Pacific Golden Chanterelle - Cantharellus formosus
aka 'Pfifferling' or "Girolle"
Golden Chanterelles are hands down, my favourite mushroom to cook with(followed closely by white Matsutake). They are uniquely different than most mushrooms you will find in the forest, and absolutely unrivaled in aesthetic appeal. Their bright yellow colour can be spotted, hundreds of feet away, making this mushroom an easy mushroom for novice pickers to hunt. I dont know what endorphins are released when you stumble onto a patch of these, but it feels really goood. They are found in abundance all over the world, especially on the west coast of North America, around the Great Lakes region, Russia, Poland, and in the Scandinavian countries. It is probably the most commercially harvested mushroom globally and theres a reason for that. They're absolutely delectable! Im certain you could make Chanterelles work in any dish, even deserts. You heard me, deserts!! Thats right, Chanterelles have a nice subtle apricot flavour that you can capture with a vodka aperitif. I want to make a Golden Chanterelle flavoured icecream!!
Did you know? The Eastern Golden Chanterelle fruits in the summer and the Western Golden Chanterelle fruits in the fall and winter months!
How To Identify The Golden Chanterelle.
There are very few mushrooms that leave that lasting first impression, like the Golden Chanterelle. Its vibrant yellow colour and dense white meat. Odorless, unless you detect the slight scent of apricot. Growing under Hemlock & Fir on the west coast, single to many growing on the ground in mossy areas. It likes high humidity and heavy rainfall, so check low lying areas and old riverbeds if youre hunting on a mountain.
Cap: Bright Yellow-Orange, Wide, convex, becoming flat with inrolled wavy margin and sunken in the center. Top of cap is smooth/velvet like.
False Gills: Thick ridges, forked and sometimes crossveined, descending down the stipe. Yellow-Orange
Stipe: Thick and solid meat, will tear in fibrous strips. Flesh is white
Spore Colour: Pale Yellow
**Poisonous Look-Alike: The Jack-o'-lantern Mushroom - Omphalotus olearius
If you're West of the Rocky Mountains, I wouldnt worry too much about this, its for people East of the Rockies. There is one mushroom that looks somewhat similar to Golden Chanterelles, and is sometimes brought home by novice pickers, who get sick from eating it. Dont fret! The Jack-o'-lantern mushroom is easy to identify! It grows on wood and is not mycorrhizal like Golden Chanterelles, however, it can appear like its growing from the ground, if the wood is hidden under the moss or soil. It often grows in clusters, whereas Chanterelles usually grow alone or in small groups. The Jack-o'-lantern is also usually a darker orange hue, where as Golden Chanterelles are a beautiful yellow. The meat of the Jack-o'-lantern is more orange, where the Golden Chanterelle has white meat. It probably wont kill you, but it wont be a pleasant experience. Be Careful if its your first time picking Chanterelles and ask a seasoned forager to confirm the ID for you before ingesting.