July's Wild Food
The flowery fruit of the kingdom
Chanterelle is one of the most distinctively flavored mushrooms in all the world. It has
been described as having the aroma of apricots and tasting more like a flower then a
mushroom. There are several edible and delicious varieties but the one I will stick to
here, the Yellow or Golden Chanterelle (Cantharellus cibarius) is easy to
find because of its bright color and it's not hard to identify with a careful inspection.
Chanterelles are found in mixed woods, under conifers and oaks from Alaska to California
and Nova Scotia to Florida! Because of their wide distribution timing their arrival will
largely depend on when "Winter" ends in your area. Chanterelles will fruit
anytime from June to September depending on rainfall and temperature. The mushrooms
pictured above were picked on July 13th in upstate NY. The diagram below shows some keys
to proper identification.
(A) The cap is bright orange to yellow, smooth and hairless, becoming wavy at the edge of
the cap when mature. (B) The flesh is firm and white, tinged with yellow and smelling
slightly fruity, like apricots. The stem is not hollow. (C) The gills are thick and
similarly colored or lighter than the cap, often forking towards the edge of the cap. (D)
Make sure the gills run part way down the stem.
There are two mushrooms that could be
considered dangerous look alikes though neither
is deadly, The Jack O'Lantern (Omphalotus illudens) has thinner more crowded
gills and does not have white flesh, and the False Chanterelle (Hygrophoropsis
aurantiaca) which also has thinner gills which are more orange in color and a cap
which tends to be darker towards brown. As always if you aren't sure consult a field guide
or a trusted expert. Bottom line as always: when in doubt throw it out!
Recommended Field Guides:
Recipes: Simple Recipe for
with Chanterelles and Leeks
Mushroom Chili | This recipe for wild leeks works well with Chanterelles