December 14, 2019, at 02:40 PM (0 comments)
Introduction to Chanterelles for First Time Foragers
If you live in a part of the country where Chanterelle mushrooms grow, you are extremely lucky. They are an amazingly tasty mushroom, and one of the easiest mushrooms to successfully identify and feel safe consuming.
My family moved to the woods, from the beach, a few years ago. The transition was tough on all of us because our entire local geography had changed, and thus our weekend hobbies and activities changed. We no longer had the beach or boat as options for outside family fun.
When we first moved to the forest, my previous love of mushrooms started to take on a more prominent role in my life. We lived on 2 acres and I started documenting the mushrooms that grew in my own yard. One day, about 6 months into the relocation, I saw a bright yellow mushroom while on a bike ride with my son. I saw it as we rode by, and when we got home, I quickly hopped on my skateboard and went back to the spot to take a closer look.
While I had never seen a chanterelle before in my life ( other than in books or the internet), when I saw it, my gut was telling me, it’s a chanterelle. I collected it and took it home, as it was customary for me to take spore prints etc.
Now, I say earlier that the chanterelle is the easiest mushroom to identify for beginners, it was not at all easy for me. At least not to the level of enough confirmation to feel comfortable in eating it. I had an inherent fear of mushrooms, especially when pulled from nature that existed deep inside of me. Through vigorous research, and confirmations, I considered myself 99% sure. Which is an extremely strong belief, based on research that I had done. However, I still could not bring myself to eat the mushroom. That 1%, or “what-if fear” would creep in and I would chicken out and not eat it. Ultimately the mushroom rotted on my kitchen counter and I did not have the courage to eat it.
So, I totally get the fear regarding a myconoobs reluctance to consume a mushroom found in the wild. In another blog post, I’ll post the story of when I actually did finally eat the chanterelles that I had found, as it is a funny story in and of itself, and further elucidates the innate fear that I had when it came to “trusting” in my identification enough to consume it.
Chanterelles have very distinct characteristics and should be very easy to identify. Once you understand it logically, and feel body/soul that it is a Chanterelle, you will never be confused as long as you live.
yellow ( from almost white to a dark yellow)
Orange ( can range from a light orange to a deep red orange)
Red ( not a bright red, but a range of red which is somewhat dull to rusty looking
Apricot Smell ( Ripe chanterelles, or ones that have not dried out too much will have a very distinct sweet smelling odor which closely resembles apricots
No smell ( I’ve often gathered chanterelles that didn’t have a smell at all)
They have False Gills
The gills on a chanterelle are what make it unique. They have ridges which are more like thick folds that do not terminate at the cap
If you can run your fingers over the gills and they stay as ridges and do not fall apart as a typical mushroom hill would, you probably have a chanterelle ( barring it meets the other criteria)
Chanterelles grow singularly from the ground
They do not grow in a way where a big clump of chanterelles can be picked up together with a common stem source
They are growing individually, and are typically spread out over an area
Chanterelles can grow next to another chanterelle, but almost always they have seperate stems and can be pulled out individually.
Occasionally I have seen 2 chanterelles fused together at the base of the stem, but that is the exception.
Firm / stout body
The chanterelle is not a dainty mushroom that falls apart or is easily damaged
When you break off part of the stem of a chanterelle it almost makes a snapping sound, and while that may be hyperbole, it certainly leaves a clear “break” versus a cap that tears or easily bends.
chanterelles are mycorhizzal, meaning they grow symbiotically with the roots of hard wood trees.
Therefore if you find a mushroom in a grassy field with no trees around, odds are it is not a chanterelle
Typically they can be found under oaks or around oak ( or other hardwoods) as the roots from the trees extend much further than the trunk
I often find some of my best chanterelle patches in areas where water can collect and then drains off slowly but efficiently.
I also find them ( and this is my own theory) in places where oak trees are being crowded by pine trees. I think that maybe there is a benefit to the oak tree to have the help of the chanterelles, especially when there is competition for resources from pines.
Jack-O-Lanterns have True Gills
Their gills are thin, numerous, and easily removed from the bottom of the cap
can have a similar color to chanterelles, yellow to orangeish
Jack-O-Lanterns grow directly on wood ( or directly on the roots of trees)
Jack-O-Lanterns typically grow in clumps where the stems of each mushroom lead back to a common source.