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How To Identify Chanterelle Mushrooms

If you have never laid eyes on a chanterelle mushroom before, this new endeavor might be slightly intimidating to you. But rest assured, just like the first time you ever saw a whirlpool, you forever more knew what it was. Chanterelle mushrooms are exactly the same way, as soon as you get an eye for it you won’t forget it.

Try a simple and easy to understand guide to edible mushrooms HERE!

For a simple recipe using chanterelle mushrooms, try my Easy Elk with Chanterelle Mushrooms recipe and you can sub elk with Pork Tenderloin. During the fall months, chanterelles in soup is an outstanding way to prepare them. Try out this easy Bok Choy Soup using chanterelles.

“One of the most important and best edible mushrooms.”

-Elias Fries Swedish Mycologist 1836
Chanterelle mushrooms

My experience with picking chanterelles

When I was a child my father would take me to pick chanterelle mushrooms in the mountainous of western Oregon. Since then I have become a seasoned and experienced forager after being out in the bush for so long. I’ve spent so many hours studying, and so much time picking wild edibles.

I felt like I was good at it, but after a while I started to realize that I am not particularly good at this. Nor am I smarter than anyone else because I can identify plants and mushrooms. I noticed how quickly my children were able to identify plants and mushrooms and to learn now ones.

This is a completely natural ability that all of use have. You are a child of this earth and this is one of the ways that the earth feeds us. The wild shapes, particular colors, and specific repetitions of nature give you the ability to remember these things season after season without fail.

Where do you find chanterelle mushrooms?

QUICK ANSWERS

  • Nearly every U.S. state except Hawaii and all across Central America, Europe, Asia, and Africa
  • In and around creeks or rivers, most areas, and even up high in the mountains in areas with a lot of rainfall.

“Channies” will grow in a huge range of habitats, but I have found a few constants after picking chanterelles in different places. They need it to be moist to grow no matter where it is. I have picked chanterelles high in the mountains in Oregon, and on the banks of my creek in Oklahoma.

One very important thing about finding chanterelles. They are what is known as micorrhizal which means that their mycelium (root system of a mushroom) forms a beneficial relationship with the roots of certain tree species.

How does this help you?

This is helpful because if you can try and recognize which tree they are growing near. Then no matter where you live in the world, you can find an associate species.

If you want to find more chanterelle spots, then you just find that tree that you have identified as a partner to the chanterelle.

For example in Oregon I would go looking for Sitka spruce woods in the fall after a few good rains. Look on the ground around the trees, and you will most likely find chanterelles if it is the right time of year and there is sufficient rain fall.

In Oklahoma where I live now, you have to look for chanterelles in hardwood forests. I have found them in association with Oak. They grow in the spring and fall here in the south and will grow throughout the summer with sufficient rainfall.

When do chanterelles grow?

Here is one part of mushroom picking that is very special and takes some time to learn! There is no constant when it comes to mushroom picking at what time of year things grow. If you live in the western U.S., they grow in the fall months, and only for about 2 to 3 months tops.

In the south where I live now, Chanterelles will grow in the spring, summer, and fall. I always go looking for chanterelles after the daytime temperatures get in the 70’s and 80’s and then all summer and fall when it has rained a lot.

To find out when chanterelles grow you must

Focus on the temperature, and focus on what the trees are doing.

Mushrooms tend to fruit when it is a certain temperature outside. Too cold, they will not fruit and too hot and dry, they will not grow.

Mushrooms root systems (mycelium) decide to fruit when they have run out of nutrients. So if you focus on what the trees are doing when you find chanterelles, then you can make sure you look next time when the trees are doing the same thing.

Chanterelles in a Sitka spruce forest

Where there are a lot of deciduous trees, there is a sap flow at the beginning of the spring. The chanterelle mycelium feeds on this sap and expand their roots. When it heats up and the sap flow slows down, the chanterelles will fruit because they are running out of nutrients.

Where there are a lot of coniferous trees, the trees go dormant for the winter. Their sap flow slows down and then the chanterelles mycelium decide its time to fruit. So this is the reason why chanterelles in the north fruit in the fall and chanterelles in the south fruit throughout the year except for winter.

What are some notable characteristics of Chanterelles?

I have added a lot of images in this blog post for good reason. Look at any of these photographs to check the characteristics that I am about to lay out.

