Cantharellus cibarius

AKA the golden chanterelle

The time is upon us for the coming of the golden chanterelle, perhaps the most prized of the edible wild mushrooms. Search the moist forests for the egg yolk yellow caps growing on the forest floor (not on wood). The cap has a wavy inrolled margin with a depressed center. The odor is from subtle nothingness to fragrant apricot. This chanterelle appears to have gills, but a brief look through a hand lens will show them to be blunt rounded ridges rather than knife blade-like gills.

Make sure you know the poisonous Jack O’lantern, make a mistake here and you’ll have a gastric upset that you’ll remember the rest of you life. The Jack O’lantern grows on wood (sometimes buried roots) in clusters (although I have seen single caps). 

You mat also encounter C. latericius (smooth chanterelle) and C. odoratus (fragrant chanterelle). Both are choice edibles as well. These are the large chanterelles of our area. There are many species of smaller chanterelles, but most (with a few exceptions) are not known edibles.

Go out with experienced folks and learn the chanterelles. They can fruit in large quantities and often enough can be found to preserve for a later date. I find two methods of preservation acceptable:

1. duxelles, finely chopped, sautéed in butter and frozen

2. or much more preferable, pressure canned (I have eaten 2 year old canned chanterelles that were as good as fresh). Clean, chop and steam until well wilted. Pack loosely into sterile pint or ½ pint jars. Add a tiny pinch of salt and the steaming liquid and/or water. Screw on the lids, but not too tightly and process @ 10 pounds pressure for 10 minutes.

Try this for your mid winter depression: Thaw a package of frozen spinach, open a pint of canned chanterelles and chop a shallot. Sauté in good olive oil with a pinch of salt and pepper and some freshly grated nutmeg. Toss with your favorite pasta that you were thoughtful enough to have prepared ahead of time. Grate on some of your favorite hard cheese, pour a glass of wine and remember it won’t be long until chanterelle time again.

Steve Peek
Field mycologist and long standing member of the Asheville Mushroom 

(Images by: Tradd Cotter)

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