21 May 2007

The Spring Chanterelles (Girolles) are out.

The Girolles (Cantharellus cibarius) or Spring Chanterelles have started to appear with a vengence. We've already collected 15 kilos in three early morning forages from very specific "Girolle" areas on our land, mostly where there a bit of chalk, a few nearby Pines and under Chestnut and Oak trees.

Foraging basket full of Chanterelles or GirollesSome people advise that mushrooms should only be harvested by cutting the stems, but we always pluck them gently from the soil. Fabrice's family has been harvesting them from the same woods like this for generations and my understanding is that cutting can lead to bacteria entering the damaged area and destroy the mycellium. There's certainly no shortage of fungi on our land and we always find enough to be able to eat them all year round. Chanterelles are best fresh, but they can be kept for a few months covered in oil, or for years sterilised in Kilner jars. I've never managed to dry them successfully.

Chanterelles are really delicious and are a treat in a simple omelette or in a casserole, or even fried in butter and served as an appéro with chives and sprinkled with a few Borage flowers.

They are easy to identify but they can be confused with two other mushrooms. One is the edible (but boring) false Chanterelle Hygrophoropsis aurantiaca and the other one is the Jack O'Lantern, Omphalotus illudens. (Previously called olivascens) That one is poisonous and although it won't kill you will make you wish you were dead! (As they say!) This site will give you some more information on Dangerous Chanterelle look-alikes

Jack O'Lantern is really interesting because the gills glow in the dark. Tom Volk's Fungus amazing site has more information on this species.

If you want to see them glowing then as soon as they're gathered, wrap the stems in a damp cloth or wet paper towel, then look in complete darkness for a while to let your eyes get used to the blackness. Then look slowly at the mushrooms. You can see the glowing a greenish-yellowy colour, some are brighter than others.

For some strange reason I've always had an affinity with mushrooms. I love their taste and I love gathering them silently in the woods. The pleasure I get from bringing them home is like no other. I reckon I was a "hunter-gatherer" in another life.


Karen said...

Wow Irene you've been busy lots of posts to catch up on here! We let our chickens out in the garden the other day but couldn't get anywhere due to them "helping" all the time

Irene said...

It's been raining here quite a lot, so instead of doing outdoor work I'm in the office doing, ahem, "paperwork".

Our chickens always want to help too ! I usually turn over the compost heap if I've got a bit of planting to do. That keeps the chickens occupied and out of my way for a while.

Lori said...

I also love mushrooms. Thank you for your post.

Lady D said...

i dont like mushroom but i likes that photos..
seem delicious with omelette

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