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Medicinal Mushroom Hot Cocoa with Red Belted Polypore

devon 9 Comments

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Medicinal Mushroom Hot Cocoa with Red Belted Polypore

Devon 9 Comments

Medicinal mushroom hot cocoa with red belted polypores nourishes, comforts and soothes with dark, earthy, and bittersweet flavors. This medicinal hot cocoa offers immunity and gastrointestinal health benefits.

There are certain times of year when I began to crave deep comfort and softness.  I crave deeply earthy flavors – dark, bitter and faintly sweet.  I crave subtle flavor dimension and nuance…

These quieter textural and flavor experiences are not terribly common in society where food buzz words include “bold” and “shocking”.  “Bigger is better” and maybe that is just the way of things today.  But when the weather grows colder and the days shorter, I find myself spending more time developing a greater experience with the food and drinks that I consume.  And such is the case with this medicinal mushroom hot cocoa

The Pacific Northwest is a mycological wonderland.  Our damp climate, dense forest and diverse elevations give rise to fascinating forest ecology.  Four seasons of fungal fun for those so inspired.  Earlier this year my husband and I spent an extended weekend exploring the Cascades.  I set out with camera and field guide in hand, but to be honest I was hoping to find some Oregon reishi (Ganoderma oregonense).  Alas, no reishi.  What we did find, in awe inspiring abundance, was the glorious red belted polypore and I knew at once that I would be making medicinal mushroom hot cocoa.

Red Belted Polypore Identification

Red Belted Polypore

The red belted polypore (Fomitopsis pinicola) is a shelf fungus common to dead and dying Douglas fir and hemlocks in the Pacific Northwest. The top of this perennial fungus often has black/brown, orange/red, and cream colored bands (though size, margin and intensity of color may change with maturity) that may appear somewhat shiny, although not “varnished” like we observe with reishi.  The underbelly of this polypore (which you may also see referred to as a “conk”) is a creamy white, not terribly susceptible to bruising, and sometimes “sweats” fruity tasting exudate in a process called guttation associated with periods of rapid growth. Red belted polypores can often be gently pried away from its deacying host, usually coming away intact – though probably stippled with firmly embedded conifer needles.

This fungus is inedible in its natural state, for all practical purposes.  With a texture and fibrous quality not unlike press board, this polypore does not lend itself to easy preparation.  After cleaning my polypore harvest, I meet my husband at the intersection of foraging and carpentry, and we use a dedicated band saw blade to carefully break the fungus into strips.  I then cut these woody strips into small cubes which I reduce to a fluffy sponge-like powder in a coffee grinder.

Red Belted Polypore Energetics and Medicinal Benefits

Medicinal Mushroom Hot Cocoa

Red belted polypores are slightly “sweet” and tonic in action.  Keep in mind, in flavor energetics do not necessarily equate “sweetness” to standard sugary sweetness.   It’s far more bitter than sweet, not unlike extremely dark chocolate.  The profound polysaccharide content deserves the credit for subtle perception of sweetness.  Red belted polypore have a rich medicinal tradition with Native peoples. Ground polypore has stypic action to attenuate wound bleeding, and was as a purgative (in large amounts) for ritual cleansing and purification.  Considered a digestive tonic, this mushroom is thought to relieve inflammation of gastrointestinal tissues.  Red belted polypore is also indicated for immune system stimulation and antihistamine qualities. Some animal model studies have even indicated that this polypore may have some anti-cancer potential.

Upon learning about the digestive tonic aspects of the red belted polypore and observing its uniquely bittersweet flavor, it seemed the ideal choice for a medicinal mushroom hot cocoa.  This polypore combined with raw cacao powder, soothing marshmallow, comforting cinnamon, and nourishing slippery elm serve as nutritive, chocolaty elixir perfect for sipping on cold days.  Simmered low and slow, for approximately 30 minutes, healing polysaccharides are extracted from the red belted polypore.  If red belted polypores are not available in your area, chaga, reishi, cordyceps, artist’s conk and turkey tail are all suitable substitutions, bringing their own unique favor and medicinal qualities to the resulting cocoa.

FDA Disclosure

I am a trained herbalist with a degree in Complementary and Alternative Medicine, I am not, however, a doctor. Posts in this blog are for informational purposes only and should not be construed as medical advice. Before using any herbs, check for appropriate dosage, drug interactions, and contraindications. Information contained herein is not intended to treat, diagnose, cure or prescribe. Please consult your primary care physician regarding your specific health concerns.

Red Belted Polypore

This medicinal mushroom hot cocoa is as distinctive as it is subtle and comforting. It is velvety and rich, without overpowering the senses with any particular flavor.  The cacao and polypore read especially earthy and dark on the palate. The lasting sensation after consumption is one of thoughtful satisfaction and visceral calm.

