If you have been reading our blog, you know that functional mushrooms have all sorts of benefits. They can help you sleep more soundly, supply your body with essential vitamins and minerals, reduce inflammation, boost your immune system, and so much more. But in order to reap these benefits, we must know how to access them.
Mushroom tinctures have been used for centuries and are still being utilized today. Luckily for all you DIY-ers out there, making mushroom tinctures from home is a relatively easy activity packed with lots of rewards. In this article, we’re going to give you a crash course in mushroom tinctures and the best ways to make them.
What is a Mushroom Tincture?
A mushroom tincture is essentially a super-concentrated liquid mushroom extract that is made by soaking functional or medicinal mushrooms in a solvent based of alcohol. When you soak mushrooms in an alcohol-based solvent, you are extracting some of the beneficial compounds from the mushroom into your base liquid.
The word tincture is specifically used for an extract that has an alcohol solvent, but you can also make extracts using other liquids, such as vinegar or hot water. You can also make tinctures with other plants, herbs, fruits, etc.
Why Mushroom Tinctures Are Beneficial
From chaga to lion’s mane to reishi, functional mushrooms can supply us with a vast array of beneficial compounds such as beta-glucans, terpenes, and phenolic compounds like antioxidants.
When you make a tincture, you use a solvent to break down the mushroom’s chitin to expose and inoculate the beneficial compounds of your material into your chosen solvent, making them readily available whenever you need a mushroom boost. Plus, since they are super convenient to carry and have a long shelf-life.
On top of their wellness benefits, tinctures are usually very inexpensive and easy to make.
Top 3 Methods for Making Mushroom Tinctures
Different compounds in the mushrooms require different extraction solvents and techniques to ensure that their nutrients and compounds are present in your tincture.
Let’s first focus on the 3 most common ways that you can start making mushroom tinctures at home.
As mentioned, solvents are used to extract compounds from materials. Some low-molecular-weight compounds such as diterpenoids and triterpenoids are extremely soluble in a cold alcohol solution. However, these compounds are also soluble in hot water.
The alcohol extraction method requires you to soak your medicinal mushrooms in food-grade alcohol (or any 80-proof ethyl alcohol) in mason jars for periods up to 6 weeks to extract their compounds.
However, some compounds like beta-glucans have virtually no solubility in alcohol, which is why we often look to adding a hot water extraction to the process as well.
Hot Water Extraction
The hot water extraction method can dissolve water-soluble compounds, such as polysaccharides like beta-glucans, which can offer you amazing immunomodulating and anti-inflammatory benefits.
Hot water extraction is done by simmering your mushroom material in water for as little as 30 minutes or as long as multiple days.
Although hot water extractions are technically more like tea than tinctures, they can be made into tinctures using the double extraction method explained below.
Something to note: water-based extractions will not have as long of a shelf life as alcohol-based tinctures. If you’d like your extract to last longer, consider using a dual-extraction.
The double extraction method uses both water and alcohol as solvents to extract a wide array of beneficial compounds. This method to make mushroom tinctures is the best way to access a more full-spectrum list of the mushroom’s benefits while increasing the shelf-life of your tincture.
Step-By-Step Guide to Making a Double Extraction Mushroom Tincture
Double extraction mushroom tinctures allow you to reap the most benefits possible from your chosen mushrooms. Let’s walk you through 6 simple instructions that you can use to make your first tincture at home.
1. Gather All of Your Supplies
Here are the materials and ingredients you will need:
2 1-liter mason jars
10 100ml glass bottles with a dropper
1 medium-sized pot or pyrex dish
Cheesecloth or strainer
1-liter high proof alcohol (190 proof is best)
Mushrooms or mushroom powders of your choice
2. Start With Your Alcohol Extraction
If you’re using dried mushrooms, soak them for an hour to hydrate. Dried mushrooms won’t extract in alcohol as freely as hyrated mushrooms.
Fill your blender about half full with your chopped mushrooms and add enough alcohol to cover the mushrooms.
Blend the mushrooms and pour the mixture into a mason jar. Cover your jars, shake well, and leave for about 10 days. Shake every day for the best extraction results.
Using your cheesecloth or strainer, strain your solvent from your mushroom material, extracting as much alcohol as possible by squeezing and ringing out your cheesecloth. You should end up with about a half jar of extract.
Next, take your funnel and pour your extraction into a jar or container and then keep your alcohol-soaked mushroom material for the next step!
4. Do Your Water Extraction
Mix your blended mushroom material into a pot with 10 times the amount of water.
Bring the water to a boil and reduce the heat to allow simmering for 1 to 2 hours.
Let your water extraction cool down before handling, then strain the mixture into a jar using your cheesecloth, squeezing as much mixture out as you did with your alcohol extraction.
6. Combine Extractions
Using a funnel, merge both of your extractions, cover the jar with a lid, and shake to mix. Using a higher water extract to liquid extract ratio give the tincture a more pleasant taste. You may also water the mixture down if it is too alcoholic.
Filter this combination into your dropper bottles and store them in a dark and cool place to ensure that they are long-lasting. Alcohol-based tinctures should last for about 3 years if stored properly.
Lastly, don't throw away the mushroom material!! Most mushroom extraction companies make the huge mistake of throwing away the fibrous mushroom material after extracting. The reality is that even though you are extracting some of the soluble compounds into the tincture, a large portion of the beneficial compounds are insoluble and still inside the mushroom material! You can reap the full benefits of your mushrooms by either adding the fibrous spent material into cooking recipes or even dehydrating it and blending it into a mushroom powder.
Looking For Other Ways To Add Mushrooms to Your Routine?
Making your own tinctures can be a great way to reap the incredible benefits of functional and medicinal mushrooms, but if you don’t feel like you have the time to do so, consider adding a daily capsule.