July's Wild Food
The flowery fruit of the kingdom fungi
Chanterelle is one of the most distinctively flavored mushrooms in all the world. It has
been described as having the aroma of apricots and tasting more like a flower then a
mushroom. There are several edible and delicious varieties but the one I will stick to
here, the Yellow or Golden Chanterelle (Cantharellus cibarius) is easy to
find because of its bright color and it's not hard to identify with a careful inspection.
Chanterelles are found in mixed woods, under conifers and oaks from Alaska to California
and Nova Scotia to Florida! Because of their wide distribution timing their arrival will
largely depend on when "Winter" ends in your area. Chanterelles will fruit
anytime from June to September depending on rainfall and temperature. The mushrooms
pictured above were picked on July 13th in upstate NY. The diagram below shows some keys
to proper identification.
There are two mushrooms that could be considered dangerous look alikes though neither is deadly, The Jack O'Lantern (Omphalotus illudens) has thinner more crowded gills and does not have white flesh, and the False Chanterelle (Hygrophoropsis aurantiaca) which also has thinner gills which are more orange in color and a cap which tends to be darker towards brown. As always if you aren't sure consult a field guide or a trusted expert. Bottom line as always: when in doubt throw it out!
If you are new to collecting wild foods be sure to check