Laura Levine
Stalking the Wild Chanterelle
posted: July 10, 2007
Every summer right about this time I return to a secret spot in upstate New York to pick chanterelles. Because chanterelles are so predictable (they come back up in the same spot every year) it's a little akin  to shooting fish in a barrel. But what's special about this spot is how many there are. Sometimes there's a veritable blanket of orange on the forest floor.

Timing is everything in the chanterelle hunt. Pick them too early and they've hardly had time to mature; come too late, and the slugs and bugs have gotten to them before you. There's plenty of poison ivy to deal with, and they have a tendency to grow under thorn bushes.

On the other hand, where there's one, there's usually an entire family - look around and you'll see plenty of others poking their heads up. I've seen them grow in fairy rings, almost a perfect circle. Sometimes I'll see a tell-tale bump under a pile of leaves and I know there's a chanterelle under there. Once I reached for a chanterelle and there, not four inches from my hand, was a tiny baby deer, silently sitting under a tree, all but invisible.

They're great sauteed with scrambled eggs, with pasta, in soup, in tarts.

(Btw, there's a similar-looking mushroom called the Jack O'Lantern, which is toxic, so one should never do this without a knowledgeable guide).
today's catch...
In the wild...
Brian Stauffer July 10, 2007
The shot of the red dressed young lady is striking.
J.D. King July 10, 2007
Brian, what was it Freud said about what's on a man's mind? Laura, are you going to invite Drawgerdom over for a feast of sauteed mushrooms? PS: Pretty cat!
Joseph Fiedler July 10, 2007
Sister Levine Kudos on the "foodie" article. There's a great mushroom hunt sequence in Michael Pollan's book "The Omnivores Dilemma". They go great with beer by the way!
Marc July 10, 2007
Janice and I were in the Black Forest and Alsace last August, and you could hardly order anything there that didn't come smothered with chanterelles in late summer (pfifferlingen, in the local parlance). Don't see them much in Texas, however. Looks like fun hunting!
Christoph Hitz July 10, 2007
Laura, Thanks for reminding me to go and check my chanterlle patch. I can't believe it's that time of the year already. I'm drooling just looking at Your pictures!
prinsengracht July 10, 2007
i am sorry to intrude, but to insure that mushrooms come back the next year you need to leave the roots in the soil by cutting mushrooms off, rather then pulling them out entirely. great mushroom portrait!
Laura Levine July 10, 2007
Thanks, Brian, that's one of my favorite pics. JD - Kitty Gumdrop says thank you! Brother Fiedler - I'll check it out. Marc - yum! Christoph - tell me what you find! they were a little late this year, I think because it wasn't warm enough. Prinsengracht - thanks. I used to think that too, but I've since learned that there is an extensive underground root system (mycelium) from which the mushrooms fruit, and picking them without cutting them at ground level does no significant harm to the underground system (similar to picking apples off an apple tree). At least, for chanterelles, I was told. (?)
Cathleen Toelke July 10, 2007
I think I need to go on a chanterelle hunt in the environs here! Yum. But I'll be afraid to eat them.
Cathie Bleck July 10, 2007
We usually have huge mushrooms growing in our front yard here in Cleveland this time of year, but with this drought (no rain since June 19th) all we have is dust and withered grass. I am not complaining...all this sunshine has been addicting. Thanks for sharing the forest, feast and photos. What town are you in up there as I will be traveling in the vicinity first week of August?
prinsengracht July 11, 2007
Laura, sorry, i did not know about "mycelium". it's just my russian "know all about mushrooms" ego prevailed... chanterelles are the most wonderful of mushrooms in my opinion, and especially delicious when harvested in the wild. Congratulations!
Alex Murawski July 11, 2007
Ah Laura, I miss those little beauties so much. There is nothing better but we rarely see them in any quantity down here. But two summers ago we had nothing but rain and shade, and Chanterelles by the shopping bag. It was glorious. Now I am envious. Enjoy!
Zina Saunders July 11, 2007
Thanks for the post, Laura. There's a group here in the city called the New York Mycological Society that go mushroom hunting in the parks around town. It's amazing how many tasty little mushrooms there are, right under our eyes and feet, if we only look.