The golden child of the mushroom world, chanterelles are known for their beautiful yellow-orange colour, their rarity (they’re generally available fresh only in the late summer and autumn), and most of all, their flavour — a subtle balance of black pepper, butter, apricot, and earth notes.
Their size can vary from tiny blossom-like specimens to impressive 12 cm trumpets (fresh versions can weigh up to 900g). Their rich flavour pairs well with eggs and cream sauces. Available in both fresh and dried forms, they can be quite pricey.
Chanterelles have a symbiotic relationship with trees and shrubs: The fungus protects the roots, and they draw nutrients from each other. This symbiosis is difficult and costly to replicate, so chanterelles are not cultivated, only foraged in the wild. That, combined with their short growing season—from the first autumn rain until the first frost—is what makes chanterelles so rare. But they do grow in temperate climates on every continent, and on many types of trees and bushes.
|Mushrooms, Chanterelle, raw|
Chanterelle Mushroom Selection
When choosing fresh chanterelles, look for a fragrant, apricot-like odour and a golden colour. Look for chanterelles that feel firm, with no soft or slimy spots; the gill-like ridges under the cap should be intact. Fresh chanterelles have a pronounced apricot- or peach-like scent. They lose a lot of flavour when dried, so avoid dried or powdered chanterelles.
If they still have their narrow root ends, trim those immediately (the stems, though more fibrous than the caps, are edible). Wait until just before cooking to clean chanterelles with a soft-bristled brush or damp paper towel. If really dirty, hold them under running water and then pat dry with paper towels.
Chanterelle Mushroom Preparation
When rehydrated, their texture is pleasantly chewy; the stems, however, can be woody, so after soaking, trim off tough stems and discard them.
Chanterelles can be used in any recipe calling for mushrooms, but they do best in dishes where they’re the star. Many of the flavour compounds in chanterelles are fat soluble, so they are wonderful cooked in butter or cream and served over pasta or on toast. They make a decadent mushroom soup or cream sauce, as seen in the Chicken Maryland with Peas and Chanterelle Mushrooms recipe, and they’re great in risotto, or egg dishes like omelettes, quiches, and frittatas.
Chanterelles pair well with white wine and aromatic fresh herbs like thyme, tarragon, and chervil. Their peppery flavour is good with sweet onions or shallots; hazelnuts or pine nuts accent their nutty notes. Red meat can overpower chanterelles, but they are delicious with fish, poultry, or pork.
Storing Chanterelle Mushrooms
Chanterelles stored in a paper bag or a bowl loosely covered with a kitchen towel last up to a week in the refrigerator. They can also be sautéed, cooled, and then frozen for up to a year.
The Australian Chanterelle
Known as the native Chanterelle or the Australian Chanterelle, Cantharellus concinnus is a somewhat uncommon mushroom that is macroscopically very similar to the European and US continental common chanterelle (Canterellus cibarius or Girolle).
The Australian chanterelle is a closely related species that occurs in heathland and scrub below various native Eucalypt species including the Messmate Stringybark. While it can occur in large troops of semi rings, it is relatively uncommon. The Australian native chanterelle is reputed to have a more subtle flavour profile than the European varieties with a palate and odour of apricots but a less pronounced pepperiness.
Substitution of Chanterelle Mushrooms
- Fresh chanterelles are best; dried or canned chanterelles are less flavourful and tend to have a rubbery texture.
- Substitutes: Hedgehog Mushroom or White mushroom or Oyster mushroom or Ear mushroom or Morel