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Seek Chanterelles in Summertime

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By Bruce Ingram | Apr 23, 2021

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Adobe Stock/Grzecorz Tartosz

For me, a recent summertime excursion to find chanterelles soon became a revelation. Every spring, I search for yellow and black morels and relish consuming them in a variety of dishes. But the members of the New River Valley Mushroom Club, my hosts for that June day, began our outing by expressing the same enthusiasm for finding – and especially consuming – summer chanterelles as I feel about morels. Had I been making a mistake by not continuing my mushroom foraging after morel season ended?

As the day’s events – and that night’s meal – unfolded, the answer to that question became a resounding yes.

Our first discovery was a concentration of black trumpets (Craterellus fallax), found in an oak and beech grove in the Virginia highlands. These mushrooms thrive throughout North America. If someone hadn’t stopped me, I would’ve walked right past these short (often under 3-1/2 inches), dark-brown or black fungi with vase-like caps and, as is common with many individual chanterelles, wavy margins. Their dark colors explain why these fungi blend in so well with the forest duff. Jeff Huffman, a Roanoke, Virginia, mushroom enthusiast, held up a black trumpet so my wife, Elaine, and I could inhale its distinctive fruity smell.

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Image Bruce Ingram

When you come across a new-to-you mushroom, ask an expert to identify it before you eat it.

Not long afterward, club members paused under some oaks after a member proclaimed, “Smooth chanterelles!” With their yellow caps, which can grow up to 5 inches in diameter, and their orange-to-yellow stalks, smooth chanterelles (C. lateritius) are much easier to spy than black trumpets. Smooth chanterelles boast a fragrant, fruity smell, sometimes compared to apricots. Smooth chanterelles live throughout northeast North America, thriving in urban and suburban areas as well as in mountain forests, like where we were.

The third family member we came across was the golden one, also known simply as “chanterelle” (C. cibarius). Huffman believes golden chanterelles are probably the most well-known and sought-after member of this family. It’s easy to understand why many gatherers consider them not just the best-tasting chanterelle family member, but also the choicest edible mushroom of any kind. Golden chanterelles feature an orange or yellow cap with an often wavy margin and a sunken center. They can grow up to 6 inches in diameter, so they’re easy to spot throughout their North American range. The orange-to-light-yellow stalk grows narrower as it descends – another trait that many chanterelle family members possess.

Huffman considers this trio to comprise the major chanterelles worth learning about among the family. Nevertheless, several other species rate a nod as well. Among them is the cinnabar-red chanterelle (C. cinnabarinus). The fungi fancier says that though the cinnabar is quite good to eat, it doesn’t achieve the same “choice” designation as the black trumpet, smooth, and golden varieties. Cinnabars feature tiny (often less than 2 inches wide), reddish-orange caps, with pink ridges and a light-red stalk. This species lives in eastern Canada and in the United States west to Indiana, often in oak groves.

mushrooms

Huffman lists Appalachian chanterelles (C. appalachiensis) as a worthwhile find as well. Despite its name, this species grows throughout eastern North America, typically in oak forests. The small (2 inches wide or less), slightly depressed, yellow-brown cap and short brown-to-yellow stem are characteristic.

Finally, chanterelle foragers should be aware that different types appear at different times, depending on region. For example, although the golden chanterelle is most likely to be found from June through September in the eastern half of the United States, folks in California come across them in late fall and winter.

Dangerous Lookalikes

Although searching for summer chanterelles is a sublime venture, in the world of fungi, there’s almost always a caveat. And one of those forewarnings is that inedible or even poisonous mushrooms sometimes look much like choice edibles.

“People sometimes confuse the golden chanterelle for the poisonous jack-o’-lantern mushroom,” Huffman says. “And it’s easy to understand why.”

Indeed, both fungi feature yellow-to-orange caps with descending stalks. The caps have a diameter of 6 inches or less for goldens, and 8 inches or less for jack-o’-lanterns (Omphalotus olearius), and many individual fungi of both species have caps between 4 and 5 inches. Important distinguishing differences between goldens and jacks include, respectively, smell (a fruity versus a foul odor), the habitat where they typically grow (on the ground versus on wood or buried wood), and their gills (blunt-edged versus sharp-edged). Also, chanterelles have white inner flesh, and jacks have orange or yellow inner flesh. All this leads me to several important suggestions about gathering mushrooms:

