Found unassumingly growing at the base of trees in the wild, chanterelles are one of the most beloved variety of mushrooms among chefs. The chanterelle’s unique nutty flavor pairs so well with cream sauces, cured meats, and cheeses that they have earned a spot as a staple in gourmet cooking. Chanterelles are not just for the experts, though. You can easily incorporate them into your home cooking, and with only 20 calories a serving and ample fiber and vitamins B and D, you’ll soon grow attached to this autumn delight!
Depending on the variety, chanterelle mushrooms come in a range of colors, including off-white, light yellow, bright orange, and dark gold. Chanterelles in the US have broad, slightly flat or slightly conical caps that are typically one to four inches in diameter and long, crooked stems. Size differs depending on where they come from: East Coast chanterelles are often smaller, while West Coast varieties can weigh up to two pounds.
Chanterelles can be found either pre-packaged or loose in a bin.
Chanterelle mushrooms have a distinctly light and nutty flavor. Some varieties also have a hint of fruitiness.
Chanterelles are widely available in major supermarkets, specialty stores, and farmers’ markets, especially during peak season.
The chanterelle season is largely dependent on rainfall—they prefer a damp environment. The first chanterelles can be found as early as June and the last as late as November.
However, many specialty stores carry them year round.
Choose fungi with plump, fleshy, wavy caps and firm stems. A slight fruity aroma indicates optimal freshness. The color can be anywhere from off-white to dark gold. The mushroom should be moist enough to flex the flesh, but not wet. Avoid dry and cracked mushrooms (as they were not stored properly or are overripe). Also, avoid withered or broken caps and shriveled stems, as that is an indication they are rotting.
When deciding whether to purchase organic or non-organic produce, it’s helpful to know which fruits and vegetables are most affected by pesticides. Pesticides are toxins used to kill insects, invasive plants, and fungi during the growth of produce, and are potentially dangerous to people. National and international agencies agree that prolonged exposure to specific pesticides through food consumption is a potential health risk. Additionally, some studies indicate that organic fruits and vegetables have a higher concentration of vitamins and minerals than conventionally raised produce.
The Environmental Working Group (EWG) is an environmental health advocacy and research organization in the United States. From cosmetics to produce, water to cleaning products, EWG provides insight regarding the impact of pesticides, manufacturing practices, and product ingredients on our health and environment. EWG produces a consumer guide ranking 48 fruits and vegetables with pesticide residue. The higher the rank, the lower the residue. In this ranking, the 12 most affected fruits and vegetables belong to the “Dirty Dozen,” and the 15 least affected are part of the “Clean Fifteen.” These lists help identify the produce that is most—and least—dramatically affected by pesticides.
Chanterelle mushrooms are not specifically ranked on any list, but button mushrooms are #35 on the full EWG list, very close to the “Clean Fifteen,” which means you can enjoy them without concern over pesticides.
Keep unwashed chanterelles in a brown paper bag or wrapped in wax paper in the refrigerator for up to a week.
Washed chanterelles should be loosely placed in a large paper-towel-lined bowl, and covered with a hand towel, then refrigerated for up to three days.
Chanterelle mushrooms have tight-fitting caps that collect a lot of dirt and debris. Under a trickle of cool running water, use a soft-bristled mushroom brush or toothbrush to remove dirt from the mushroom cap gills and stems. Avoid drenching the mushrooms—the less water, the better. Let the mushrooms air dry on kitchen paper.
Both the caps and stems of chanterelles are edible, so you can cook them whole or slice as needed.
Often produced by the body via sunlight exposure, vitamin D is essential for maintaining proper absorption of calcium into bones and teeth. Vitamin D may also play a role in mood stability, blood-sugar regulation, insulin sensitivity, cognitive function and memory, cardiovascular health, immune system health, prevention of certain types of cancer, and metabolism. Vitamin D is also necessary for increasing energy levels and fighting against fatigue and depression.
An energy-producing vitamin, niacin is responsible for transporting energy and metabolizing glucose within the cell. This vitamin may be helpful for regulating blood sugar after a carbohydrate-heavy meal.
Riboflavin is helpful for metabolism, aiding in fatty acid energy release. Vitamin B2 is also important for metabolizing proteins, ketone bodies, and carbohydrates.
B5 (Pantothenic Acid)
Helpful for metabolizing fatty acids and protein, two of the most satiating and long-lasting nutrients in the body. Vitamin B5 is also responsible for maintaining the proper functioning of insulin receptors and energy maintenance.
A mineral that plays a role in producing collagen and keeping the immune system in proper working order, copper is an essential nutrient needed by the body in small amounts. Copper may also fight against free radicals, helping to delay the aging process. Energy production is also one of the many benefits of this important mineral.
Chanterelles are a great addition to anyone’s diet, but are particularly beneficial for those with diabetes. They are packed with B vitamins, which are essential for regulating blood sugar and distributing energy throughout the body. They also contain a low amount of dietary sugar, so you will not experience a blood sugar spike from eating them.
In addition, they also contain substantial vitamin D; in fact, a single serving contains nearly a third of your recommended daily value. The sun naturally provides the majority of your daily vitamin D needs. However, in the fall and winter months when sunlight is limited, dietary sources of vitamin D become more important. Chanterelles help fill the vitamin D void left by the early sunset.
- Because of the funnel shape of chanterelle mushrooms, ancient Greeks called them kantharos, which means “cup,” “vase,” or “goblet.”
- In the US, there are more than 40 species of chanterelle. The Pacific Golden chanterelle is the state mushroom of Oregon.
- Although readily available through specialty grocers, many people enjoy hunting for chanterelles in the wild. They usually grow on or near host trees such as oak, Douglas fir, and spruce. *Keep in mind, foraging mushrooms on your own can be dangerous. Chanterelles can often be confused with other types of mushrooms that are poisonous. In general, it’s best to stick to buying them from grocers and farmers’ markets. However, if you are adamant about finding wild chanterelles, go with an expert, who will ensure you are picking the correct type of mushroom.