Cantharellus is a genus of popular edible mushrooms, commonly known as chanterelles. They are mycorrhizal fungi, meaning they form symbiotic associations with plants, making them very difficult to cultivate. Caution must be used when identifying chanterelles for consumption due to lookalikes, such as the Jack-O-Lantern (Omphalotus olearius), which can make a person very ill. Despite this, chanterelles are one of the most recognized groups of edible mushrooms and can be found in Asia, Europe, North America and Australia.
The genus Cantharellus contains many species known generally as chanterelles. The following are just a few examples of the more popular edible species:
- C. cibarius: The best known species of this genus is the golden chanterelle, which is orange or yellow, meaty and funnel-shaped. On the lower surface, underneath the smooth cap, it has gill-like ridges that run almost all the way down its stipe, which tapers down seamlessly from the cap. It has a fruity smell and a mildly peppery taste, and is considered an excellent food mushroom. The European girolle, a variant of C. cibarius, has a thicker stalk and stronger flavor.
- C. formosus: The Pacific golden chanterelle has recently been recognized as a separate species from the golden chanterelle. It forms a mycorrhizal association with the Douglas-fir and Sitka spruce forests of California and the Pacific Northwest of North America. This chanterelle has been designated Oregon's state mushroom, due to its economic value and abundance.
- C. subalbidus: The White chanterelle is also found in western North America, and looks like the golden chanterelle except for its off-white color and more robust stalk. It is found in lesser numbers than the golden chanterelle, but can otherwise be treated like its yellow cousins; some believe the flavor is superior.
|ridges on hymenium|
|cap is infundibuliform|
|hymenium attachment is irregular or not applicable|
|stipe is bare|
|spore print is yellow|
|ecology is mycorrhizal|
Use in food
Chanterelles in general go well with eggs, curry, chicken, pork, fish, beef and veal, can be used as toppings on pizzas, be stewed, marinated, sauteed, or used as filling for stuffed crêpes. Of course these are just examples; chanterelles are versatile and can be added as an ingredient to most dishes.
Many mushroom enthusiasts just like chanterelles sauteed in butter, with a pinch of salt, a clove of fresh crushed garlic and some whipping cream. This recipe is said to bring out the subtle flavor of the chanterelle without masking it with other aromas. This recipe has the added benefit of retaining flavor even after being stored frozen.
Preparation and storage
Since the mushrooms hold a lot of water, they are often prepared using a "dry sauté" method: after cleaning, the mushrooms are sliced and put in a covered pan over high heat with no oil or butter. The mushrooms then release much of their water, which can be allowed to boil off or be poured off and used as a stock.
Chanterelles can also be pickled in brine. Salted water is brought to a boil and pickling spices such as peppercorns, mustard seeds, and thyme are added. The mushrooms are then cooked in this solution for 5–10 minutes before being transferred to sterilized bottles along with some of the liquid. Sliced garlic and dill can be added to the bottles for extra flavor. The remaining liquid forms an excellent stock for making soup. When pickled in this way, chanterelles can last from six to twelve months.
Another storage technique is drying. Mushrooms can be dried with gentle heat in an oven at temperatures of 65°C (149°F) or less. A vacuum process is also practical on large orders. A few hours before final preparation, put dry mushrooms in water which they absorb for returning to nearly original size. Mushrooms can then be used as fresh, and will last indefinitely as dry.
Fresh chanterelles can generally be stored up to ten days in a refrigerator.
Chanterelles are usually associated with conifers, although they are often found with oaks in California and Texas. In Scotland, chanterelles grow in mixed forests of silver birch and scots pine, especially when the forest has plenty of moist, mossy undergrowth. In Fife they are common under beech. They are usually (but not always) found in the same places as wild blueberries. In Spain they associate with sweet chestnut. A walk in the woods after rain should prove fruitful from late July through the Autumn.
The False Chanterelle (Hygrophoropsis aurantiaca) has finer, more orange gills and a darker cap. It is edible, but typically a culinary disappointment. The very similar Jack O'Lantern mushroom (Omphalotus olearius) and its sister species (Omphalotus olivascens) are very poisonous, though not lethal. They have true gills (unlike chanterelles) which are thinner, have distinct crowns, and generally do not reach up to the edge. Additionally, the Jack-O-Lantern mushroom is bioluminescent. Species in the genera Craterellus, Gomphus, and Polyozellus may also have a somewhat chanterelle-like appearance.
- ^ chanterelle at dictionary.com
- ^ California Fungi—Cantharellus cibarius
- ^ California Fungi—Cantharellus subalbidus
- ^ Philpot, Rosl (1965). Viennese Cookery. London: Hodder & Staughton. pp. 139–140.
- ^ Arora, David (1979). Mushroom Demystified. Ten Speed Press. ISBN 0-89815-009-4.
- ^ Metzler, Susan (1992). Texas Mushrooms: A Field Guide. 1st edition. University of Texas Press. ISBN 0-292-75125-5.