QUICK ANSWERS

  • Smell of apricots
  • Gill that descend down the stem.
  • Golden in color
  • White on the inside
  • Bruises brown
  • Fibrous texture. You can peel 1 strip of its fiber the whole length of the mushroom (like a piece of cooked chicken breast).
  • Chanterelles grow in single, in groups, or in clusters. They are easy to recognize with the background of the woods behind them. Gold and yellow is not the only color that they grow, they also grow in the color of red, black, and white.
  • In my experience I have found that they sometimes fruit in small numbers, and they sometimes fruit in huge numbers. You will see from just a few, to a sea of chanterelles dotted along the forest floor.
  • One of the best ways of identifying chanterelles is by looking at the gills. The gills are not actually gills but known more as ridges. The ridges descend down the stalk of the mushroom.
  • I will add a photo of normal mushroom gills down below. You will see that other mushrooms have a very abrupt end to the gills, and a very abrupt beginning to the stem. But the chanterelle has no abrupt end or beginning to gills or stem, so this is a huge identifier.
  • You see how the gills on these mushrooms ends right at the stem, and the stem does not have any gills on them? This is how most mushrooms are but the chanterelle is different in this way.
  • Here is a clean bunch of chanterelles. Chanterelles have a very meaty texture and are very fibrous like chicken breast. If you pull one piece of the mushroom fiber you can peel it all the way up the mushroom, up the gills, and to the cap.

One more very important method of identifying chanterelles is there fruity aroma! Stick your nose into one of these mushrooms and you will get a very strong whiff of apricots.

How do you harvest chanterelle mushrooms?

You do not want to “pick” them. You only want to slice them at the base with a sharp knife. If you look at the picture above, these were expertly picked chanterelles.

You DO NOT want to pick chanterelles at the base and rip their mycelium. Chanterelle mycelium can be very fragile and you can damage your picking spot for a long time to come. This will also help you to keep a clean basket of mushrooms.

As you can see, this is a very clean basket of mushrooms. If we would have picked them out of the soil, this basket would be full of dirt.

Which takes us to the next portion of learning all about the chanterelle mushroom.

How do you clean chanterelle mushrooms?

The best way to clean chanterelle mushrooms is to take a damp paper towel and gently rub off any noticeable dirt.

Do not wash mushrooms because they will absorb a lot of water and this will effect their quality.

How do you cook with chanterelle mushrooms?

Chanterelles are a very versatile ingredient. So, you can make all sorts of dishes with them.

Chanterelles are delicious in soups, stews, fried in butter and oil, baked in a casserole, and everywhere in between! They go well paired with fish and a white wine for some surf and turf that you will not soon forget! Or paired with a nice steak of beef, venison, or elk.

How to store chanterelle mushrooms

Wipe your mushrooms clean with a damp paper towel and transfer the mushrooms to a dry towel or paper towel to air dry. After the outside of the mushroom dries off from cleaning, place in an air tight container with some dry paper towels.

Mushrooms will sweat when in an airtight container and a couple of dry paper towels will absorb the liquid and keep them fresh. You will want to use your mushrooms within a few days of harvesting or purchasing them.

How to preserve chanterelle mushrooms

Since drying chanterelles is not the best way to preserve them. Ill tell of the way my father likes to preserve them.

Sauté your cleaned chanterelles in a pan and spoon out the liquid if any settles at the bottom of the pan. Keep taking the liquid out as it sweats out of the mushrooms.

Once all the liquid has been sweated out of the chanterelles, put a knob of butter in the pan. Then, let the butter melt into the chanterelles and toss the mushrooms so they are all coated in butter.

Then simply put them in a plastic storage bag and put them in the freezer. I like this way because the mushrooms end up having a fresh flavor, are not too rubbery and it helps because you can portion them out per serving size.

How To Identify Chanterelle Mushrooms

How To Identify Chanterelle Mushrooms

If you have never laid eyes on a chanterelle mushroom before, this new endeavor might be slightly intimidating to you. But rest assured, just like the first time you ever saw a whirlpool, you forever more knew what it was. Mushrooms are exactly the same way, as soon as you get an eye for it you won't forget it.

Materials

  • Basket
  • Your wisdom and knowledge
  • Mushroom book (optional)
  • Coat (if you live up north)

Tools

  • Sharp knife
  • Brush (for cleaning mushrooms)

Instructions

  1. Find the right conditions. Which is the right temperature, time of year, sufficient rainfall, location in relation to companion trees.
  2. Use your sharp knife to harvest the chanterelles at the base of the stem, check to make sure the gills descend down the stem.
  3. Wipe any dirt off of it, and place it in your basket.
  4. Place it in an air tight container.
  5. Use within a 2-3 days of harvesting or purchasing for best flavor.

Notes

Notable characteristics,

Apricot smell

Gills descending down stem

Golden color

White flesh

Fibrous texture

This may take a little time to be completely comfortable with. But, if you find a spot which grows chanterelles, they will grow there year after year. So that eventually you will have a list of spots that you can go check.

If you can help it, don't dry chanterelles. Because chanterelles don't reconstitute well. it is best to use them fresh.

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