Chanterelle mushrooms are one of the best (if not THE best) edible mushrooms of the summer. They taste great and are relatively easy to find, making them a fun species to stumble upon during summer hikes. They come in a variety of colors including red, black, and yellow. The yellow chanterelles (cantharellus cibarius) are the most commonly harvested of all the chanterelles. Red Chanterelles (cantharellus cinnabarinus) are much smaller than their yellow counterparts so you’ll need to find a lot of them if you want a decent meal. Black Chanterelles (cantharellus cornucopioides), or Horn of Plenty are also a very popular choice edible mushroom but due to their dark coloration many foragers have a hard time finding them.
How to Identify Chanterelles?
Identifying yellow chanterelles is pretty simple as they only have one notable lookalike, the jack-o-lantern mushroom. While it might not be lethal, the jack-o-lantern mushroom is poisonous. So take the highest precautions when foraging for chanterelle mushrooms. An easy way to distinguish between the two is the gills. Jack-o-lantern’s have true gills and will flake apart easily when touched while chanterelles have ridges which are sturdier and won’t break as easily. Jack-o-lantern mushrooms grow in large clusters where as chanterelle mushrooms grow spread out from each other. Though you will occasionally find chanterelle mushrooms growing in small groups of three to four.
Where to Find Chanterelles?
The best place to look for chanterelles is in low lying washout areas of hardwood forests. Timing your searches properly is absolutely crucial for finding chanterelles. Chanterelle mushrooms need rainfall to grow. So going out foraging when there hasn’t been any rain will leave you disappointed. The best time to go looking for chanterelles is 2-3 days after a heavy rain period. This gives the mushrooms enough time to grow but you still get to them before they begin to rot. Typically you can find chanterelles for around two weeks after a big rainfall.
My personal foraging strategy for chanterelle mushrooms is to cover as much ground as possible. Because of their bright colors chanterelles will sort of pop out at you as you hike through the woods. I find that I have the most success when I walk at a brisk pace while scanning the ground for any bright colors.
How Do I Cook Chanterelles?
Like many other mushrooms, chanterelles are chock full of moisture. This is important to work around in the cooking process. So before you add any other ingredients to your mushrooms put them in a pan and cook on medium-high heat until much of the moisture has left the chanterelles. After that you can add your butter or olive oil (I personally prefer butter). Many people like to cook their chanterelle mushrooms with fresh garlic. I recommend trying both since they both taste great.
Popular food pairings for chanterelles are pasta, omelettes, and steak. Try out some new combinations and let us know how they went in the comments below!
REMINDER: Eating wild mushrooms can be dangerous. Always double-check your mushroom ID with a expert before consuming. If you aren’t 100% sure about the ID then DO NOT eat it!