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Witch's butterWitch's Butter (Tremellus spp.) Info
This jelly fungus grows on old logs and when fresh is like gelatin.  In Eastern Europe, it was believed that people who found this herb growing on their gate had been targeted by a witch, and that the only way to get the hex off was to poke holes in the witch's butter until it died. Better the butter than the witch, but what a waste!  This beautiful herb is extremely helpful to human beings, fortifying yin and calming excessive unruly yang.  It is one of the most used beautifying herbs in China and makes the skin soft and moist if it's eaten daily. It doesn't look like much in the photo, but in person, this dried fungus has a flowery delicacy but is tough, which combined with the yin and the skin effects says Venus. Since fungus is usually considered of  Earth, it seems this herb is Earth of Venus.  It is totally safe to consume.  Just cut up and soak in hot water for 5-10 minutes and it will expand 3-4 times in size.  Add to the liquid a bit of sugar, which is said to activate the herb's ability to strengthen yin, and eat.  Or you can treat it like a regular vegetable, rehydrating and then adding only at the last few moments of cooking to soup. When it rehydrates, it becomes oddly "crunchy" in a way unfamiliar to the Western palate--unless you've ever had black wood ear fungus as part of a meal at a Chinese restaurant.  It has a faintly sweet taste.  It is also tonifying to the lungs and is frequently used for bronchitis, in keeping with its airy structure when dried, and studies have shown it to be highly protective against new growths in cases of cancer.  This herb makes you feel good just to look at it. It is sulfur free and grown in China.

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2004, 2014 Harold A. Roth; No reproduction without permission