When you hear “mulled wine,” I’m guessing you imagine something Christmas-y, cozy, and charming – I know I do. One of the last ingredients I would ever associate with this drink are mushrooms, though a new cookbook has figured out a way to infuse the boozy beverage with fungus.
Healing Mushrooms: A Practical and Culinary Guide to Using Adaptogenic Mushrooms for Whole Body Health includes a recipe for Mulled Mushroom Wine, created by the book’s author, Tero Isokauppila. The paleo, vegan, gluten-free, and low-fat recipe boasts an addition of “shroomy goodness to further alleviate any wintertime blues.” Whether you’re on a Gwyneth Paltrow-approved diet or are trying to get creative with your veggie intake, you can’t deny Isokauppila’s creativity.
The aforementioned ‘shroomy goodness comes in the form of chaga extract, a powdered form of mushroom that’s often used to make tea or coffee-like beverages. Isokauppila says that the extract adds an earthy flavor, but doesn’t have a hugely significant flavor impact on the mulled wine, which is seasoned with orange zest, cloves, cinnamon, apple juice, and allspice.
Mulled wine is one of those quintessential holiday drinks, dating back to 2nd century Rome. The original versions included many of the same ingredients as this new-age mushroom recipe, often with even more spices like ginger, nutmeg, marjoram, and rosemary.
So if not for flavor, why add mushrooms to the wine? “Chaga has antioxidant properties and can support immune function,” says Isokauppila. It’s also an anti-inflammatory, and has long held medicinal value in Russia and eastern Europe. In traditional folklore medicine of these regions, it’s used to prevent and treat cancer, a claim that laboratory and animal studies actually support. Chaga is also believed to protect the liver – so we’re going to go ahead and say that it cancels out the damaging effects of alcohol and makes this wine a health drink.
The extract is very difficult to make, since there’s a “dual extraction” process that maximizes the mushroom’s health benefits. You can purchase chaga extract at health food stores.
If mulled wine isn’t your thing, Healing Mushrooms offers a few other boozy concoctions featuring fungus. Use up any leftover chaga extract in a Kahlua Mushroom Coffee, or switch things up with cordyceps extract, a medicinal mushroom with anti-aging properties that Isokauppila says can make people frisky. You can use this extract in a mushroom-inspired twist on a Sex on the Beach or a paleo chocolate eggnog.