The Chanterelle
(Cantharellus cibarius)
Chanterelle
The Chanterelle, sculpture

The Chanterelle

sculpture, acrylic paints

This bright yellow to orange mushroom has a convex to funnel-shaped cap 3/8 to 6 inches across with a wavy margin. The mushroom may be odorless, or smell like apricots.

Blunt-edged, thick, forked (dividing) yellow to orange gills under the cap run down the stalk a short distance. The spore print is pale yellow to creamy.

The yellow to orange solid stalk is 1to 3 inches long, 1/4 to 1 inch thick, white inside.

Chanterelles

Chanterelles

Note the shallowness of the gills, which run down the stalk.

The chanterelle grows throughout North America, on the ground under oaks and conifers, sometimes in great quantity. Look for it throughout the summer in eastern North America, from fall to spring on the West Coast.

Unlike other summer mushrooms, this one doesn't begin to get infested with insects as soon as it comes up, although older specimens pick up lots of grit, especially after they've been rained on, that you need to brush away under running water.

Older Chanterelles

Chanterelles

Note that these are older and dirtier than the pristine specimens shown above.

Other related chanterelle species are also edible, but don't confuse the chanterelle with the poisonous Jack O'Lantern (Omphalotus olearius), a larger mushroom that grows clustered on dead wood, with gills that are not forked or divided.

The chanterelle is one of the world's best-known choice wild mushrooms. Professional pickers strip clean forests in the Pacific Northwest, ship the chanterelles to France in refrigerated pLn.s, can them, and return them to the US as expensive imported French gourmet mushrooms!

Nevertheless, some people experience gastric distress from chanterelles, especially if they're undercooked, so cook them at least 15 minutes, and go easy on them the first time you try them.

Chanterelles are great sautéed in olive oil with a little garlic. Traditionally added to omelets and egg dishes, they're excellent in vegan mock egg dishes as well, and they can't be beat in soups, stews, or casseroles. They also provide vitamin A.