Fergus Drennan and Courtney Tyler discuss their pioneering work exploring the cutting-edge of food and medicine using the fly agaric mushroom (Amanita muscaria).

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Show Notes


Robin: [00:00:00] So can why don’t start by introducing yourselves, who you are, what you do, and what’s this interest in Fly agaric?

Courtney: [00:00:10] Fergus and I met at the Association of Foragers in February in Wales. And, we’re walking up a mountain and started talking about fly agaric. And I was very intrigued by this mushroom for a while, but not as long as Fergus had been. So he had a lot more experience and, stories to tell me, which were very fascinating to me.

And, I’ve really enjoyed. Doing collaborations lately. It’s a new thing, but reaching out and trying to cocreate some experiences and Fergus responded very positively. When I asked him if we might do something together in Ireland, around the fly agaric and this really exciting day was born. That we poured a lot of love and thought and consideration into .

Fergus: [00:00:51] As Courtney says, the whole COVID thing and you meet people and suss them out. are you a hugger? You’re not a hugger. Are you like, I think we sussed each other out quite quickly, but, and this is a new term that we’ve come up with subsequently, which we both love, which is that we were both definitely fly agaricans.

Lovers of the fly agaric and. it’s very refreshing because to find a fellow fly agarican, because it’s a challenging fungus for people. But as I heard Courtney, as I described the other day speaking,  quite, what did I say? You were speaking like quite

on the right yard. My wrist right here on the other day about the fly guy. And she said some very important things, which is, I think why it had this mutual appeal for both of us next. But you Robin as well, is that as the forager. it ticks all those boxes. It’s it can be edible, it can be poisonous, it can be medicinal, it can be used with spiritual practice and it’s just such a gateway to so many discussions and so much kind of creative workings. So yeah, you can gather all this.

Robin: [00:02:12] It was interesting because the usual cultural conception of. The red mushroom with white spots is, Oh, that’s the one the shamans take or people go and have a jolly and the countryside. And yet you’ve taken it into a whole other area of research and experimentation.

So psychotropic uses aside, shamanic uses, spiritual uses. What’s the real pull outside that kind of cliched identification of the  mushroom? 

Courtney: [00:02:53] Oh, there’s so many angles, But one thing that really calls out to me is I’m so intrigued by things demonized, maybe beyond their due. And I hear the fly agaric. The books I read and the resources I’ve been presented and the general consensus or whatever, I’m walking around in the forest with a basket full of fly agaric people stop me and say, wait a minute, what are you doing? That’s deadly poisonous. It shouldn’t even be touching it.

And I really like to learn from myself and to share with others the true parameters of how things are edible or medicinal, or toxic and this mushroom isn’t really so daunting. it’s powerful for sure. And has a fascinating history. And use throughout time. And I’m excited by all of those different angles that it has, but apart from all of that, it’s just really delicious as well.

Once it’s detoxed, of course, which is very easy to do. It’s probably one of the tastiest mushrooms. And, It’s not a difficult or lengthy process to detox. They’re water soluble toxins, and it’s as simple, but generally boiling some salted water. There’s certain parameters. We can talk about how to do that really safely for the public, but  it’s, Absolutely delicious and also a very powerful medicine.

So not, I’m not talking about the, psychotropic effects, but I’ve used it really effectively as an external medicine for sciatica, which is also very appealing to me because it’s had a profound effect for me personally, and for the people I’ve shared it with.

Fergus: [00:04:23] I think for me, it’s just the pure, playful joy of the mushroom, that is the thing. And when I’m talking to people out foraging and I try to keep going in my own practice is to approach things as if I’m a child, always curious, always playful and the fly agaric itself. Although we, I live in a culture in the UK and Ireland as well, that is described as mycophobic.

There is a very kind of tangible way in which, even as small children, we are familiar with the fly agaric in picture books, story books. And it’s not necessarily there as something scary or to be fearful of.  If you’re looking at these books as a kind of pre-verbal child, whether you are two to three?

It’s just some integral part of the story. It’s a character there, so that, I think that resonates with us. So I think we’re primed as adults to meet that fungi. Now, in the meantime, between three or four or five or six or seven years old, we’ve been, kinda culturally conditioned to think, Oh no, this is that like toadstool.

