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50 responses to “Eating Santa’s Shroom”

  1. Tamar@StarvingofftheLand

    Hank, it seems suitable that I’m reading this on Christmas day, and it’s one of my favorites of so many fine posts. It is with some shame that I admit that one of the reasons I read you obsessively is that you do leg work that I, then, don’t have to do. We have fly agaric here on Cape Cod, and now I will eagerly await the next big flush so I can follow your instructions and try it for myself.

    As the year is closing in, let me also thank you for the recipes, instructions, ideas, and inspiration I find here on a regular basis, and one outstanding book.

    Best of the new year from Kevin and me to you and Holly. I’m hoping we’ll all be in the same place at the same time at some point. Bonus if there are fish there, too. Or mushrooms. Or maybe deer. Yeah, deer.

  2. Cindy

    Hank, VERY brave.

    Always enjoy reading your posts. I do skipped the animal-hunting part sometime.

    Wishing you a very best 2012 !!


  3. Michelle W.

    Thank you for this great post. So appropriate for Christmas. Hope you are having a Merry Christmas!

  4. Holly Heyser

    And folks, do click on that cautionary article Hank linked to. It’s pretty damn funny, in a mild-mannered Hunter S. Thompson sort of way…

  5. rebecca

    Agreed- you guys are brave :). And I’ll totally try this if I ever come across them (your version not the tripping version)…

  6. Marsha

    Wow! What a great post – even here in the north of Germany where mushrooming has a long tradition, the ‘notorious’ Fliegenpilz (Fly mushroom) is renowned for being deadly poisonous! It’s a bit too late for us this year, but I’m looking forward to trying it. Thanks for all the research, keep up the great work!

    All the best for 2011

  7. Rick Brown

    You are a brave boy, Hank! I see them all the time, and have wondered about them, but not taken the plunge myself. New goodies for the larder! I will be delighted to try them sometime soon, thanks for the footwork!

    Also, Holly’s right, the link is quite amusing.

  8. Steve

    I’ve never tried anamita muscaria mushrooms, but I was reminded of an article I read about them a while ago, “A Study of Cultural Bias in Field Guide Determinations
    of Mushroom Edibility Using the Iconic Mushroom, Amanita
    muscaria, as an Example”. It’s very interesting and worth a read:

    I became interested in the topic after I found out that one of the wild mushrooms that I grew up on, gyromitra esculenta, is toxic. When I was younger my grandfather and I would go out picking morels and the g. esculenta, which he called “beefsteak”. I can only assume that my the methods he used to prepare them removed the toxins, but he was unaware of the toxicity. These days I won’t go near them, although wikipedia claims they’re a delicacy in scandinavia.

  9. Alice

    I picked an amanita muscaria many years back, under some trees on the UW campus in Seattle. There were easily 8-10 large capped mushrooms just chilling in the snow – quite a pretty site. I considered eating it for a while. Left it sitting on a shelf as it slowly dried. In the end, I chickened out and tossed it. Next time I run across one, I’ll remember these directions and be braver.

  10. Butterpoweredbike

    Fascinating. I’m just annoyed that I’m gonna have to wait until July/Aug to try them myself. Just imagine, if someone has gotten to a prime bolete spot before you, you could still come away with these critters.

  11. Bill

    A better title might be: SHROOMING WITH SANTA C!!!

    On second thought, nevermind

  12. erica

    Hank, this is awesome. Love the image of you sitting around watching the game waiting to trip, ha ha. I’m jealous of your porcini foraging this time of year. Awesome! Hope you guys have a wonderful holiday.

  13. Jonny

    Love this post, Hank. There are so many generic holiday posts out there at the moment, so I was delighted to read this somewhat alternative take on Yuletide foods. Now, I’m assuming that if one just so happened to have some dry fly agaric lying around somewhere for whatever reason – not that I do, of course, being a respectable citizen – one could follow the same process for detoxifying them, which would also serve to rehydrate them, right? Just curious, you know.

  14. Phillip

    Just an awesome post. “Take notes!”

