WHAT IS A CHANTERELLE?
This mushroom is one of the most popular fungi on the shelves of your local retailer. Among other nicknames they are called egg mushrooms. Asian and European versions are much smaller then the giant North American variety. German chefs argue that tinier mushrooms in general yield more flavor (while French chefs love larger sizes ). Chanterelles have a fruit-like scent and gold color. When cooking, don’t mince these guys, cut them into chunks. And don’t overcook them or you’ll lose what makes their flavor and texture so special.
WHY ARE CHANTERELLES GOOD FOR YOU?
Like other mushrooms they are rich in fiber, protein and a number of rumored and proven health benefits. But there are a LOT of poisonous look-alikes to chanterelles, so be careful before you start picking them in the wild. Part of this confusion is because what we call “chanterelles” today is actually a mix of a number of different fungi species. So don’t read this website, think you’re a mushroom expert, and go out and pick live chanterelles. This isn’t like contracting a mild case of food poisoning but rather like having a severe case of organ failure. For a great post on this to read more click here!
WHEN ARE CHANTERELLES IN SEASON?
On the East Coast of the U.S.A. they are a Summer harvest, on the West Coast with its’ more temperate climate they are a Fall and Winter harvest. In Europe June and July are the best months. However the recent warmer weather has prolonged the mushroom season and caused it to start a bit earlier.
HOW SHOULD CHANTERELLES BE STORED?
When cleaning them don’t soak, instead gently scrub or whisk under a bit of running water just before using. If you need to store for longer, put them in a ziplock bag with a paper towel (to absorb moisture). Chanterelles can be stored in your refrigerator for around a week.
WHY DOESN’T MY LOCAL, INDEPENDENT, GOURMET STORE CARRY CHANTERELLES?
I’d love to write that independent gourmet retailers sell them. But sadly in the States most small Mom and Pop stores steer clear of fresh produce. They leave those sales up to their neighborhood supermarket. These large chains in turn tend to focus on what can be industrially processed. While local farmer’s markets have had a bit of a Renaissance, there is hope for independents. The restaurant distributor Baldor did open up distribution to retailers as well as white table cloth restaurants. A few brave independent retail souls are testing carrying highly perishable gourmet foods. The problem there is if you can’t sell something fresh, you either need to have a grab and go bar where you can recycle your cost. Or you throw out your expired produce and take a complete loss 🙁