So when you can turn that on its head and say, wow, actually, if we get back into that playful kind of spirit of the child and approach it respectively, with respect and, just joy and creativity, we can see actually there’s so many more amazing dimensions to this fungus than all these things have been overlaid on us in terms of the fear and don’t touch it, in the meantime, since we were younger, so opening that up and challenging cultural, assumptions again as Courtney says, is when something is being demonised and for no good reason, lets dispel that and put things on the correct footing again and acknowledge how wonderful actually the mushroom is. 

Robin: [00:06:23] That’s really important for me. The demonising aspect. The way a culture demonises plants and fungi and the other. And when I was discussing with some friends that I wanted to get you folks on, I got serious grief. I got told that. I was being irresponsible that it’s just not something that I should be putting out into the public domain. I just went, hang on there is the psychotropic side, that’s fine. It has a place. It has a context, but I knew from talking with you Fergus, and hearing you talk at the medicinal mushroom conference as a attendee that  it just goes further.

Henriette Kress with the sciatica when she initially brought that, protocol to be used for sciatica, which obviously now Courtney you’ve explored and, going with, and I knew that you’d eaten it Fergus and I was intrigued by what you were doing with it and to break it out and see the complete story of this particular mushroom is why I’ve asked you here. 

There’s a thousand videos and books talking on the spiritual side. So in this particular interview,  it is the food and the medicine side that I’m interested in.

So the food side, basically you did a day event with some people looking at the, was it just the food uses or did you explore the medicine side as well?

Courtney: [00:08:06] We did many things. We, explored the medicine side. Everyone made their own external remedy, a tincture for the sciatica or nerve pain as recommended by Henriette Kress. And also we fermented, we lacto-fermented the mushrooms and, Fergus kind of shined in all of his glory by creating some very fantastical, mind-blowing fly agaric based meals and desserts, that kind of really pushed the boundaries of delicious and exciting. 

Fergus: [00:08:37] I have to tell you about that dessert, because I must say it’s, I do come up with some bonkers stuff, but that was, for me, that was like next level bonkers. So I made it as an experimental thing, all the components of it, but one of the components. So like one of the key components was like, based on the maki sushi roll, which if people that don’t know, like when we think of sushi, often people are aware of the one where you’ve got the Nori sheet and it’s a roll and then it’s cut into segments and it’s wrapped around rice and you have those little rounds. So it was a take on that, except instead of the seaweed as the outer layer, it was detoxed fly agaric that was blended with sugar and cinnamon and cloves. And when I first did this last year, I then compress dried the whole sheet over a couple of days in an old trouser press, but this time, cause we were really pushed for time. Like we only had half a day to do it. So I defaulted to that wonderful invention, the food dehydrator. So it went in there. So it was dried till it was still had moisture in there, but it was easy to handle uses in a wrap.

 Initially we cooked a dairy rice pudding with elderflower because we thought, what can we put in it to make it more wild? And it was elderflower and then we left outside the cool and thankfully  the dogs ate all the rice pudding, but then we made it, a coconut based vegan one, which actually works out much better, but still with elderflower.

And so that got spread when it was cool onto the fly agaric sheet. I rolled that up and then there in the woods I coloured it with beetroot based food colouring and rolled it in flacked coconut to bring it back to what it originally was, in terms of like more than just a nod to, but actually appearing a little bit like fly agaric. Then we cut that up and to go with that there was some birch polypores that I boiled in 12 changes of water to remove the bitterness, like they were in slices and then I cooked them in a seabuckthorn syrup. So it looks a bit like mango and tasted like mango. That was great. And then again, when something goes wrong, like first of all, the dogs helped out in this recipe and then Courtney’s freezer really helped out because we had a detoxed fly agaric ice cream, which was about 30% fly agaric, seabuckthorn leaf syrup and concentrated birch sap.

But her freezer broke down. So in the end it was just a really cold sauce, but I think he was much better.  So it was just the most bonkers desert. And we were serving it in the dark, by the fire. It was just wonderful. 

