August in Newfoundland. Prime time for mushrooms.
This week's post is about wild mushrooms, and particularly one delightful variety: the chanterelle. Yes, that peachy little trumpet that sells for $60/pound* at the grocery store grows all over this province - for free! And you can find it yourself... if you know where to look. And once you bring it into your kitchen? Well, that's where the magic begins.
Ready? I'm going to share some fantastic ideas for meals and I'll equip you with the know-how to forage your own chanterelles. Read more and click on the photos to find recipes.
(Like a photo? Click it for a link to its recipe!)
I recently met a local mushroomer who rolled her eyes when I told her about my secret chanterelle patch that yields two pounds per visit. To my chagrin, she was clearly unimpressed. "Chanterelles? They're the Walmart of mushrooms." I thought about this and maybe I could see her point. Democratic, predictable, and available in abundance, chanterelles are a widespread favourite. But generic and drab they certainly are not!
For many, I'd argue, chanterelles are the highlight of the mushrooming season. They look fantastic, they smell fantastic, and they taste exquisite. What's not to love?
Hunting chanterelles - habitat and identification
If you thought I was going to give up my secret patch, I'm sorry. My lips are sealed. I will, though, give you some tips on where to look, when to look, and what to look for. If you'd like to fact-check me on any of these points, check out the 'Further Reading' section at the bottom of the page - resources I used in my own fact-finding mission.
Chanterelles patches grow reliably year after year - so if you find one, keep it a closely guarded secret. This is your cash cow!
Concerns about the "False Chanterelle"
In mushroom hunting the risk is real - but don't fall for the hype that it's reckless. In our safety-obsessed culture mycophobia (fear of wild mushrooms) is surprisingly common. The bottom line is: if you're content eating button mushrooms and portobellos the rest of your life, then that's perfectly acceptable. But if you're curious and want to seek out the most delicious wild edibles then you must heed the apocalyptic tales of killer look-alikes with a grain of salt and equip yourself with actual useful knowledge.
As a first rule you should always hunt with an experienced mushroomer."
There are warranted concerns about foraging wild mushrooms. As a first rule you should always hunt with an experienced mushroomer. No field guide can replace the wisdom gained from experience. Even the most detailed picture on the planet doesn't hold up to the trained eye, reliable memory, and a keen sense of intuition found in experienced mushroom hunters.
The "false chanterelle" refers to the Hygrophoropsis aurantiaca. Still scared? It usually grows on rotting wood, has true gills (not folds like on the chanterelle), lacks the apricot smell, and does not taste great when cooked. Generally considered edible, but it is known to cause belly-aches in some, and supposedly even hallucinations for others.
Play it safe and follow a basic rule of thumb: don't eat anything that grows on wood and don't eat little brown mushrooms.
Cleaning your chanterelles
Mushroom hunting is all about getting outside and enjoying nature.
*One reader contacted me to tell me that during peak season the market price of chanterelles can plummet as low as $15-20/pound in local grocers like Lester's Farm and Food For Thought. So, they are not always so expensive in stores. (But still, the best price is available in the woods.)
I'm Erik, the Burnt Chef. I'm a Finnish-born Newfoundlander living in Norway. I have a passion for cooking and a deep fascination for the culinary history of the North. Simplicity guides my cooking. Time, place, and history guide my storytelling. This is my personal blog about food.