure and the lack of any alternatives. The natives say that the potential harm of muscaria was trivial compared to the harmfulness of the Russian vodka which replaced it. They also used it as a medicine to give restful sleep to the seriously ill and as a stimulating tonic for hard work in the winter. I and a friend have confirmed this winter tonic effect. The potency is increased if you combine it with Oriental Red Ginseng; such a combination can give great endurance and cold-resistance. On the other hand, I did not find muscaria particularly helpful by itself in straight depression; it is primarily meant for seasonal and weather-related depressive conditions and possibly shyness and phobias. A wonderful gift from Sweet Mother Gaia!

Anyway, don't take my word for it, explore this wonderful fungus for yourself, just don't overindulge! I have never used it in seriously entheogenic doses, I found it far too spooky and unnerving long before I got to that point, but you can read vivid accounts in various "trip reports" available on the web. Most people who have used it in such large doses tend to become afraid of it and avoid it, so such usage is an entirely different matter than the uses I have described here. I can't help you with that."


Quote:
warriorsoul said:
Muscimol, the main active compound in Amanita muscaria and closely related species, is a GABA mimic, it binds to the same GABA receptors as benzodiazepines and barbiturates.
GABA regulates anxiety, learning and neuronal excitability.
Low doses of muscimol show anticonvulsant and antispasmodic activity; much like Valium.
Higher doses work as both a stimulant, anticonvulsant and deliriant.

I think there is great potential for muscimol as a treatment for seasonal depression, anxiety, phobias, ADD, as a sleep aid, weight control and maybe even epilepsy. It doesn't work for everyone; what drug does? One thing is clear, the history of the chemistry of Amanita muscaria demonstrates the tortuous path and halting progress of science.

The muscaria chemotaxonomic group of Amanitas (muscaria, pantherina, gemmata, flavoconia, parcivolvata, flavorubescens, frostiana, regalis, and more) contain no amatoxins or phallotoxins, and are not hepatoxic.

http://www.namyco.org/toxicology/poison_syndromes.html
NAMA in regards to the above mushrooms.
"In humans, there are no reliably documented cases of death from toxins in these mushrooms in the past 100 years, though there is one case where a camper froze to death while in the comatose state."

The ibotenic acid is converted into muscmol in the body, the urine has a higher percentage of muscmol compared to ibotenic acid so it has less side effects.

Drying them in the sun or with heat will also speed the conversion.


The muscaria group will be getting renamed soon, all the North American muscaria (except for the PNW yellow) will become Amanita flavivolvata or variant thereof.
The European muscaria will get split into two species, Subalpine and general Eurasian populations.
Interestingly the color of the cap predates the speciation event and is a polymorphism, this means cap color is not a reliable indicator of species however it is still a reliable indicator of the varieties within each species when taking the geographic information into consideration.

The Pacific North West (PNW) yellow variant will get its own variety status under Amanita muscaria, it will be the only muscaria left in the continental U.S.

"A 2006 molecular phylogenetic study of different regional populations of A. muscaria by Geml, et al. found three distinct clades within this species representing, roughly, Eurasian, Eurasian "subalpine", and North American populations. (Alaska contains examples of all three clades, leading to the hypothesis that this was the center of diversification of this species.) The study also looked at four named varieties of this species; var. alba, var. flavivolvata, var. formosa (including var. guessowii), and var. regalis from both areas. All four varieties were found within both the Eurasian and North American clades, evidence that these morphological forms are simply polymorphisms found throughout the species rather than distinct subspecies or varieties."





http://www.williamrubel....hrooms/amanita-muscaria

Quote:
Despite references to the mushroom as being “poisonous” I figured that there were enough references to pickling the mushroom that it would be safe to eat it if I began culinary preparations the way mushroom pickling is begun — with boiling. In consultation with David Arora I begin eating Amanita muscaria after having boiled it in lightly salted water for a few minutes. Even though I had confidence that the boiled mushroom would be perfectly safe to eat, I worked up, one day at a time, from a tiny piece of cap, to a quarter cap, to half a cap, to a whole cap, and the only effect, which increased as the quantity of cap eaten increased, was one of great pleasure, because the Santa Cruz, California, variant of A. muscaria is big, thick, and sweet tasting.

