Rain, rain, rain and more rain. This has been the weekly forecast for the months of June and July this year. Hopes of outdoor bbq’s, sun-filled boating trips and storm-free ball games have mostly been washed away. For those who are foto-foraging or foraging for wild edibles, the constant rain has delivered new rays of sunshine in the soggy, bug-filled woods. These flashes of yellow, orange and red have appeared in overwhelming numbers all over the Pittsburgh region. This year, I have found 4 different varieties (Cantharellus “cibarius”, Cantharellus lateritius, Cantharellus minor and Cantharellus cinnabarinus).
This abundance has allowed me to practice my cooking techniques and try new recipes. To my chagrin, I rapidly discovered how rusty my cooking skills have become. Through practice, I seem to be improving. I especially enjoy the hint of apricot wafting from the sauté pan.
IMPORTANT: For those who are new to mushroom identification, please do your research before “trying this at home.” There is a poisonous mushroom called the Jack O’Lantern mushroom (Omphalotus illudens) which has the same color and to the untrained eye can appear to be a Chanterelle. There are a few things that allow you to know the difference. Chanterelles are terrestrial, meaning that they grow from the dirt. Jacks grow from wood instead. Sometimes Jacks can appear to be terrestrial but they are actually growing from buried wood. In this case, it is important to know the difference between true gills and false gills. Chanterelles have false gills or are smooth underneath. Another difference is the color of the inside of the mushroom which is revealed by slicing it down the middle. Chanterelles are white inside and Jacks are orange or “orange-ish.” There are other mushrooms that are considered “look-alikes” and this link is a good place to start your research if you are interested.