Psychedelic mushrooms are synonymous with summer. There's just something about the effervescence of never-ending heat and sunshine that inspires us to be one with nature via tripping our balls off.
But even some of the most experienced psychonauts make their disdain for munching on shrooms known—and to be fair, it is akin to chewing a mouthful of dirt-laced sawdust. Compounded with the fact that some people feel nauseated and see visions of themselves puking up internal organs or regurgitating maggots, it's understandable why some aren't keen on stomaching magic mushrooms. Using them as pizza toppings or sticking them in a peanut butter and jelly sandwich are two common ways of covering up its unpleasant texture and taste, but if you're ambitious enough in the kitchen, there is another way.
Considering that some the most prized mushrooms that chefs seek out—porcini, morel, chanterelle—are often dehydrated, like those you pick up from your friendly neighbourhood dealer, we figured there must be a way to elevate the usually unpleasant taste of shrooms as the highlight of a meal. After years of munching on dried shrooms like plebs, we would embark on an attempt to employ our home-cooking skills in creating a refined version of ingesting psychedelics.
Shroom potency can vary depending on your source and the specific strain, so the safest starting point is about a gram per person. Ego death, wherein you mentally lose your sense of self, is a very serious possibility if you ingest too much, regardless of how sophisticated your shroom-eating technique is. You could be enjoying no more than three grams of shrooms chased with a spoonful of foie gras—as our friend did last week—and two hours later find yourself in a mind-loop, on the brink of seeing god.
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When rehydrating shrooms, Kyle Wyatt, head chef of Craft Paper Catering in Toronto, says that it's important to consider the time, temperature, and type of liquid you drop the shrooms in. For example, if you reconstitute the shrooms in water, some of the psilocybin—the psychoactive compound in shrooms—will seep out and into the liquid.
"The hotter the liquid, the faster the extraction tends to go. Warmer liquids seem to give a slightly less firm texture to the mushrooms. The best way is to hydrate them for 20 to 30 minutes until they roughly triple in size," says Wyatt, who hasn't cooked with the psychedelic variety (though he has made tea), but regularly cooks with non-psychedelic dehydrated mushrooms for soups and risottos.
Keeping this advice in mind, we knew to ensure the most amount of psilocybin possible would make it into our dishes, we would have to somehow incorporate the liquid we used to rehydrated the shrooms. We set out on our first dish: magic mushroom risotto. Using an altered version of a recipe found on a totally legit site, we used hot vegetable stock to rehydrate the mushies.
We also made sure someone was always stirring the rice and psilocybin-infused stock during the cooking process (about 30 minutes over medium heat). Constant stirring is key for risotto: this activates the starches and ensures that beautiful creamy texture. When it was almost complete, we turned the temperature down and added the rehydrated shrooms with the small amount of stock we had them in. Finally, we added a fuck-ton of freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. The dish was so cheesy and velvety—and we were surprised to find the taste of the rehydrated shrooms actually complemented the dish—that we had to stop ourselves from eating too much so we wouldn't trip our faces off. Twenty-five minutes after a few spoonfuls of our shrooms risotto, objects around us looked like they were breathing.
Feeling all kinds of confidence after a successful trippy risotto, we decided to experiment further with an appetizer and dessert to complete our shroomy trifecta. However, we don't suggest that you should eat all three dishes containing psychedelics in the same day using the amounts we did—unless, of course, you appropriately cut down the amount of shrooms used in each. Otherwise, you might find yourself in another universe communicating with otherworldly beings. We spaced out the devouring of each of these recipes over the course of a week.
For the quiche, we used a homemade recipe that incorporated kale, red onion, Bergeron cheese, and mini pie shells. We microwaved a half-cup of milk for just under a minute and then added four grams of our dried mushrooms to rehydrate them. After letting them steep for 15 minutes, we added the shrooms to a mixing bowl already containing the eggs and vegetables. After baking it for 25 minutes, the pie crust had just the right golden brown and its flaky texture contrasted well with the delicately layered egg filling. Two of these savoury morsels were enough for the right body buzz and head trip.
But you don't always have to fuss with an oven if you want to make shroom food. The simple yet refined no-bake mushroom-infused chocolate cookies may be your best option if you aren't interested in the taste of shrooms but want its effects. All you need is one large sauce pan to mix in all your ingredients over medium heat. We also added chopped dark chocolate and a cup of marshmallows to really mask the shroomy flavour. Just make sure you grind the shrooms: smaller pieces ensure even distribution within the mixture. After just two cookies that were filled with oats and rich chocolatey-peanut butter goodness, we went outside to find technicolour-reflecting trees and grass appearing to move in symbolic synchronization.
It was safe to say that by the time we were on our third and final experiment, we had grown temporarily tired of exploring the caverns of our minds. But we can also say with conviction that we will likely only eat magic mushrooms going forward if they're incorporated into food since we didn't see any significant decrease in potency (we also tried them dry on a separate day over the course of the week to compare). There's really no reason to choke down a mouthful of dirt-laced sawdust if you can opt to transform it into something delicious.