This is how I prepre Amanita muscaria for the table. First, I choose firm, healthy caps. After cleaning them I slice them thinly and then boil them in a plentiful supply of lightly salted water — 1 teaspoon per quart (liter) of water. I empahsize plentiful water — and I emphasize the salt. It is my opinion — though I have not tested this scientifically — that both the plentiful amount of water and the salt are necessary to insure that that toxicity is leached out into the water — which is thrown away. After the mushrooms are drained, then I continue with the dish, preparing them by frying in butter or olive oil, or preparing them in a light oil and vinegar dressing, or in some other way.

Since the initial testing period, David has fed hundreds of people Amanita muscaria following my method with no ill effect. David has also now visited Nagano Prefecture, Japan, and seen the Japanese Amanita muscaria harvest, eaten at a restaurant that serves the mushroom, and tasted the famous Japanese muscaria pickles. One of his photographs from that trip is published below.

Over the last couple of years two people have contacted me to say that even after boiling the mushroom the way I suggest that either they, or a guest, have felt ill effects. It may be that there is something about how they boiled the mushroom that was different from my own method — perhaps less salt or not as much water. But it is also possible that the mushrooms have varying quantities of the toxin, some much more than others, enough so that all the toxin is not cleared in the first boiling. Multiple boilings in plentiful lightly salted water is the safest way to eat this mushroom.

In closing, in addition to A. muscaria’s reputation as a drug for shamans, or as a pickle for a Japanese meal, I’d like to add that to mushroom collectors muscaria is known as a beacon, an omen of good tidings. It is what mushroom collectors call an “indicator” mushroom. Where muscaria is growing boletus edulis, the porcini of Italy, is likely to grow too.
 
'Coatl
#3 Posted : 11/13/2008 1:14:01 AM

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GREAT, great post dude!

WARNING: DO NOT INGEST ANY BOTANICAL WHICH YOU HAVE NOT FULLY RESEARCHED AND CORRECTLY IDENTIFIED!!!

I am Teotzlcoatl, older cousin of Quetzalcoatl. My most famous physical incarnation was Nezahualcoyotl, but I have taken many forms since the dawn of the cosmos. In this realm I manifest as multiple entities at a single time. I am many, I am numbered. I am few, but more than one. I am a multifaceted being, a winged serpent with many heads. We are Teotzlcoatl.

"We Are The One's We've Been Waiting For" - Hopi Proverb
 
Entropymancer
#4 Posted : 11/13/2008 8:23:15 PM

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Just realized that I said my parboiling process wasn't 100% effective at removing the active chemicals, but didn't say why... which would probably be of interest to anyone who wants to eat these for the purley culinary experience.

Basically the problem was that I didn't slice the mushroom, and I only boiled it once. To be sure you remove all the undesired chemicals, slice the mushroom thinly prior to boiling, so you've got as much surface area as possible. Then bring an ample amount of water to a boil, adding a teaspoon of salt per liter of water, and toss in the sliced mushroom. Let it simmer for five minutes, strain out the water and bring a fresh volume of salted water to a boil, toss the mushrooms in for another five minutes. Boiling twice is probably enough, but this can be repeated with a third volume of water if you want to play it safe.

The mushroom is now ready to add to your favorite dish. It's great in eggs or omelletes, in stirfries, sauteed and served over meat, cooked into spaghetti sauce, and probably justa bout any way you can think to cook it (those are just the wys I've tried so far). When pickled, it's a great addition to salads or dressings. I'm going to continue playing around with adding it to different dishes.

