If you are reading this, you probably have at least a passing familiarity with chaga. A mushroom harvested from the far northern reaches of the world and used as a folk remedy by indigenous peoples for generations, chaga has been scientifically shown to have a whole host of benefits, from improving immune system strength, combating cancer, reversing aging, and much more. If you’re interested in purchasing chaga, you might be wondering how long it lasts before it goes bad and needs to be replaced.
The answer is quite a long time. Stored properly, chaga chunks and powder will stay fresh for months or longer, allowing you to build up a stash of chaga that will last you as long as you need. Here is a guide to storing chaga so it lasts as long as possible.
How Long Does Chaga Last?
While dried chaga may have the consistency of wood or sawdust, it’s important to remember that it is a fungi and thus a living being, and as such will eventually degrade or go bad in the way that all organic material eventually decomposes. Chaga mushrooms will slowly die when severed from their host trees, from which they leech the resources that both keep them alive and give them the nutritional content that makes consuming them worthwhile.
Before storing or using chaga, it should be dried to remove any excess moisture. If you purchase chaga from a vendor, they will dry it for you prior to shipping, but if you collect your own chaga, you can dry out the chaga chunks by leaving them in the sun, using an oven, or other various household methods. Drying chaga is important because moisture attracts mold, and moldy chaga is unsafe to consume.
A large part of chaga’s longevity depends on how it is stored. Chaga should be kept in an airtight container in a cool, dry place. Exposure to sunshine, air, humidity, and other contaminants can affect the quality of your chaga. Additionally, some insects are attracted to chaga, so you don’t want bugs eating it before you can enjoy it. If you want to store chaga for the long-haul, consider vacuum-sealing it to minimize the chance of outside contamination.
Another way to prolong the life of your chaga is to freeze it. Storing chaga in a freezer will insulate it against sun, heat, insects, and other contaminants. However, there is some debate in the chaga community over this issue, with some users claiming that long-term freezing harms chaga’s nutritional value. Keep that in mind if you are planning on freezing your chaga.
Stored properly, chaga has a shelf life of one to two years. This assumes that the chaga is dried before use and is stored using the above recommendations. Chaga vendors will typically include a “best by” date on packages indicating when it will expire. If you are harvesting chaga yourself, you will need to remember when you collected it and write the expiration date down yourself.
Note that consuming expired chaga will not necessarily make you sick or cause other health problems. However, expired chaga lacks nutritional content, so consuming it is pointless. Additionally, because everyone’s body is different, you may react to expired chaga differently than other people. This is why it is important to store chaga properly and to not consume chaga that has expired.
Ideal storage containers for chaga include glass jars and Tupperware containers. Ball jars are a good way to store chaga for the long haul since they can be vacuum-sealed. If you’re not freezing your chaga, the best place to store it is in a pantry or cupboard. Avoid sun exposure and other contaminants. Additionally, if you are reusing chaga chunks to make tea, keep reused chunks separate from unused ones.
Finally, one way to extend the life of your chaga is to create a double extraction tincture. While time-consuming, tinctures can last for several years, and you need a far smaller amount of tincture to benefit from chaga’s effects compared to other chaga recipes. Creating a chaga tincture can help you extract the maximum value from your chaga.
As a fungi, chaga has an expiration date, and consuming expired chaga could be hazardous to your health. Fortunately, chaga can last for a year or more if stored under ideal conditions. It’s likely that you have the means to store chaga already lying around your house. Improperly stored chaga will have a shorter shelf life then chaga that is stored correctly, so it’s incumbent on you to safeguard your chaga supply.
If you store your chaga in the right way, you can build up a stash of it that will last you for a long time to come. Chaga is one of the most miraculous foods in the world, and you owe it to yourself to try it out.