Courtney: [00:11:34] That fly agaric ice cream, that Fergus made, it was also vegan based with cashew nuts and coconut cream. So it was a vegan cashew cream fly agaric ice cream sauce, but it was something else with the sushi and they very special mango mushrooms.  So all together there was this fantastical desert, like no one has ever seen before. 

 Robin: [00:11:57] How does that creativity come into being, how do you sit there pairing flavors like a chef or is there something more poetic going on? 

Fergus: [00:12:07] In order to detox it, you’ve removed all the psychoactive components, which. When you’re thinking about those being used, shamanically whether it’s for a shaman to look into like the whole complex of issues that are resulting in the patient’s condition, like the insights from the visions and things that they will have from using the psychoactive component  are part of their creative interpretation. Things like that or some other kind of mild, plant such as mugwort that can just shift one’s perception or meditation can just facilitate the openings of one’s creative faculties. But for me, I don’t really do those things.

These ideas come in the slow gathering of acorns. I’ve got loads of acorns to gather I’m there, just squatting around , or I might just be picking some rosehips and you just get into a certain place where, images, ideas just come and you think, Oh yes. Thank you very much. That’s it? That’s a good one so that they are probably the times when it kind of comes. 

Robin: [00:13:21] How about your Courtney? 

Courtney: [00:13:22] I have to say that the culinary aspects here were all down to Fergus. I was maybe more the operations manager and assistant, but the food was the part that I was excited that Fergus might bring because he had far more experience with the eating of it. And yeah, he didn’t disappoint there. The creativity there was really exciting ways to explore how this mushroom can be eaten in so many delicious ways, but even without all that exciting and extravagant preparation, simply detoxed and fried and some butter and salt. It’s one of my favorite ways to enjoy eating this mushroom.

Fergus: [00:13:59] Can I just say Courtney?  Irrespective of this course, you produce amazing food. So like where does the inspiration come for those things?  

Courtney: [00:14:10] I guess my biggest inspiration is I get very excited by as the same for both of you, local and wild, and what’s abundant around us and seasonal. And then my Venn diagram of interest is when fungi is involved and, or fermentation of processes that really turn one thing into another, the alchemy that happens.  Whether I’m fermenting while drinks or concocting different brews or using it as medicine. I love the transformation that happens and I get so excited by what’s all around us. That can be food and medicine. 

Fergus: [00:14:44] Can I just add to that? I love to think that there are some instances where what I’m doing is purely like something I’ve come up with that hasn’t been done before, but that’s actually really hard to do, like the majority of the time. for example, when Courtney. Talks about fermentation. often what we’re doing here is we’re really drawing on cross cultural traditions, where that’s, so rich in, and experience and working in these different food preparation techniques that we can draw on those and then give it our own kind of unique playful twist. And I know Courtney is definitely doing this with a fermentation.

Robin: [00:15:28] I find for me personally, I’m deeply fascinated by what I call cultural blending, which is this cross-cultural kind of being inspired by other cultures and reconfiguring it in our particular place and space into something different new, however, it particularly comes about.

I find. That as a metaphor for diversity and embracing diversity is, is really important actually. And I think fermentation Courtney, Sandor Katz  is just about to publish a new book called Fermentation As Metaphor. I think it is, which I’m really looking forward to exploring because as with anything wild food say, you can take it at, oh I’m just going to make a pesto or you can explore further, a little bit more networked, or it teaches life lessons through the metaphor of the thing that we happen to be embracing and engaging with and I do encourage listeners to really think that when you gather a mushroom or a plant and you want to work with it to, see how deep you can go with that particular, the species or combination of species. but that’s just a quirky side, an aside. So the processing of fly agaric, I don’t know how you two are gonna work this one, but just bounce off each other.

Take us through it, processing it for food and processing for medicine. Is it the same process or are there different ways of doing it ? 

Courtney: [00:17:22] So there’s definitely different processes using it as food and medicine. When I learned the technique from Henrietta Kress’s website, like maybe everyone who is using it for the sciatica remedy first found  found it seemed to have found it through her. It’s the toxins are still there. So we’re using it as an external remedy, not internally. And it’s simply a alcoholic extraction of the fresh cap and put very simply it could be as easy as slicing the press cap into thin slices and putting that into vodka.