  15. Matt McInnis

    As a student at a small college on the coast of Maine I had friends who with their ethnobotanical (or ethnomycological) leanings became part of that A. muscaria. tripping subculture. One of whom, I won’t mention names, went so far as to drink his own urine after consuming the mushroom in the manner of the Siberians who believed the urine contained a more purified form of the hallucinogenic compounds. Greg Marley was a mycological advisor for my friends back then, though I’m positive he wouldn’t advise a couple college kids to trip on Fly agaric. They did that on their own accord. I will share this article with them as they have moved well beyond the days of searching out A. muscaria and prefer these days to hunt for edibles and medicinals like chagga, chantarelles, porcini etc. I’m sure they’d appreciate another encounter with the this iconic mushroom on less intoxicating terms!

  16. Katie Moroney

    you are a brave brave soul! while i would never give this a whirl i love your spirit more now then even before! thanks for this spectacular read! k

  17. Anya A

    Great post! I’m inspired to try your muscaria instructions as soon as the rocky mts begin popping out A. Muscaria. Also, shamans used this mushroom to reach alternate states of mind and to “get in touch” with the spiritual world. So be careful!

  18. George

    Have been eating them for years after boiling them for 30 minutes and pouring the water off. If you saute them after the first draining you will feel a euphoria that is quite pleasant for 45 minutes. If you rinse them again after boiling there will be no intoxication. George

  19. Jason

    Just found a couple in Seattle, dried themm ate one, and about to eat the other. Wish me luck. I’ve done it before.

  20. Dave hurley

    Many years ago in New Hampshire in the fall we picked amanita sand ate them a few times . I think we sautéed them but don’t recall as it is prob about 40 years ago. The effects were like the tail end of an acid trip. Not overly intense and hallucinatory but definitely noticeable effects. We had been living in a farmhouse in a beautiful setting, with a barn and some outbuildings. In front of the fireplace at around 2 am I painted a watercolor of the entire setting, including the 5 of us who lived there, the dog bothering the porcupine out by the apple tree. Until then my drawings had focused on smaller elements, but it was this night that resulted in a completly unified sense of the setting. imthink my girlfriend in the painting was carrying a mushroom and i conveyed the personality of each house members personality . I can easily imagine if people had developed a way to concentrate the effects and lessen the other toxic effects it might have resulted in more intense experiences. I feel lucky
    that our experiment with very little actual knowledge did not result in liver damage or worse.

  21. Accalia

    Mmmm, sounds good.
    I will proceed to boil mine with caution, but, do you have to pick off the white spikes?

  22. I’ve still got it! « PeculiarPurls

    [...] directions from this blog by Hank Shaw, I processed my Amanitas. I started by trimming all the muddy bits off and rinsing [...]

  23. Mushroom | Up & Away

    [...] is reminiscent of Christmas colors. We thought they might be fly agaric, which I read about on Hunter Angler Gardener Cook last winter. So we picked some, wanting to learn what they [...]

  24. Daniel Hernández

    Yeah they where always at my grand parents house, in the woods. Then i grew up and ate some, with two other friends.
    Me and one guy ended huging the toilet for a while, the other guy did also but fewer and said (with good experience on drugs) that he did feel alucinogenic effects and that we should do it again but not mixing it with condensed milk like we did.

    I want to add that in wikipedia it says that when dry they have a much higher potential alucinogenic effect. We took them as fresh as they come. Never tryed it again but going to do so after reading that dry comment on wikipedia.

  25. Dave1964

    This is a very tasty mushroom. I have eaten them dried with only minor hallucinatory effects. Just know what you are getting in to. I had an odd dream in a semi-sleeping state that I remember to this day. I was on the outside of a long wall of mullioned windows and there was a large party on the other side. Was I being given a glimpse of the “other side?” Later that night I awoke and needed to go to the bathroom. On the way there, I had the oddest sensation of being split into two beings – one lagging behind me as I walked and the conscious “me.” I now understand the meaning of this.

