On our first hike with the Western PA Mushroom Club we found many many mushrooms, including edible chanterelles!
Chanterelles are delicious mushrooms that in the east grow in the summertime (in the west, they are a fall/winter mushroom.)
Chanterelles are trumpet-shaped and have ridges or folds instead of gills (a gilled look-alike is the Jack O’Lantern, which is indigestible to us and will make people very sick.) The smooth chanterelle barely have ridges at all and instead have smooth sides.
Chanterelle smell vaguely of apricots. They also grow alone or possibly in twos or threes, but never in a whole bunch, as the Jack O’Lanterns often do. The Jack O’Lanterns (which glow in the dark) grow from dead wood (however this can be tricky, as they could be growing from a dead root underground) whereas the chanterelles grow from the soil (but can be right next to dead wood). They both grow in the woods, look for the egg-yolk colored chanterelles under the dead leaves lying on the ground. Finally, according to the book Mushrooms Demystified (amazon link), Jack O’Lanterns will never have white flesh.
It is often recommended to dry-saute the chanterelle first to let it release the water, then adding butter and a small amount of shallot (so as not to overwhelm the delicate taste of the chanterelle.)
We dry-fried once, but the other time we sauteed it in olive oil (it released it’s water fine), added some salt and garlic, and added back a bit of water as it cooked so the pan did not dry out. Delicious!
Chanterelles (like many wild mushrooms) need to be cooked at least 15 minutes to detoxify the mushroom, making it safe and digestible.
We learned not to refrigerate extra chanterelles – keep them in paper bags outside of refrigeration and they should last a couple weeks. When refrigerated, they will turn dark and slimy, releasing water into the bag.
We dehydrated chanterelles for future use. We sliced them thinly and laid them on the dehydrator tray (or you can put them in the oven at a low temperature.) We were told they reconstitute nicely.
Finally, we’ve heard you can preserve them in whiskey or scotch, soaking them in a jar with the alcohol for a month or so, then get rid of the chanterelle and the whiskey will become chanterelle-flavored. You can do this in vodka or wine as well, and then can add to cooking to infuse the dish with a chanterelle flavor.
Here is a recipe for the chanterelle omelet we made for Ella (she ate the whole thing!)
- One egg – cracked into a bowl and beaten with a splash of water
- 1 Tbsp red onion
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- 2 Tbsp grated pepper jack cheese
- 2 Tbsp sauteed (as above) chanterelles
- In a small pan over medium high heat, saute the onion in olive oil with salt about 5 minutes.
- Pour egg so it spreads over the bottom of pan and let it cook through until bubbles appear and it is no longer runny.
- Add the cheese and mushrooms to one half the egg, and fold the egg over in half, omelet style.
- Enjoy immediately.