Friday, 17 August 2012

Chanterelle Mushrooms, The Hunt Is On

With the fragrance of an apricot and a slight peppery flavor, Chanterelle mushrooms are one of the very best in the mushroom family, in my humble opinion.  They are considered by many to be as special and gourmet as a truffle and their cost is not cheap. They are a beautiful color, an orange yellow shade that shines brightly from the green it attempts to hide in while growing.  Ours were mostly growing in mossy areas close to trees.

Photo by Jenn @ I'm Cookin' In My Kitchen

If you're out and about in the woods hunting these beauts, do not be fooled by a fake!  A real Chanterelle mushroom has false gills that run from beneath the cap and down on to the stem, a fake will not have the gills run so far down.  Chanterelles also do not grow in bunches, they may grow in groups but will always have their own individual stems.

If you've never gone on the hunt for mushrooms, it is highly recommended that you find a guide to take you who can prevent you from taking home an inedible and possibly poisonous mushroom.  False Chanterelles are NOT poisonous but they are not as tasty and are not as digestible causing some gastrointestinal distress...eeek : )  However, the Jack O Lanterns will certainly make you sick, and very quickly.  They say, when in doubt, throw it out.  Don't let it scare you off, find someone who knows about mushrooms to avoid any worry.

Here is a great photo I found to show the difference in the gills to help you while Chanterelle mushroom hunting.
From Left to Right - False Chanterelle, Chanterelle, Jack O Lantern
 These shots are taken from a few years ago when we went with friends who spend time each year on the hunt.  I was first to find the gorgeous caps and it's very exciting.  You have to take care when slicing the top of the mushroom off, leaving the bottom of the plants in the ground so they continue to return there each growing season.  I am by no means a pro but did learn a few important notes while out in the woods from our dear friends.  Another good one they didn't follow but I know of as important is to use baskets to hold them instead of buckets.  This is so spores from the mushrooms that may fall from them go into the air to fall unto the ground helping the regrowth of new mushrooms.

Photo by Jenn @ I'm Cookin' In My Kitchen

Photo by Jenn @ I'm Cookin' In My Kitchen

Our find was small as it was late in the season for them but no less exciting.  What a treat!  If you get a chance to go, if you love mushrooms...go!  You won't be sorry, there's something refreshing about walking through the woods and harvesting wild fare for your dinner table : )  Make a day out of it by packing a picnic lunch where you can sit back and share stories about your finds. 

If you're lucky enough to be in the right area at the right time, many baskets of them can be brought home.  Drying them is easy to do and you'll find that their flavor is maximized and what a treat to be able to rehydrate them all winter long whenever you wish : )  Some will say that drying makes them tough, woody etc, but thrown into a soup pot with other mushrooms, well, let me just say they were soooo tasty!  If you don't like the idea of drying them, you can always freeze them too.

Photo by Jenn @ I'm Cookin' In My Kitchen

With a little butter, salt and fresh cracked pepper...we enjoyed ours with fresh bread, cheese and wine.

Recipes using these fabulous Chanterelles can include, omelette's, soups, creamy sauces for pasta & souffles

Ciao for now and until next time Happy Cookin'
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