All in all, I'm very impressed with the versatility of this mushroom.
 
polytrip
#5 Posted : 11/15/2008 9:41:30 PM
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I wouldn't use it too often, though. There are indications that it might be neurotoxic at high doses, but as far as i know the effects of frequent use of are not very well studied.
Anyway, most of the times this mushroom (fly-agaric)won't be mistaken for any other amanita. There are no other amanita's that have such a beautifull red color like shown on the photo. Pantherine's can on the other hand be mistaken for the yellow and green amanita, wich are extremely toxic. Especially when it has rained, the colours of the pantherine will fade from brown to yellow, so the risk is that if you found one pantherine wich has turned a bit yellow you start thinking that other amanita's with that yellow colour are pantherine's as well. If there's any doubt; don't pick.

I find they combine well with acid. Especially visually the two complement eachother quite well.
 
Entropymancer
#6 Posted : 11/16/2008 6:08:10 PM

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polytrip wrote:
I wouldn't use it too often, though. There are indications that it might be neurotoxic at high doses, but as far as i know the effects of frequent use of are not very well studied.


Ibotenic acid has been shown to be neurotoxic in rats when injected into the brain). This is of concern if ibotenic acid crosses the blood-brain barrier. If it were a matter of simple membrane diffusion, we could assume that no ibotenic acid crosses the blood-brain barrier due to it's high polarity. However, it is presumed that ibotenic acid and muscimol both cross the blood-brain barrier by active transport (that means the are proteins in the membrane that pull it across despite its unfavorable polarity) (Balcar & Johnston, 1972; Kronsgaard-Larsen & Johnston, 1975, 2000).

So to be on the safe side, always cook with medium/heat or dry the mushroom prior to consumtion (either process will convert ibotenic acid to muscimol). As far as I'm aware, there's no reason to suspect that taking muscimol regularly is harmful.

polytrip wrote:
Anyway, most of the times this mushroom (fly-agaric)won't be mistaken for any other amanita. There are no other amanita's that have such a beautifull red color like shown on the photo.


There are three lookalike species that grow in the eastern United States. These are Amanita parcivolvata, Amanita flavoconia, and Amanita frostiana. It's a good idea to be familiar with these species enough to differentiate between them and Amanita muscaria. Their caps are quite similar in color to Amanita muscaria var. guessowii, which grows in the same regions.
 
polytrip
#7 Posted : 11/16/2008 6:36:14 PM
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Better to be on the safe side anyway. Whenever you have doubts on whether it's the right type of shroom, always asume it isn't
But the fly-agaric lookalike's don't have that typical fly agaric-red.(just looked it up to be really shure)
They're more pale (towards orange) or gold/copper type of red.
But the same what i said on pantherine's aply's here as well; when it has rained, the colours of amanita's starts to fade and then it become's harder to distinguish them.
 
Entropymancer
#8 Posted : 11/16/2008 6:49:06 PM

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I agree, always best to be on the safe side. The Shroomery's Mushroom Hunting forum has many expert identifiers who can help with identification.

I mention those lookalikes because often Amanita muscaria's caps aren't the bright red color if you're picking in the United States. The bright red variety is Amanita muscaria var. muscaria, which mostly occurs in the northernmost reaches of the country. In the eastern US, the main form that you'll find is Amanita muscaria var. guessowii, which has the same lighter orangish color as those lookalikes. In the pacific northwest, it's also more common to find a lighter, oranger variety of A muscaria, commonly known as the "PNW yellow" variety; although it looks much like guessowii or formosa, it's taxonomically a seperate varietal, although it hasn't yet been given a varietal name by mycologists. I'm not aware of any lookalikes for it present in the region, but still, always check for the partial veil and the concentric rings above the bulbous base of the stipe.

Your warnings about pantherina indentification are very appropriate. I'm still not sure whether I want to experiment with pantherinas at all; there's a patch that just popped up outside my front door, but I think I'll let them grow, sporulate, and die in peace.
 
 
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