CHANTERELLES

June 9, 2018

Chanterellus is a edible mushroom especially popular in central Europe [but it grows all around the world]. The name comes from the Greek word ‘kantharos’ meaning cup.
In German you will find them under the names ‘Echter Pfifferling’, ‘Reherl’ or ‘ Gelchen’. In Austria the mushroom is most commonly knowns as ‘Eierschwammerl’ [egg mushroom].

The egg yolk coloured mushroom starts out as a small, convex cap with in-rolled edges and grows to be funnel shaped with wavy edges. They can be quite irregularly shaped.
The gills are the same colour as the rest of the mushroom and run down the stem. They are forked and often quite wavy.
The stem [also same color as the rest of the mushroom] is usually similar in length than the cap in width. The flesh is yellowish white.
It says they are rather fragrant and with an apricot like aroma [I would consider that a stretch…].

Chanterelle mushrooms form a symbiotic beneficial relationship with plant or tree roots. Therefore this mushroom is extremely hard to cultivate. You’ll only find them on the ground in a variety of hardwood forests. Moist, mossy undergrowth and between wild blueberries ist often a good bet. As with most mushrooms the best time to hunt for them is on a warm day, a few days after heavy rainfalls. They grow extremely fast and persist only for about 2-3 weeks. They are fairly bug resistant [although slugs seem to love them]. As with all mushrooms – cut off the mushroom in a way that you leave the roots in the ground so they can keep on growing their network.

SEASON

Depending on how hot and wet the summer was Chanterelles can be found between mid-summer and early fall [July, August, September]. As mentioned before rain is essential for them to grow. Therefore the best time to look for chanterelles is after about a week of warm weather and previous rainfalls.

SHOPPING + STORAGE

If you have the chance it’s always nicer to gather chanterelles yourself rather than buy them on the farmers market or in a store. The fresher the better! Untreated they will keep in the fridge [ideally in a paper bag] only for about 2-3 days.

If you buy them take care to check for dark and wet spots. As soon as they dry out they immediately loose flavour. The top surface should not be wrinkly and the edges still bright yellow-orange.

As most mushrooms they like to take on water. Unfortunately some dealers will use that property, spray them with water and sell them for a higher price, since they are heavier. Check if the surface feels slime or soggy.

When collecting chanterelles yourself it’s all about knowing false gills. False gills appear as forked folds or interlaced wrinkles on the underside of a mushroom. False gills are not easily removed from the cap [you would damage it], and look as though they have “melted”. Sounds wrong, but false gills are what you want. Chanterelles have false gills and many of their inedible lookalikes have true gills.
As always… please never eat any mushroom you are not 100% sure is edible. There is a variety of optically similar species that are inedible [e.g. the Jack-O-Lantern]. Best is always to get a local expert to show you how to identify the right and wrong ones in the local woods.
As a general rule pick the larger specimens. Especially when the forecast predicts rain as they will grow exponentially within a couple of days. You can come back a week or so later to get a second fill.

Chanterelles can be frozen and used later [but they will loose quite a bit of their flavour and texture]. If you do so best use them in sauces and don’t defrost them before frying them.
Another way to preserve them is to pickle them in brine. That way they can last between six and twelve months.
Although not very popular they can also be dried. That way they last almost indefinitely. They don’t reconstitute well for cooking but make a great powder for seasoning.

CULINARY USE

Like most mushrooms refrain from washing them. Use a small knife and brush to get them clean. [If you don’t have a special mushroom brush a toothbrush works just fine]
They lose a lot of water when heated therefore most people prefer to dry sauté them [fry them without oil or butter]. Season them with salt only just before serving so they don’t lose even more water. [If they taste bitter they are either too old or not chanterelles at all – better discard of the dish.]

Due to their slightly peppery flavour they are often used for salads, risottos and pasta, as well as dishes with game. In Austria they are a delicacy served with Semmelknödel!
But really – there is no limit to the culinary use of this mushroom. They go well with eggs, curry, chicken, pork, fish, beef and veal. Can be used as a topping on pizza, be stewed, marinated, sautéed or used as filling for crêpes.

The mushroom has a rather unique and dominant flavour. Therefore it’s usually good to give the stage to the chanterelle and not mix it with other strong flavours.

Even if you decide to use them in a cold dish [like salad] you will want to sauté them beforehand since in raw form the mushroom is hard to digest and might cause stomach problems.

RECIPES

CHANTERELLE CHOWDER WITH CORN

SERVIETTENKNÖDEL MIT EIERSCHWAMMERLN

NUTRITIONAL VALUE

Consisting of about 80% water and with only about 15 calories and 0.5g fat per 100g chanterelles are a healthy treat.
Many species of chanterelles contain antioxidant carotenoids [e.g. beta-carotene] and significant amounts of vitamin D. Unfortunately since they also contain chitin they are hard to digest. So if you want to do your digestive system some good consume them in small amounts.

Nutritional value per 100g

Energy               38 kcal

Fat                      0.5 g

Natrium              9 mg

Kalium                506 mg

Carbohydrates  7 g

Sugar                 1.2 g

Protein               1.5 g

Kalzium              15 mg

Iron                     3.5 mg

Magnesium        13 g

Vitamins D          212 IU

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