Witches’ Butter

By Collin Murray

Witches’ butter, scientifically named Tremella mesenterica, is commonly known as golden jelly fungus, yellow brain fungus, or tripe fungus. It is a small, yellow, gelatinous mushroom that can be found sprouted out of softwood logs year round throughout most of North America, Europe, Northern Africa, and Asia. The interesting blob is edible, and has many medicinal applications. Witches’ butter has been used throughout Asia for centuries for its ability to improve circulation and respiration. Studies have also shown the mushroom to have antitumor, antioxidative, and antiallergenic properties. 

There is little to no debate over witches’ butter being edible, however there is much controversy over whether the plant can be eaten raw. It is commonly known as the “survival mushroom” due to it being available to forage all year, and some feel comfortable pulling the plant off a log and eating it right then and there—though as a general rule of thumb, one should always cook any mushrooms to be eaten. As far as taste goes, there is not much there, though there is said to be a cooling sensation present, similar to that of Vicks Vapor Rub. Witches’ butter also has many culinary applications, including being added to soups for texture, and even frying mushroom in breadcrumbs until it is crispy and topping with cajun seasoning. “I am a big fan of witches’ butter!” says Senior Madeleine Stiffler. Many seem to agree with Madeleine: witches’ butter is clearly a fan favorite between chefs, doctors, and foragers alike.