It turns a nice witchy red color that can be very intimidating. It looks proper toxic and blobs of mushrooms floating in this bright red liquid. And you let that sit for a few weeks, shaking it often perhaps to help extract the components into the alcohol and what are the, that the vodka is, and then strain. And I bottle it into dark pitcher bottles and-or spray bottles actually, because you want to just a few drops is all that’s required. It’s an external remedy only, like I said. So usually if it were for sciatica, you might put the three or four drops, on your spine near where you’re experiencing the pain. And I’ve also heard of lots of people suffering from knee pain or jaw pain that might’ve used this remedy as well.

And again, its only a few drops externally near the pain  . It’s been miraculous for me. I was suffering from very serious sciatica pain over quite a few years after a bicycle accident in Dublin. And I had made my remedy and learned about it, but I was a bit daunting. It didn’t look so scary. I hadn’t heard yet how people might’ve found it and attending the medicinal mushroom conference about four years ago, I felt very bolstered by the fact of hearing lots of people’s firsthand experience and knowledge using this medicine and was experiencing the side of the pain at the time. So went home to my tincture already, ready to use and to put the three or four drops on my spine. And literally, almost within a few minutes, I think I stood up and walked around the room and couldn’t feel the pain anymore.

And it had been a twinging incessant coming and going in waves over years. Sometimes I was paralyzed for a couple of days at a time in bed, but other times it was a more niggling, constant, deep pain. Anyone who has sciatica might know that feeling and yeah, then the pain was gone and probably about three weeks later, I just felt a little return of niggling pain and repeated the dosage.

And again, it was gone instantly. And then in that case, I didn’t feel the pain again for over a year. Now, maybe once a year, I apply to three or four drops and that’s all I need, which is it’s quite remarkable, because I don’t like to say there’s miracles. It doesn’t work for everyone, but it’s been profound.

Robin: [00:20:18] That’s very profound, my brain’s just sparking off on that going. Okay. So back in the day when I had maybe a back pain, I would take an opiate based pharmaceutical codeine based and it  would relieve the pain for four hours or something, and then you’d have to take it again. So the fact that it’s now a year, you haven’t done it.

It sounds like you haven’t done any bodywork or any manipulation to ease it. Is it what’s going on with there, with that medicine, because that almost feels that’s going beyond just being a pain reliever. And something else is happening. There’s a process going on because if it was just pain based, then within a few hours, you’d have to take it again.

Courtney: [00:21:06] Absolutely. I actually, I’m not a medical herbalist and, I don’t know the answer to that. I’ve always been intrigued, maybe what the action might be. And I think  more deeply, Henriette Kress she might be more what’s happening when we use fly agaric medicine in this way. But, it seems to have an affinity for notes, nerve pain, and I don’t need to know exactly how or why. I know it was extremely effective and I’ve heard the same response from maybe 80% of the people who’ve asked me how to make this medicine for themselves.  It’s been so incredible to hear the feedback. So someone had an elderly neighbor in her eighties and she was stuck day to day living and they knew of this remedy and made it for her. And the same, she had the three drops and was a new person the next day had a renewed sense of life, pain-free and the sciatica was gone.

So I’ve heard probably. I first had at least 40 or 50, because this now enough to know that there’s something powerful at play. 

Robin: [00:22:04] I’ve again had reports, anecdotal reports on just how powerful it is. Make a tincture, use it externally and a large number of people get huge relief from something that’s pretty debilitating. 

Fergus: [00:22:17] I wish I’d known about this treatment back in 1998/99, because for two years I could barely walk, with sciatica, which was  absolutely chronic excruciating, I was on, I was overdosing on Co-codamol. I was taking anti-inflammatories and, it was a disaster.  Pain isn’t necessarily just physically located because after shuffling around and hardly being able to walk for two years, I went to a Buddhist temple in China and I got there and I was shuffling around. And I’d only been there in the hour. I met the deputy head monk. And he said, Oh yes, I see, great pain. This is through trans translation. He said, can just walk around this stupa. huh. Twice, three times. And anti-clockwise saying   (muffled)  and yeah, your pain will be gone. And I’m like, and this is what was so impressive. With my kind of skeptical, like Western mind, I’m like, this is stupid.

