Chaga is a little mushroom from the northernmost extremities of the globe that is rapidly becoming popular among alternative health enthusiasts and those looking for solutions to chronic health problems. Famed among native Alaskans and Siberians as a folk remedy for illness, chaga has been shown to improve digestive health, fight cancer, and more. First-time chaga users often wonder how they should store their chaga to ensure that it lasts as long as possible.
As an organic food, chaga requires special care in order to store properly, but done right, your chaga supply should last you quite a long time. Here’s how to store chaga the proper way.
HOW TO STORE CHAGA
It’s important to remember that despite its rock- or earth-like appearance, chaga is a fungus, and thus composed of living tissue. As such, you need to take the same precautions you would when storing any other kind of dry food. While dried chaga has a long shelf life, exposure to the elements can whittle away its nutritional content, and poorly-stored chaga makes an appetizing snack for rats, insects, and other vermin. Because of this, you need to store your chaga securely and safely.
To begin with, you should ensure that your chaga is dried out, as waterlogged chaga runs the risk of becoming moldy. If you purchase chaga from a vendor, it will be dried out for you, but if you harvest your own chaga, you’ll need to dry it yourself. You can dry chaga by leaving it out in the sunlight, using an oven, or simply air-drying it in your home. Moldy chaga can make you sick if consumed, so ensure that your chaga is completely dry before using or storing it.
When preparing to store chaga, you should select a cool, dark area that is away from sunlight, as prolonged sun and heat exposure can cause long-term degradation. Some chaga enthusiasts store their chaga in a freezer, but this is unnecessary and can damage the chaga’s nutritional content. A cupboard will suffice for most users.
Chaga should be kept in airtight containers that minimize airborne contaminants as well as prevent rodents and insects from breaking through. While a Ziploc bag can be used to store chaga in a pinch, you’ll want to use Tupperware plastic containers or glass Ball jars for long-term storage. For best results, use a vacuum-sealed container to ensure that nothing can get in or out. Be sure to select a storage container that is appropriate for the type of chaga you have; depending on whether your chaga is in powdered form or in chunks, you’ll need to select a storage method that allows for easy access.
Another important thing to keep in mind when storing chaga is the expiration date. While chaga can last for quite a long time, it eventually goes bad, as all foods do. While consuming expired chaga won’t necessarily make you sick, expired chaga lacks the nutritional content that makes it worth consuming in the first place. Because of this, you’ll want to keep track of when you acquired your chaga and how long it will last.
If you purchase chaga from a vendor, the expiration date will usually be included as part of the product’s packaging. If you are harvesting your own chaga, you’ll need to write down when you collected it. Chaga can last for up to a year without losing its nutritional value, so when sorting your chaga into storage containers, write down the expiration date on a piece of tape and affix it to each container. This will ensure you can keep track of everything. Ideally, you should not mix chaga batches that have different expiration dates, but if you run out of containers and need to mix chaga together, use the expiration date of the oldest batch.
Chaga isn’t a particularly delicate food, and you don’t need to go to great lengths to keep it safe. However, sloppy storage can lead to your chaga being consumed by mold, stolen by pests, or simply withered away due to exposure to the elements. Follow a few basic methods for proper storage and you can keep your chaga secure without any extra thought on your part.
Chaga is a long-lived mushroom that is known for its robust nature. Having said that, there are a number of steps you can take to extend your chaga’s longevity and keep it safe from the elements. Poorly-stored chaga can be eaten by insects and mice, ruined by excessive exposure to heat, air, or sunlight, or ruined by mold. Contaminated chaga can be harmful to consume, so you owe it to yourself to store your chaga as thoroughly as possible.
Storing chaga is an easy process that can be accomplished with tools that you likely already have in your home. Cupboards and airtight containers are all you need to store chaga, and keeping track of your chaga’s expiration dates will also allow you to throw out chaga that’s gone bad. With proper planning and prudence, you’ll be able to store your chaga with confidence and enjoy it for years to come.