    You could probably boil these prior to drying and have some very tasty snacks without the enlightening effects…

  26. Eric Whitehead

    great post.
    I own a wild mushroom business. and have made a few videos on the same
    subject. I have harvested with David Aurora, and he has told me the same about boiling …throwing out the water and eating.
    I have truckload potential of them on a good porcini year.
    perhaps this will be the fall season to give it a try.
    I do suspect that within a few generations the fly agaric will
    become a well known and wellharvested wild mushroom.
    certianly safer than many foods we put into our bodies I would say.
    thanks again.
    Eric Whitehead.

  27. crazy guy

    i took 2 large dried caps, grinded them up in a blender then mix with apple sauce, took about an hour to kick in, it made me feel delirious, like going to the fridge to get a drink of water was really hard, cause first of all you have no sence of time, i had no idea if i just got done drinking the water or if i havnt got up to get it, it felt like i was in every room of the house at the same time, it wasnt fun, but at the same time im glad i tried can order dry caps off boucing bear.

  28. Lindberg

    Also skip beer, soda or other carbonated stuff if there are any of the “fun” chemicals left (muscimol); disappears when heated over ~100 celsius.. It might then be converted to ibotenic acid (not good) disappears over ~60 celsius or something like that.

  29. anthony

    Are there deadly looka likes of the yellow/orange Amanita?

  30. Carlos C

    Gotta try this this week. Its amanita’s season right now in Colombia!!! I’ll boil them 3 or 4 times. As you said: better be safe than sorry.

  31. Ed Varney

    I cut my Amanitas into slices and dried them. I dried them in the sun and after a day or so there were some maggots on them which i brushed off. After they were dry, I ate a small piece and waited. The mushroom spoke to me and told me it was ok to eat another piece. After that I simply waited for the mushroom to tell me how much I could eat and I enjoyed the high. I did learn that some specific amanitas have different amounts of magic – and too much could make you feel queasy.

  32. Carlos C

    Just ate them as I said. Simply delicious! Tasty. I ate them butter fried as the blog suggested. Then I deep fried them. They tasted awesome.. Then I used an A. Caesarea recipe to make some pasta. As a result: an awesome experience. I cooked the A. Muscaria at least four times in the water (better safe than sorry). No regrets. A must try mushroom every year! e

  33. Jeff

    Fried a small cap in butter last night. Tasty. Boiled 4 large mushrooms, then cooked in butter as well. Yummy.

    Thanks for the article.

  34. Anna

    Further Reflections on Amanita muscaria as an Edible Species

  35. Michelle

    Where can u find the mushrooms? Are there any in the northwest? Can I buy them online?

  36. kathy

    I’m so excited to try this, I live near the mountains i New Mexico, where the “deadly” Amanita Muscaria are in abundance. Can’t wait for next summer when I be picking mushrooms everyone else passes by. Thanks!

  37. Amanita muscaria

    […] a credible write-up about eating Amanita on Hunter. Angler. Gardener. Cook., but it’s just not high on my list of things to […]

  38. Odyseas Macedon

    Hallo from north Greece! we do eat them after boiling for a while…my favorite recipe is frying them in olive oil with onions and adding at the end eggs and turmeric a great tasting omelette!
    i have heard of a story though that happened during 2nd world war at the forest next to my home, a group of partisans ate lots off them, cause of starving and they ended up killing each other… its recorded officially by doctors. Maybe they combined it with wine or with pantherine …

  39. Angus

    This mushroom is indeed ‘psychedelic’, at larger doses (i.e. 1, 2, 3 + full dried caps), but at slightly more moderate doses, after proper drying (and smoking/singeing to kill any bugs therein before the drying process), say, a piece the size of a US quarter, or even two quarters, steeped in cold water for 30 minutes, gives something more of a tonic effect, such as experienced by a larger dose of ginseng, but with its own very distinct character. You can, of course, boil off the chemical muscimol, and they are delicious tasting as a simple mushroom, but why miss out on the energy aspect of this beautiful herb? It’s a wonderful fungus for musical appreciation, as well as when lots of energy is needed to do some labor, but watch out! cause you might not know your own strength. Indeed, this mushroom can make us exaggerate movements in ways that we weren’t expecting, as well as give us physical hallucination, such as where you think you are holding on to something, but there is nothing there (such as, with holding a cigarette or joint). Again, this is mostly an issue at higher doses, and starting with a small, even homeopathic dose will give most people an idea of the character of the red Santa fungus. :)