It’s not going to work. Even if it works for others, it’s not going to work for me. But I’ll go through the motions. Cause there’s all these monks like watching. So I did it three times clockwise, three times, anticlockwise. The pain was gone instantly, all that suffering of pain for two years gone. It never came back. And then of course I was the only Westerner there, I just want to find other skeptical Westerners. It’s look, it’s a miracle because what’s happened. And of course it was just other monks. And I was just like, yeah, of course,  what do you expect? Of course it works, but it really showed me that there’s far more going on to a lot of the conditions we have. That’s just what’s understood by the Western kind of medical tradition.

Robin: [00:24:13] So Fergus with the food side, what’s the procedure. Is this something that someone could listen to this episode and go off an process it? 

Fergus: [00:24:22] There is, but I think even this kind of backstep a little bit, I’m going to say like why, there are so many reasons why, but in terms of my personal experience of why I actually decided to work with fly agaric as food at all.

And that’s because I went to Italy in like 1990 perhaps 1992, actually. And I had a delicious gourmet member of the Amanita family which is Amanita caesarea or Caesar’s mushroom. It’s red and again, it comes out of the sack, like Amanitas do, but it doesn’t have the white spots and it’s traditionally enjoyed just as it’s breaking out of that egg, in that kind of button stage, and I ate these and I thought, what, this is delicious. And then I think the main book I had at the time was the mushroom guide, but a lot of people come to first, which is Roger Phillips Mushrooms.

And that kind of looks, and I think he mentioned. as mushroom in there, but not in UK. And I’m like, Oh, it’s not in the UK. Like what a shame. very naive. You’re just looking at what, look at this one with the red spots. It’s in the same family. It looks similar. Yeah. probably tastes the same.

Oh, alright. Wait. It says that it’s poisonous. That’s a shame.  It says it’s poisonous, but is it ? How poisonous is it? Is it as poisonous as the death cap with like non water soluble toxins that really finish you off? Or is it something else? 

Fortunately these days there’s so many books and we’ve got the internet and it’s actually quite easy to research these things. So just a cursory look around revealed that actually you could leach out the toxins. And my thinking well, I’d like to do that, but should I bother? And then cause my mind went back to the odd occasion, when I sadly eaten a can of tinned mushrooms, right?  If I do that, it’s not going to end up tasting, like Caesar’s mushroom. It probably just tasted like a can of tinned mushrooms, but surprisingly that didn’t put me off. I thought, I’ll do it anyway. 

So my cursory looking around was just like, Oh, I read some accounts of people, boiling them and throwing away the water. And that’s all right. So I did that with whole mushrooms for awhile and it was all right, but I think the game changer for me, which opened the gateway to being really creative and showing me that, wow, actually the possibilities are far greater than I thought.

Was the confidence that came from reading the article by David Arora and William Rubel, which I can never remember the title of offhand, but it was something like A Study of Cultural Bias in Field Guide Determinations of Mushroom Edibility Using the Iconic Mushroom, Amanita muscaria . 

But the point was that they were showing how all the guides, the guidebooks default was just to say that using fly agaric is the iconic, toxic, poisonous mushroom without qualification. Whereas what they showed looking cross-culturally looking historically was that it could be used for food if prepared correctly.

So looking at the different ways. They systematized a process where for every hundred grams of fresh mushrooms, sliced no than about three millimeters thick. Like you timed the boil for 15 minutes after you put the mushrooms into hot water that comes to the boil. Then you time it. A litre of water for 800 grams of this sliced mushroom with a teaspoon of salt, and then you throw away the water and then you rinse them. And that was their basic process. And I refined that a little bit too, particularly like working with groups. I kind of boil it in multiple changes until actually there’s no red or even like yellow coming out in the water.

 I also take it a little step further as well, because a few years ago, I had the Merck index  it’s a bit big kind of dictionary of chemical formula and melting points and structures.  And I was just flicking through one day, it was probably one of those days when I wasn’t sleeping very well. How could I send myself to sleep now it’s flicking through and I got to ‘M’. Oh, muscazone. Oh, that’s interesting. What’s that?  Oh, it’s   a toxic amino acid found in fly agaric.

