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Should you be lucky enough to come across them in the shade of a forest, you’ll recognize their golden tops enchantingly and harmoniously speckled across the mossy earth, or comfortably nestled among patches of green leaves on the forest floor. Whether found in the wild or at a grocery store, these woodland jewels with their light apricot and woodsy aromas are indeed something to be savored. Some call them chanterelles, some call them girolles, and some others, pfifferlinge—regardless of the name, they remain some of the most popular and delightful mushrooms in the world. They’re tasty and easy to prepare and have the potential to elevate your dish in terms of flavor, refinement, and aesthetics.

1. Hello, my name is chanterelle

Cantharellus is a genus of edible mushrooms commonly known as chanterelles. The name comes from the Greek kantharus, an ancient drinking cup, because their bodies grow upward from the stem forming a cup-like shape. This species contains antioxidant beta-carotene, iron, vitamins (particularly B, C, and D), manganese, potassium, and more.

Chanterelles can range from milky-white to yellow, orange, brown, red, black, and even blue in color, but the golden chanterelle is the most well known and consumed one. They’re classified as a wild food because they’re mycorrhizal fungi, meaning they form symbiotic associations with the plants surrounding them. This is an expensive and challenging process to replicate, which is why chanterelles aren’t really cultivated but, instead, left to grow naturally.

2. When (and how) to buy perfect chanterelles

When chanterelles are fresh, their color should be vibrant, their flesh firm and dry, and the gill-like ridges under the cap intact. Avoid ones that have mold spots or damaged ridges, or that appear wet, slimy, or darkened.

The availability of common chanterelles varies depending on where you are in the world, but they’re usually available from around late spring to late fall—so keep your eyes open at farmers’ markets and independent grocery and wholefood stores! You might also find them at larger stores that are known to stock a good variety of seasonal delights and delicacies.

Another option is mushroom foraging. However, since there are many poisonous mushrooms out in the wild—and false chanterelles and jack-o'-lantern mushrooms can often be mistaken for golden chanterelles—foraging should only be undertaken by or with people who are experienced and knowledgeable about which mushrooms are edible and which ones aren’t.

There are opposing schools of thought as to whether or not to wash chanterelles in water before cooking. If they’ve just been picked, they do need to be very well cleaned before being prepped and eaten, so foragers should not avoid this step. Chanterelles found in supermarkets and grocery stores have usually been cleaned to some degree, so it’s normally enough to brush any remaining dirt away and give them a gentle wipe with a damp cloth just before cooking.

3. How to store chanterelles

The total time you can store chanterelles for varies depending on the condition of the mushrooms when purchased and when they were picked. Freshly picked, unwashed chanterelles can keep for up to 10 days in the fridge. If you buy them packaged and there’s a use-by date, let that be your guide. If buying them loose at a market or grocery store, the people working there should be able to tell you how fresh they are.

Keep raw chanterelles in a paper bag or in a bowl loosely covered with a kitchen towel, as it’s important to let them breathe. Be sure to refrigerate them immediately and check at least once a day to make sure they haven’t turned too moist or slimy. If that happens, the affected ones should be discarded.

As chanterelles are naturally high in water, we’d suggest dry frying before storing them in order to release any excess moisture: In a frying pan over medium-low heat with no butter or oil, add the clean mushrooms and sautée for approx. 5 – 10 min. (or until they release their juices and reabsorb them), stirring or tossing constantly. After that, remove from heat and set aside to cool for a few minutes, then store them in a sealed container in the fridge or in the freezer.

4. All the ways to enjoy chanterelles

Whether you’re on a meat, vegetarian, or vegan diet, chanterelles will fit in wonderfully with their earthy, meaty, sweet, and mildly peppery flavor. When combining them with bold ingredients, be sure to balance the flavors so that the chanterelles’ milder contribution doesn’t get lost in the mix.

Some of the best ingredients to pair them with are, for example, other members of the fungi family, herbs, butter, bacon, meat, fish, wine, onions, eggs, garlic, ginger, soy sauce, nuts, pasta, rice, bread, mild cheeses (like ricotta), or strong-flavored cheeses (like Pecorino) used to lightly season a dish.

5. What to make next

Eager to put your newly acquired knowledge to use? We'll be releasing new chanterelle recipes all week, so keep checking back! Here’s where to start:

Chanterelle-stuffed baked potatoes

Chanterelle-stuffed baked potatoes

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Chanterelle mushroom butter

Chanterelle mushroom butter

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Chanterelle Gruyère tart

Chanterelle Gruyère tart

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More delicious ideas for you