Latin name: Cantharellus spp.
Other names: girolle, pfefferling, anzutake
The name chanterelle describes a variety of edible wild mushrooms in several genera — some of which rank among the world’s finest eating mushrooms, along with matsutake, porcini, and morels. They range from pale yellow to medium orange, with decurrent, forked folds instead of gills and a squat, plump trumpet shape.
Why is chanterelle healthy?
Although chanterelles are not prized as much as other wild mushroom species for their medicinal properties, they are a treasured for their taste, aroma, and texture. Like all mushrooms, they are an excellent source of D and B vitamins and contain an impressive array of anti-microbial, anti-fungal, and antibacterial properties. Researchers have recently found great interest in their possible potential as an alternative to chemoprotective therapies.
What does chanterelle taste like?
Fruity, woodsy, spicy. Because there are so many different types of chanterelles, there’s significant variation. Their bright orange color is an indication of how special they are; these are not your everyday button mushrooms. While they possess loads of fungal umami, chanterelles are almost floral, with a sweet perfume that hovers intriguingly between kingdoms.
Where does chanterelle grow?
Cantharellus species grow wild across large areas of Europe, Asia, Africa, and North and Central America. They like coniferous and mixed hardwood forests with birch, beech, and oak, especially grassy areas at the edge of denser woods. Chanterelle season generally runs from summer into early fall depending on the region and altitude. They are extremely difficult to cultivate outside of a laboratory, so they can only be foraged in the wild.
How do I prepare chanterelle and what do I pair it with?
Because chanterelles are so expensive, it’s best to keep the preparation simple. Many of their most aromatic flavors are fat or alcohol soluble, so sautéing them with garlic in a little oil, butter, or cream and then deglazing with a splash of white wine is a good idea. Add a little parsley or thyme to the pan right before serving and you’re in business.
The Japanese name for chanterelles is anzutake, meaning “apricot mushroom,” and chanterelles do share flavor compounds with that similarly-colored fruit. It may seem like an unlikely pairing, but it works (try deglazing the pan with a little apricot brandy).