Now I didn’t recall the David Arora and William Rubel article 2008 mentioning this, but it said that it denatures  at 190 degrees Celsius. So my final stage is I bake the hell out of all these boiled mushrooms for an hour. At 220 degrees Celsius, just to make sure there’s no problem. Now, the thing is with the article that they wrote and it’s often repeated and I’ve seen them talk about it many times over the years and write about it. And lots of people I think have embraced fly agaric as food through that article. And if there was any real issue with the muscazone in there, I think that would have been flagged up big time by now. 

I’m not saying this because I think they’ve missed something out and they should have mentioned it. I think they probably looked into it and really, it’s not significant as we know with all foods and medicine, you take muscazone as an extract away from everything else and yeah, sure. It’s gonna probably do you some damage.

But in the quantities there, but I guess what my reasoning is that if I’m working with the group and someone in the group has seen this, toxic amino acid that’s in there. And we’re just talking about the water soluble thing. Like you’ve got to have an answer to that. So to inspire confidence, that would be my extra step to advise.

Courtney: [00:30:34] Having researched a lot and hearing about how it was used as a food. The first time I ever tried it, I simply boiled it two times in changes of water and then fried it in a frying pan with some butter and salt. Which was the same thing we did the next day. Actually, we only boiled it once and we didn’t experience anything, but a delicious food. There were no psychoactive unintended consequences.

I’ve never experienced the psychoactive side of fly agaric. Just to be clear for me, it’s always been a food or medicine. So yeah, we enjoyed a very delicious dinner. So I think it seems to be, I’ve done this on numerous occasions now. As simple as a boil and change of salted water, even only once it seems to remove enough toxins that I experienced nothing but a delicious food, but obviously when cooking for the public, we took extra precautions just to be very sure.

But Fergus and my experience on this has been that even one boil of water change for 15 minutes is more than enough. 

Fergus: [00:31:37] The only thing I would add to that is. I had this experience where I’d followed the general advice and slicing it as I described and boiling in that way with a teaspoon of salt and maybe you wouldn’t  ordinarily have the situation, because at that point, after boiling, as Courtney did, she just cooked it in butter and we had it with soy sauce and it was absolutely superb like it’s up there with all the other mushrooms, but I’d done this in one change of water a few years ago.

And I had so many, I thought, I can’t eat all of these today. So I’m going to, I’m going to drive them. I’ve detoxed them. I’m going to dry them. Now, the thing is it’s the ibotenic acid that gets converted to muscimol on drying, right?

Which is five times stronger in terms of its psychoactive  influence. So if you’ve taken detoxed mushrooms and you’ve dried them. Potentially you’re increasing the potential power of anything that’s there still. So I have direct experience of this.

So those ones I dried after boiling once, I ate them in a risotto about a month later after rehydrating them. And there was definitely something a little different around here. It was subtle. Definitely the feeling of having ingested fly agaric deliberately, that it was the beginning of that experience, but not developing into any thing . So that is why I refined the procedure to boiling it until you can see no yellow in the liquid, because then I don’t think that would be an issue. So that’s just my thoughts on that. 

I think the dinner thatCourtney: [00:33:21] we enjoyed, actually, not only is it delicious, it was like, I’ve heard it like chicken before it was like a crispy chicken kind of meaty, delicious, rich flavour. It was really absolutely incredible. 

Robin: [00:33:36] So have you fermented it, Courtney? 

Courtney: [00:33:39] Yeah, I haven’t yet tasted the fermented version. I also don’t like this can slimy mushroom experience. That kind of puts me off. I really like crispy and tasty and, carameli sed. We have some fermenting now and I’ll be very happy to eat them and know that it’s the same delicious food, but I might actually go a step further inspired by Noma and other places, the things they do with food. And another process of alchemy would be to dehydrate the mushrooms. So I think  for fermenting of mushrooms, I was highly inspired by the work of Pascal Baudar. He’s a Belgian fermenting wild foraging master, and he lives in California. His books have been very inspirational to me and , there’s a lot of pickling of mushrooms, but I don’t often hear a lacto-fermenting of mushrooms. And in fact, it seems they don’t have lactobacillus on them or not in sufficient quantity for fermenting easily.

