Facts and Identification about Chanterelles
In this Chanterelle Foraging Guide, you will learn about the popular, sought-after, wild mushroom called chanterelle. You will learn how to identify chanterelles, get to know how to properly clean, store, and preserve them, learn about their health benefits and habitat, and at the end of the blog post, you will find inspiration on how to cook with chanterelles including links to our chanterelle recipes.
Cantharellus cibarius, commonly known as the chanterelle, golden chanterelle, or girolle is a tasty, firm, edible wild mushroom. It can be identified on its funnel-shaped cap and its light yellow to orange color. Underneath the cap, it has gill-like ridges and it often has a wavy cap edge. Chanterelles are solid from stem to cap, and are therefore not hollow.
Chanterelles are among the world’s most popular mushrooms to forage since they have a delicate taste and are pretty easy to identify. Chanterelles are therefore also great mushrooms for beginners to start foraging for.
Chanterelles – Edibility, Taste, and Smell
Chanterelle mushrooms are considered excellent edible mushrooms. Chanterelles are, compared to other mushrooms, very rarely colonized by larvae, slugs, and other insects which make them even more attractive to foragers. Both the stems and caps of the chanterelles can be eaten.
Chanterelles are firm, textured mushrooms, with a delicate mildly peppery taste. Some people would say that they also have a faintly sweet and lightly fruity flavor and an apricot scent.
Chanterelles are not typically eaten raw because of their bitter taste, which is also why insects avoid eating chanterelles. Instead, their rich flavor appears when they are cooked and can be used in many dishes. Chanterelles are especially great in sauces, stews, soups, and as a topping on pizzas.
In Northern Europe, chanterelles appear from June till November but their prime time is in August. Depending on your geographical area, the chanterelle season may differ. It is always important to check when it has been raining; if it has been dry for a long time, you will most likely not find any chanterelles.
Where to Look For Chanterelles (Habitat)
At the beginning of the season, it is best to look for chanterelle mushrooms in nutrient-poor deciduous forests. Later in the season, you should head into nutrient-poor coniferous forests instead. In general, it is best to seek out places where the terrain is hilly and overgrown with i.a. heather and various moss species.
Chanterelles are mycorrhizal, which means they form a symbiotic relationship with the roots of trees. You will therefore often find chanterelles growing directly on the forest floor under beech, oak, birch, spruce, and scots pine.
Chanterelles can typically be found in forests on the edges of paths or on forest floor that has been disturbed e.g. by a tractor. When you have found one chanterelle or a whole group, it is very likely that there are more chanterelles around that area. So watch your steps and look for more chanterelles!
Cleaning, Storing and Preserving Chanterelles
When you are lucky to find chanterelles, make sure to cut off the root directly at the finding spot of the mushroom, and brush it clean using a relatively hard brush to remove any soil and other impurities before placing them in a basket.
On the mushroom hunt, the harvested and cleaned chanterelles are best stored in an airy basket, covered with loose cloth to reduce the evaporation from the mushrooms. Immediately after returning home, place the chanterelles in a similar way in the fridge for up to one week before cooking the mushrooms.
Chanterelles are not particularly suitable for drying since they are not hollow and do not rehydrate well. They will lose a lot of flavors and this is therefore not recommended.
The best way to preserve chanterelles is by freezing them after they have been cleaned and cooked. You can either do that by sauteing in butter or oil or dry sauteing and afterward freeze them. You can also pickle the mushrooms and in that way preserve them.
Chanterelle Health Benefits
Chanterelles are some of the mushrooms with the highest content of natural vitamin D and even after cooking, a very large part of it is preserved. Vitamin D has shown to be able to prevent several diseases and is important for the immune system.
At the same time, chanterelles have a high content of dietary fiber that benefits your digestion. In addition, chanterelles have a high content of vitamin C and potassium, which is important to prevent high blood pressure.
There are many ways of cooking with chanterelle mushrooms. Probably the most common way is to sautee the chanterelles in a generous amount of butter over medium-high heat for about 5-10 minutes, season with salt and pepper, and serve on toasted bread. Chanterelles can take quite a lot of heat, and they are allowed to take a bit of color.
Creamy Chanterelle Wine Sauce
One of my favorite recipes with chanterelles is by making them into a sauce and serve it on grilled cod. The sauce can also be served on meat, potatoes, or rice. You can find the creamy chanterelle wine sauce recipe here.
Chanterelles and Eggs
Chanterelles are perfect as a breakfast. You can make an omelette with cheese and cherry tomatoes and have a great start to your day. Find the chanterelle omelette recipe here.
Chanterelle as a Soup Topping
Chanterelles are also great as a topping on soups – try for example to make this creamy jerusalem artichoke soup with butter-fried chanterelles.
Happy chanterelle foraging and Bon Appétit!