Cantharellus is a genus with many popular edible mushrooms. It is a mycorrhizal edible fungus, meaning it forms symbiotic associations with plants, making it very challenging to cultivate. Caution must be used when identifying chanterelles for consumption; lookalikes, such as the Jack-O-Lantern (Omphalotus olearius), can make a person very ill. Still, the golden chanterelle is one of the most recognized edible mushrooms and can be found in Asia, Europe, North America and Australia.
Some species of Cantharellus, such as the yellowfoot chanterelle, have been re-examined and moved to the closely related genus Craterellus.
The genus Cantharellus contains many species known generally as chanterelles, though for the most part the name refers to the most famous species C. cibarius. 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. subalbidus: In California and the Pacific Northwest of USA there is also the White chanterelle, which looks like the golden chanterelle except for its off-white color. It is more robust with a thicker stalk, and found in lesser numbers than the golden chanterelle, but can otherwise be treated as its yellow cousin; some believe the flavor is superior.
- 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 the Pacific Northwest. This chanterelle has been designated Oregon's state mushroom, due to its economic value and abundance.
|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.
In European cuisine, Chanterelles are often served with venison. A traditional method of preparing these mushrooms is sauteed and then used to make scrambled eggs.
Many Mushroom enthusiasts just like chanterelles sautéed 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.
It is a feature of Viennese cuisine.
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.
In Scotland chanterelles grow in mixed forest (silver birch and scots pine mostly) especially when the forest has plenty of moist, mossy undergrowth. They are usually (but not always) found in the same places as wild blueberries. A walk in the woods after rain should prove fruitful from late July through the Autumn. They seem particularly abundant in those forests with a waterfall, examples are the forests near aberfoyle in the Trossachs and the woods near Dunkeld, Aberfeldy and New Lanark/Falls of Clyde. You can usually find plenty of Porcini in the same general area.
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.