All About Chanterelle Mushrooms: The Wild Fungi We Can't Resist
We're crazy about chanterelle mushrooms—the nutrient-packed meaty morsels that make vegetarian dishes even committed carnivores will enjoy. Learn how they grow, where to get them, their nutrition perks and how to cook with them.
What Are Chanterelle Mushrooms?
Chanterelle mushrooms grow mostly in the wild. They're mustard-yellow in color and are loosely shaped like a funnel. They're toothsome in texture and have an earthy-savory flavor. Mushroom hunters forage for them on moist forest floors under beech, maple and oak trees. They pop up during rainy summers in hardwood forests in every state except Hawaii, and the Pacific Northwest claims its own type of chanterelle: the Pacific golden chanterelle. They're edible (and delicious) but can be mistaken for other mushrooms which are toxic and can cause gastrointestinal distress if you eat them. That's why it's important to know where your mushrooms have come from and not to go hunting for them yourself without an expert!
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Where to Buy Chanterelles
While chefs are able to get their hands these wild mushrooms, they may be a challenge to find at your regular grocery store. Natural-foods stores and farmers' markets may carry them, or you can order them online. If you can't find fresh, you can buy dried or canned chanterelles. If you're really ambitious or just like to garden, you can also buy seed chanterelle (actually spores, and sometimes called spawn) and try to grow them yourself. (Love mushrooms? (Check out these 15 Recipes to Make with a Package of Mushrooms.)
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Chanterelles are satisfying, plus they supply several nutrients you need. Chanterelles contain vitamin D, which you need to help with calcium absorption for strong bones; iron to help bring oxygen to your muscles; and niacin, which helps lower cholesterol and promotes healthy skin. (Learn more about the Essential Nutrients You Should Be Eating.)
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Cleaning & Storage
Like all wild mushrooms, chanterelles need to be cleaned well before they're cooked. A few swipes with a mushroom brush (or a damp cloth) and a quick rinse to remove debris will do the trick. If they're wet, be sure to dry them to prevent them from spoiling. Fresh chanterelles can be refrigerated in a paper bag (plastic will lock in moisture and spoil them) for up to a week.
Cooking with Chanterelles
Like all mushrooms, these fungi hold a lot of water. Most recipes will require you to sauté them until they are golden brown to get rid of some of that water and intensify the flavor. For a simple sauté, cook them in a pan with butter or olive oil over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until they release most of their water and are lightly browned. Add a pinch of salt and pepper, garlic, shallots, a splash or cream and/or fresh chopped herbs and you are well on your way to enjoying these irresistible mushrooms. (Check out more Healthy Mushroom Recipes here.)