  40. Peter

    Brilliant article.
    It reminds me of the old saying here in England- ”
    “ALL Mushrooms are edible. But some of them only ONCE !”

  41. Jake Sebastian

    Awesome Article and Comments!

    Where in California are the best places to hunt for the these mushrooms? I live in LA.

  42. redd

    just got my hands on some and will be giving these a test. interested in both the spiritual and the culinary experiences. if i can remember to come back i will definitely give my analysis of these beauties. I live in the NE US and coniferous trees are EVERYWHERE, however i have not seen these in my lifetime growing wild in my region. I will be taking specimens out and grinding them up and spreading them about in hopes that the spores will germinate a bountiful yield in time. If successful, i will become the “Johnny Appleseed” of fly agaric. lol! Wish us luck!

  43. Kadet Kat

    Hi! I did a small article about amanita muscaria and quoted you :) thanks for sharing your experience! I can’t wait to try some.

  44. Amanita Muscaria | An Artist's Guide to Mushrooms

    […] Now after reading they could be eaten, of course I want to try them! There is a lot of great information on how to prepare A. muscaria, most all coming down to about to same thing. Sourced from Honest Food: […]

  45. Mo

    When we tried them years ago, the smallest little bit was enough to send us over the rainbow for about 6 hours. VERY strongly dissociative! Unlike other magic shrooms which make things look smaller, Amanita magnifies things larger. Shades of Alice in wonderland? I was suddenly *seeing the secrets of the time/space continuum. Being the syllogistic forensic type, I tried to make notes, about 40 pages of gibberish that made perfect sense at the time. Went to the restroom, what a mistake (mushroom kraps: feels like you need to, but you sit there forever and the tiniest thing comes out). While on the john, the roses in the wallpaper came to life…

    About 40 minutes later I came to my senses. Where was I? My face was pressed flat against the ground it seems, but no.. I was smashed into the wall. I’m certain that I had been trying to enter that rose garden.

    The amount we took was miniscule, about the size of the tip of your pencil. There is just no controlling that high, and unlike dung-shrooms, smoking some good weed did nothing. Usually it provides a life-raft so to speak, and leveled out the ups and downs of a trip, but Amanita was all UP, all the time! Other mushies make my legs feel like jello, and my joints ache. Not so with Amanita, although I didn’t take enough to feel the strength of the berserkers (nor their fury), I could sense the *strength they might be referring to, but just in the background.

    Same as any other trip though in the sense that I didn’t see stuff that wasn’t there. I never have! I just see stuff that is there in a different way. It breathes, there are halos of light, psychic experiences but no pink dragons, unicorns, fairies or the perfunctory visit from Jesus.

    I’d do it again but only as an experiment under certain circumstances. Otherwise I advise the kids DO NOT TOUCH THIS, even if you have a babysitter, they can’t do anything to talk you down. You are just… gone.

    You can see why the mystery cults had to tie their maenads up sometimes so they wouldn’t go batshit on everyone.

  46. Kari

    I know nothing about mushrooms at all. I live in the Black Hills of South Dakota and was walking in the forest with my dogs and saw this beautiful bright orange and white speckled mushroom. I had to google it, and came upon this site. It was a very interesting read. I won’t be harvesting any wild shrooms, but when I walk the forest and see them, I will think of all this interesting information, Alice, and all of you! Kari

  47. Scott

    We REALLY want to try these! We live close to Las Vegas, but can easily travel to surrounding states. Can anyone give us a location, (city/state), and a time of year when they grow? We promise not to pick them all! :)

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