  • The first time you find a mushroom new to you, don’t assume you’ve identified it correctly until a knowledgeable person confirms the ID.
  • Invest in a quality field guide or multiple guides.
  • Eat only small quantities of any mushroom at first. Even edible fungi can cause internal distress for some.
  • Always save part of a mushroom variety you plan to eat. This could later aid someone in correctly identifying the fungi, in case you’ve misidentified it.
  • Join local mushroom clubs or go foraging with experienced individuals.
  • Never consume raw wild mushrooms, as intestinal distress is possible.
  • Generally, beware mushrooms with white gills; a ring (also known as a “veil”) around the stem; red spots on the cap; or a volva (cup-like structures at the base).
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Image Bruce Ingram

Wild Mushroom Cream Sauce

Wild Mushroom Cream SauceWe especially like this sauce over venison, though it will go well with any game or domestic meat. Yield: 2 servings.

Ingredients

  • 6 to 8 black trumpet chanterelles (or other chanterelles of your choice)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced green onion
  • 1/2 cup cream
  • Salt, to taste

Directions 

  1. Soak mushrooms in salted water to clean. This will eliminate any insects and wash away dirt. After soaking 15 minutes or so, rinse until water appears clear.
  2. In skillet, heat oil and butter on medium-low. When butter melts, add mushrooms and onions, stirring gently.
  3. Let vegetables cook for about 5 minutes, until slightly tender. Then, gradually pour cream over them, stirring continuously until heated through and slightly thickened, about 5 minutes.
  4. Salt to taste.
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Image Bruce Ingram

Wild Mushroom and Turkey Leg Burgers

Wild Mushroom and Turkey Leg Burgers

Yield: 4 servings.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 to 1 cup chanterelles (save some to stir-fry and place on top of burgers)
  • 1 pound ground wild turkey meat (other wild game or domestic meat will work just as well)
  • 2 tablespoons prepared yellow mustard
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 tablespoon butter
  • 4 buns, or 8 slices of bread
  • Toppings of your choice: sliced mild onion, cheese for melting, lettuce, sliced tomato (pickles or pungent onions could overwhelm the fruity flavor of chanterelles)

 Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 F.
  2. Soak mushrooms in salted water to clean for about 15 minutes, and then rinse until water appears clear.
  3. Chop half the mushrooms into pea-sized chunks. Slice the other half.
  4. Mix ground turkey with mustard, ketchup, and pea-sized mushroom bits. Shape into 4 equal-sized patties, and place on baking sheet.
  5. Place in oven and bake 20 minutes.
  6. While burgers are cooking, heat olive oil and butter in a skillet over medium-low heat. Add remaining sliced mushrooms and sauté about 5 minutes. Drain on paper towels.
  7. Place cooked burgers on bread of your choice. Top with desired toppings. We prefer sliced mild white onions and cheddar cheese. Finish burgers with a sprinkle of sautéed mushrooms.
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Image Bruce Ingram

Baked Eggs with Chanterelles

Baked Eggs with Chanterelles

Yield: 3 servings.

Ingredients

  • 2 green onions, sliced finely (use bulbs and stems)
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup chanterelles, cleaned
  • 1/3 cup grated cheese
  • 6 eggs
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
  • 3 tablespoons fresh chives

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. Soak mushrooms in salted water to clean for about 15 minutes, and then rinse until water appears clear.
  3. Grease 3 individual baking bowls. We use 12-ounce bowls that are oven-safe.
  4. Sprinkle green onion and mushrooms evenly into baking bowls. Sprinkle with grated cheese.
  5. In a separate bowl, combine eggs and milk, beating well. Add flour, salt, and pepper. Beat thoroughly.
  6. Pour mixture over contents in bowls. Top with a sprinkle of chives.
  7. Put filled bowls on a baking sheet and place in oven. Bake uncovered, 25 to 30 minutes, until center is done.
  8. Top with additional chives, if desired.

Bruce and Elaine Ingram are co-authors of the book Living the Locavore Lifestyle. To learn more, contact them at BruceIngramOutdoors@Gmail.com.


Recommended Resources


mushrooming with confidence

Improving on the standard exhaustive wild-plant guidebook, Mushrooming with Confidence is a slim, handy manual that focuses on the tastiest and most common mushrooms, so you can easily spot those that are not just safe to eat, but also a delight to cook and share!

This title is available at the Grit store or by calling 866-803-7096. Item #10165.


shitake log

This pack of 500 shiitake mushroom plugs makes an excellent gift for a beginning mushroom farmer or gardener who wants to start a diverse mushroom garden! Shiitakes are one of the easiest, most prolific, and most forgiving mushrooms to grow on logs, for all skill levels.

This product is available at the Grit store or by calling 866-803-7096. Item #8017.

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