Learn how to make a dual extraction tincture from red belted polypore in this post.

Interested in learning more about common wild medicinal plants?  Check out my new book The Backyard Herbal Apothecary!

NOTE: The stunning bark inspired cup, saucer and spoon featured here are by my friend and forest maven, Betsy Hinze.  Wondersmith and artist, Betsy creates unique, nature inspired ceramic and glass artifacts available for purchase during select times of year.  Betsy created this collection as homage to the forest after fire.  Before human interventions, fire itself was a vital part of the health of a forest, restoring balance to the ecosystem.  To view Betsy’s current collection and learn more about her truly magical sensory events, please visit her website.

Medicinal Mushroom Hot Cocoa with Red Belted Polypore Recipe

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5 from 1 vote

Medicinal Mushroom Hot Cocoa with Red Belted Polypore

Dark, earthy and chocolaty, the subtle flavors of this medicinal mushroom hot cocoa are comforting and nourishing. Left unsweetened to so that one can adjust to personal preferences.
Author: Devon


  • 8 oz raw cacao powder
  • 1 oz red belted polypore ground (or substitute medicinal mushroom of your choice)
  • 1 oz ground cinnamon
  • ½ oz slippery elm
  • ½ oz marshmallow root


  • Combine all ingredients and store in an airtight jar. Store in a cool, dark and dry spot.
  • To prepare, simmer a heaping tablespoon of the mix in 8-10oz of a milk of your choice on low heat for approximately 30 minutes. Due to the "spongy" nature of the polypore once rehyrated, I find that the hot cocoa is best pressed through a "French press" before serving. Alternatively, it can be passed through a fine mesh sieve. Sweeten to taste and serve.

Medicinal Mushroom Hot Cocoa


Rogers, R. D. (2011). The fungal pharmacy: The complete guide to medicinal mushrooms and lichens of North America. Berkeley, CA: North Atlantic Books.

Devon is a writer and author on subjects of holistic and sustainable living. She has a degree in Complementary and Alternative Medicine from the American College of Healthcare Sciences, and her first book, The Backyard Herbal Apothecary, was published by Page Street Publishing in Spring 2019. Devon's work outside of can be seen at,,, and in the magazine The Backwoods Home. Devon's second book, The Herbalist's Healing Kitchen, will be published Fall 2019.

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  • Emily December 14, 2016 at 1:16 pm

    Where did you buy the cup saucer and spoon in the picture its amazing !

    • Devon December 14, 2016 at 3:54 pm

      Thanks for visiting the blog! Isn’t the set amazing?! The cup, saucer and spoon set are by my friend Betsy Hinze. There is a link at the end of my post for her website. These cups are currently available for sale, but for how much longer I am not sure!

  • Olivia April 2, 2017 at 2:36 am

    How long do you think this mixture will store for? Thank you for the recipe

    • Devon April 2, 2017 at 4:09 pm

      Hi Olivia! I think that if the mixture is stored in a cool, dry and dark place you would have about a year… As a rule of thumb I generally only keep ground herbs for about a year as they degrade faster once ground.

  • Alexandra Gergely October 22, 2017 at 8:20 pm


    I just harvest a big Fomitopsis pinicola from our Transylvanian mountains (Romania Country).
    Tell me please, if I didn’t have a grinder to make it in small pieces as you said, do you think is a good idea just to cut it in pieces using a knife ( I hope I will succeed will a good one, even if the mushrooms is really woody)? And then, I need to dry it before putting it into a jar? And, if yes, how and for how long I need to dry it? Thanks a lot!

  • Pamela Caldwell February 10, 2018 at 10:55 pm

    Yum, looks so good. Your friends link for the cup and saucer is not an active link, its asking for a password.

  • Alora May 6, 2019 at 9:50 pm

    How do you prepare the ground mushrooms?

  • Tammy Kattner June 13, 2019 at 12:19 am

    Is this recipe safe for children? I do give my kids Chaga, but I was checking on slippery elm & marshmallow root. Thank you. Love your site 🙂

  • Amber Smith October 18, 2020 at 2:23 am

    5 stars
    I as confused on whether or not the mushroom was ground and dried before the recipe or can be made from fresh? It ground up into a nice sawdust from fresh but I imagine I should let it sit out and dry before trying to store it? Thanks for the recipe 🙂

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    About Me

    About Me

    Meet the Nitty Gritty Mama, Devon!

    I am an herbalist, farmer, cook, and forager. I get my hands dirty and am not afraid to do things the "hard way". Sharing my Nitty Gritty Life with you! Read More



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