So you have to take an extra step in the process by introducing a culture, maybe a previous lively ferment. And, so that’s what we did. And we added in a lively kimchi juice to kick off the fermentation. And, they’re fermenting now and they’re salty and slimy and tasty. And because I don’t like that texture of the slimy mushroom, I’m inspired by Noma in Copenhagen.

They’ve done a lot of additional processes, sometimes dehydrating the mushrooms after they’ve been fermented. And that extra step introduces an exciting texture, which I find far more appealing. And, there’s a recipe that we made together for the event also that was using ceps rather than fly agaric but I might actually recreate the process with flag agaric in future because the flavor was absolutely incredible.

They were lacto-fermented and then the juice, the liquid was removed and they were then marinated in maple syrup and then dehydrated and the flavor, they were like mushroom umami jellies, which might  not sound so appealing, but actually maybe on a nice plate or something with this absolutely mouth exploding deliciousness, and that texture chewiness was very attractive to me.

It was a whole new thing. It was like a mushroom I’ve never tasted before. It was very far from what a cep was. Something very new. 

Fergus: [00:35:54] I can verify this and also that Courtney was acting like a cat around catnip. On the dehydrator sheet, she was like, but there was like tiny, like bits of stickiness and she was scraping every precious morsel off that was stuck there. And for good reason, because it was so good. It’s a big, yes. We did incorporate that and I thought this was a radical step when we began our course.  We’d spoken about fly agaric for five or ten minutes and introduced people immediately, which would be a pretty kind of radical step into moving into, embracing a whole day thinking about fly Garrick is that we tried, candied one that was, just salt candied, very, basically a slice in sugar after detoxing, and it was really hard and crunchy, like non sticky to the touch. And the other one, we thought we’d give them a sweet and savory. The other savory taster was one just been detoxed and was put in Courtney’s, what’d you call it the fermented cep juice.

Before going on to add the syrup. So we marinated in that overnight. And so for sweet and savory person. 

Robin: [00:37:09] The exciting angles are what?

Fergus: [00:37:11] I said to Courtney, when we finished this event and said yeah, this could be the, it had the feeling like it could build into something a week long celebration of, the festival of the fly agaric, because there are all those elements, that the food, the medicine, the spiritual practice, the poetry, the stories, the kind of artwork, you could have so much fun dressing up in ridiculous costumes, music, dancing.  

Robin: [00:37:40] So Courtney what’s your website  address or how can people find you 

Find me best on InstagramCourtney: [00:37:46] and Facebook – Hips and Haws Wildcrafts. That’s where I update. It’s what’s recommended. So you can find me there. 

Robin: [00:37:55] Great. Fergus, how can people get in touch with you? 

Fergus: [00:38:00] Fergustheforager.co.uk. That’s my new super revamped website. Yeah, check it out. 

Robin: [00:38:08] Great. Thank you both for coming on. 

Fergus: [00:38:11] Oh, great. Speak to you. Bye bye. 

Share Your Experience. Leave A Note For Others

  1. Fascinating discussion and article. Only thing I still wondered about the preparation is do you have to remove the cap and gills like the woman in the market? Or do you slice the whole cap? And the stem?

    • Hi jo,

      I’ve been researching and experimenting with fly agaric recently, from what I’d read we used only the cap with its gills intact and removed the stem. Used 1 litre of salted water per medium cap and boiled for 15 minutes. Then rinsed in boiling water. They were delicious and no adverse effects.

  2. Thanks. I’ll give it a go. I’ve some tincture brewing and hope it will help my husband who is in much pain with sciatica. I was reflecting on the issue of guides such as the one by Phillips saying fly agaric is poisonous, which we know is not the case if processed properly. However, the danger of labelling it otherwise is that people new to foraging might not take precautions when collecting. Such as keeping it separate from funghi like field mushrooms and chanterelles that don’t need the same processing to make them safe. I also chopped up the fly agaric on a plate that is easily washed rather than a board.


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