Let’s start from the beginning, what are chanterelle mushrooms?
Chanterelle mushrooms are widely popular and very coveted. They have a sweet aroma and their color is very bright, so hunting them isn’t too hard.
There are many species of chanterelle to eat, but the most common ones are white chanterelles. However, you can find red chanterelles, yellow foot chanterelles, and black trumpet mushrooms. The latter ones are technically a bit different, but still in the chanterelle family.
How to prepare chanterelle mushrooms
While many mushrooms are big and we tend to cut them into smaller pieces, some chanterelles are relatively small and can be used whole. The texture and their color are considered almost like a cheese curd, so cutting it up can ruin this special flavor and appearance.
If you are harvesting mushrooms, you have to be aware that they may come with a surprise. As with other plants and fungi, chanterelles can have bugs and other insects in them. For best results, if you see a chanterelle that is very firm, check it for holes, if there are any you may want to toss it.
You can still use these chanterelles, but consider using them in things like soups, stews, or sauces, where they don’t have to look pretty. When harvesting, you will likely find mushrooms that look dirty and old, but once you clean them, they become colorful and the aroma comes through.
Time to get cleaning
The best way to clean chanterelle mushrooms is to fill your sink with very cold water, and quickly put them inside to remove the dirt. After cleaning them, place them on a towel to drain. If you think your mushrooms already look clean, you could skip the cleaning step, but you may still want to, just to be safe.
Keep the mushrooms submerged for a limited amount of time, as this keeps them from absorbing too much water. By setting them on the towel, you are also allowing them to dry naturally. If, for some reason, your mushrooms look like they absorbed too much water, simply brown them a bit in a sauté pan.
Cooking chanterelle mushrooms
While cooking these mushrooms is very straightforward, you do need to consider some things before you start. For one, if your chanterelles look small, you should cook them whole, otherwise, they can lose their structure and appearance. These small and young chanterelles are the best for pickling or conserving, so you can use them when you feel like preserving food.
It’s best to always brown your mushrooms, as this process releases all the flavors and aromas. The flavor will be almost creamy and a bit sweet.
When your chanterelles are older, they can seem soft or wrinkly, but they are still very tasty and usable. You can chop them up into smaller pieces, and use them in a soup or duxelles.
If you are harvesting chanterelles, it’s best to use them on their own for the first couple of times, as you will truly get the taste for them and learn how to use them better.
Chanterelles are sweet; so people often compare their flavor to fruits, like apricots, so keep that in mind when you decide what to pair them with. Consider using fewer spices and fatty meats, and instead, go for softer flavors. They go well in carbonara pasta, cheese quiche, gnocchi with herbs, and even in an omelet.
For more ideas, you can check this article on chanterelles and how to recognize them.
Tips for using chanterelles year-round
You can use these mushrooms fresh and sauté them lightly. On the other hand, you can dehydrate them and get a tasty addition to any future dish you have in mind. Since these mushrooms are soft and tender, they absorb fat easily. Chanterelles are best when used with butter or cream for a better and smoother texture.
Also, because these mushrooms are fruity and sweet, they pair well with white wine or rosé. You can add aromatic herbs to any dish that has chanterelles, too. Good herbs to use are thyme, tarragon, or parsley.
Don’t use these mushrooms with red meat, as this flavor will overpower them. However, you can use them in dishes with fish, pork, or poultry.
How to store these mushrooms
Finally, if you are not ready to use all your chanterelles, consider storing them in a paper bag, or in a bowl that is loosely covered with paper towel. If you dehydrate them, they can be stored in a jar in a cool, dry place, or the freezer for up to a year.
If you have never heard of chanterelle mushrooms, it’s time to go find some. The flavor and texture are unique, and you will fall in love with how decadent dishes can become when you add them.