One of the delicacies that are sure to enchant the taste buds of any master chef is Chanterelle mushrooms. Its meaty edible content can indulge the senses with a discreet aroma of a fresh citrus. Some connoisseurs might perceive even a peppery taste. If you want to grow your own stash of extravagant specialties, you can use this guide to learn how to care for chanterelle mushrooms.
Why Are Chanterelle Mushrooms so Precious?
First of all, their exquisite taste has made any food savvy a fan of this fungus. Secondly, this plant has also a lively appearance with bright colors of orange and yellow. They can be used to adorn a dish and lend it some unique touch.
Moreover, it is the difficult level of growing such a culinary delicacy that sets its market price to be off the roof. Scientists still didn’t manage to find a way to raise this mushroom in large commercial amounts. Therefore, it is its delightful taste and rare nature that sets it apart from all other edible specialties.
On top of that, its historical heritage places it as a royal food. Back in the 18th century, France served its king’s nobility table the first dish sprinkled with Chanterelle mushrooms. In today’s world, they are enriching the culinary culture of North America and Europe.
How to Identify the Real from its Poisonous Versions
Before learning how to grow chanterelle mushrooms, it is best to learn its features and how to identify them by heart.
The first trait that can expose the edible fungus from the beginning is its fake gills. Their location is right on the underside of the mushroom, and they are in fact interlaced wrinkles that look like forked folds. They are quite resistant when you try to remove them. Moreover, they seem like melted bee wax.
By comparison, real gills are well-marked structures that look like an organized collection of blades. You can easily pluck one individual gill from the mushroom without much effort.
The cap is also useful for identification. It usually develops to a vase or convex shape and has bright nuances of yellow or orange. However, the Cantharellus persicinus species has a color reminiscent of a peach.
Another distinctive trait is its stem. This single foot is smooth and will never show signs of any bulb, lump or ring around its base. It has the same color as the cap and is not hollow at all.
Synergy with Trees
Chanterelle is mycorrhizal. This means that it cannot live without initiating a symbiotic relationship with one of its favorite trees. With this occasion, it is a good time to learn how to grow your own trees. These two entities help each other to evolve in a harmonious manner. This is why any mushroom you find on its own without even a tree root near it is most certainly not a chanterelle mushroom no matter how strikingly similar a look it may have.
Now that you know how to spot a real chanterelle, it is time to meet its deceitful versions. These are the false chanterelle and Jack o’lantern. Even though they are as beautiful as the edible one, they contain some harmful chemicals. While they are not fatal, they can cause some serious health issues.
Jack o’lanterns have toxin muscarine that can lead to acute diarrhea and cramps after a meal. The best way to set them apart is by looking at their gills. They might have the same vivid colors as the real chanterelle. However, they have real gills which are similar to a collection of sharp blades.
Moreover, Jack o’lanterns can give its disguise away by growing far from trees. As they are not mycorrhizal, they can grow as they please. Another specific difference is that the toxic ones love to develop in large groups. By comparison, chanterelle mushrooms like to be on their own or with a few others of its type that have their own stems.
The other alter ego of the chanterelle is more similar in looks with them than Jack o’lanterns. Some specialists claim that this plant is edible as well. However, its taste cannot equalize the flavor of the true chanterelle. It is too bitter to be considered a delicacy. Moreover, other people suggest that these plants can trigger serious digestive issues. This is why it is best to learn how to identify them in order to avoid them.
Once again, the main difference lies underneath their caps. The false chanterelle has true gills. However, this time the blades are forked on the edges, but they still resemble some sharp sheets of paper.
Moreover, the color of the false version is another trait that gives it away. It has brighter nuances of orange, and you will never find one with a yellow color. On top of that, the nuance is not uniform but graded with a darker orange at the center of the cap.
Materials You Are Going to Need
If you want to have control over the spots you want your crops of chanterelle mushrooms, you are going to need some spores. The only way to get them is by purchasing an entire pack of fresh mushrooms.
Other things that are important for this operation are a garden rake and a soil tester.
Choose the Best Location for You and Chanterelle Mushrooms
Growing chanterelle mushrooms looks more like racing fate. The plant needs ideal conditions for it to grow. They need a perfect environment and one of its favorite trees for their roots.
As such, the best comrades that can provide for such a fungus are pine, birch, beech, and spruce. Moving forward, the best environment for them is a soil with good drainage and low signs of nitrogen.
So, you will want to test the soil near one of the above trees to confirm if a location is good or not. Therefore, take the soil tester and measure the PH level. This scale should display values between 4 and 5.5.
If none of your nearby areas have the proper balance, there is no need to give up. You can apply some chemistry basics and encourage the pH to rise with the help of some lime or sodium chloride. These elements are perfect for lowering the levels.
An inside industry secret dictates that chanterelle mushrooms shouldn’t be planted next to a tree that is already hosting other mycorrhizal plants. It is uncertain why this is bad for business. However, it is said that such fungi enter in competition with one another and the prize is whole access to the tree. Therefore, your spores might not make it through the day around such species.
Now that you decided on a location, you should prepare the spot a little. Rake the soil with a garden tool and make sure no portion remains compact. Such mushrooms can’t develop in rough conditions. Therefore, you should also avoid generating foot traffic in this area.
Plant Chanterelle Spores
The ideal period of time to start off your own stash of chanterelle mushrooms is the month of July. You should respect this condition and don’t hurry to begin the project sooner than this.
The fact about chanterelle spores is that they are not visible to the naked eye. Therefore, you can’t find chanterelle seeds at the local market in a container. As a consequence, the best way to ensure a successful plantation is to use an entire mushroom. Make sure no one has washed the plant beforehand. The water might steal the spores away from the fungus.
Break it apart over the designated location and sprinkle the resulting parts gently around. To increases chances of a growing crop, you can repeat the seeding procedure with other mushrooms in the same spot as well.
Do not move the pieces around. Each of them might contain valuable spores within or on them. As long as you offered them the ideal conditions before planting, they will grow on their own.
As soon as they hit a generous size, your Chanterelle mushrooms are ready for harvest. However, this process requires some preparations as well. While some people might encourage you to pull them out of the ground, this might ruin the chances for a re-grow.
Therefore, the best way to harvest your delicious fungi is to cut them from the base with a sharp knife or scissors. By leaving the base behind, the plant has chances to re-grow for a second harvest. Before leaving the location, you can also scatter some small parts in the same spot for spores to reach the soil.
How to Prepare Your Mushrooms for Storage
You should prepare your Chanterelle mushrooms as soon as you reach the kitchen. Since you left the stem ends behind, there’s not much else to do. You can eliminate dirt or any other debris with a soft cloth or paper towel. Make sure your moves are gentle. It is best to skip the washing part unless it is absolutely necessary.
If you plan to use the stash sometime in the following ten days, you can store them in the veggie keeper compartment of the fridge. However, you should first place them in a paper bag.
On the other hand, if you are looking for a prolonged storage period, you can resort to the freezing method. Nonetheless, before that, it is best to cook them. This way, their flavor will be much richer when you decide to use them finally.
Therefore, you are going to need a bit of oil or butter to cook your quartered mushrooms in a frying pan. You can stir them for a couple of minutes at a medium heat.
You can then proceed to freeze them in their own cooking liquid. However, you can also save the liquid for cooking soups. This will give your meals an extra boost of taste.
Chanterelle mushrooms might be a culinary delicacy. However, as said before, there is no secret formula to cultivate these wild plants. Therefore, your first attempts might not enjoy much success. Nonetheless, they require no maintenance at all, so there’s no reason why not to give it a shot. Best of luck!