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A shortcut to mushrooms

October 4, 2013

How are you at identifying chanterelles? After the dry summer, several damp days have encouraged all sorts of fungi to appear in the woods in this past week. I have been admiring some beautiful egg-yolk yellow ones under the trees and, yesterday, I suddenly realised that they might be the prized delicacies, chanterelles.,4.10.13-1


Being an amateur in the fungi-foraging department, however, I am a bit wary. Field mushrooms and giant puffballs are the only ones I’ve picked until now. Anyway, I picked one of the yellow mushrooms and took it into our local delicatessen, where the proprietor identified it unquestionably as a chanterelle and asked if I had any more to sell! That same one went into the stew I made last night, and we are still here to tell the tale today.,4.10.13-2


I have been checking books and websites. These fungi smell mouthwateringly of apricots and fresh mushroom. They are growing in acid soil/ moss under mixed fir/ birch woods, all of which is typical of the species. I’m 99% certain that they are true chanterelles.,4.10.13-3


And yet, and yet…I’m still wary. Is this a potential feast or a fiasco? Your advice would be very welcome!,4.10.13-4


You might enjoy Puffball season again.

19 Comments leave one →
  1. October 4, 2013 7:55 pm

    I prefer Tolkien to mushrooms any day 🙂

    • October 4, 2013 11:33 pm

      Ah hah, so you picked up the reference! As a sympathiser with the Professor’s world view, I feel very blessed to live in the beauty of woodland. There may even be Ents here, I think.

  2. October 5, 2013 2:56 am

    The mushrooms in the photos look like (False Chanterelle) Hygrophoropsis aurantiaca to me. Check out some images and info on the web and see if you agree? ciao

    • October 5, 2013 9:10 pm

      Thank you very much for your suggestion. The possibility of their being False Chanterelle was the one I was most worried about. I spent a long time comparing the details of the two in books and online, as well as asking advice, and came to the conclusion that these are in fact the ‘real thing’.
      The final test: I had some fried in butter for lunch. They were utterly delicious, and I seem to be absolutely fine! Thank heavens!

  3. October 6, 2013 3:14 pm

    I was just out mushrooming yesterday, and I came across tons and tons of those as well. I just read that you ate them, so I don’t know whether you are still wanting to know this, but those are not chanterelles. If you were to hold them side by side with a chanterelle, the differences you would notice would be that they are much lighter in weight than real chanterelles, their colour generally (though not always, as mushrooms can vary considerably) is more red or peachy-orange than the bright yellow typical of chanterelles, the false chanterelles tend to have a rounder cap than chanterelles when seen from above, and probably the most telling is the way the gills on the underside of the mushroom look: the chanterelles have thicker, flatter gills while the false chanterelles have gills that are finer, but taller. Also, I find the false chanterelles often have gills that seem to stop all at once in a line… this could happen on a real chanterelle, but is less common. I think if you scrape away the gills of the false chanterelle it will be white underneath, but on a chanterelle the colour will be uniformly yellow. I could be wrong about that last point though… I know that definitely some of the false chanterelles I’ve found are white under their gills, but I haven’t done exhaustive tests, of course.
    While writing this I did an image search to find examples to point out the differences, and I’ve noticed that a lot of people posting photos on the internet are confusing the two mushrooms, which can make things very confusing indeed! Anyway, I’ve heard someone say that in some countries the two mushrooms are used interchangeably (though the person who taught me about mushrooms says they will cause you liver failure in twenty years). Even from one mushroom guide to another there seems to be a great deal of difference in whether mushrooms are classed as edible or not. In one book they will be called fine and tasty, and in another dangerous and to be avoided.
    Anyway, I hope that helps!

  4. October 6, 2013 3:18 pm

    I’d take that part about the liver failure with a grain of salt…. she says that about a lot of mushrooms. I don’t mean to be alarmist, and I am sure you will be fine. I think maybe, when information is passed down from person to person, it is easier to just present things like that so people will be wary. There are some other mushrooms that look like false chanterelles, so maybe that’s just a way of being sure to avoid trouble.
    I maybe should have never started commenting about this!!

    • October 6, 2013 7:49 pm

      Don’t worry, Jodi, I am really grateful for your input. I still can’t decide on these actually. They have that wonderful wholesome apricot smell, and the owner of our local deli gave them a positive ID (he both cooks with chanterelles and buys them for his shop); and the few I tried tasted utterly delicious. On the other hand, I see similarities with the false ones: the gills (I can’t decide about them really) and the darker centres (although the colour is much more yolk-yellow than it looks in the photos. Should I throw the rest out? Maybe. Anyway, don’t worry about me losing sleep over liver damage in 20 years. Something’s gonna get us in the end!

  5. hmunro permalink
    October 7, 2013 10:50 pm

    You poor thing! Such confusing (and alarming) advice! I’d say that if the owner of the deli offered to buy them, they’re probably OK. But if you *do* by chance start seeing ents during your morning walks, perhaps ease up on the fungi, eh? Regardless, lovely photos and a lovely post.

    • October 12, 2013 7:39 pm

      Thanks! You know, I don’t need magic mushrooms to see Ents: my mind works that way anyway. 😉

  6. Erika W. permalink
    October 9, 2013 2:52 pm

    They DO look more like Jack o’ Lanterns to me and these can be quite poisonous. They glow slightly in the dark while growing–good way to identify them from the edible ones. I remember my mother saying “all mushrooms are edible but some of them can only be eaten once!”

    • October 12, 2013 7:40 pm

      Thanks for your advice, Erika. They may be false chanterelles, I think, so I won’t be eating any more of them. Pity, as they were very good – but best not to take chances!

  7. October 16, 2013 9:38 pm

    I’m afraid I haven’t a clue as to what these are or whether they are safe to eat, but I do think they are lovely to look at in shape and colour. It’s a shame you’re not in France where you could take them to the local pharmacy for the pharmacist to identify.

    • October 19, 2013 12:06 am

      That’s what I was thinking! Chanterelles do grow in this part of Scotland – Tesco harvests them from around here – but there are no public experts to ask.

  8. October 18, 2013 9:38 pm

    in Bavaria chantarelles ,or “pfifferlinge” as they call them here, are a yearly treat for us in autumn. They do look different from the ones you found. Deeper orange, more irregularly formed “trumpet” almost a bit frayed, not so thick and whitish at the border, and deeper, darker lamellae with a more gliding transition into the stem ( haha, can you tell I really like them, and cleaned/prepared a ton of those over the last couple of years…eat with tagliatelle, some crispy bacon snippets, fresh chives, and a bit of creme fraiche…delicious!)

    • October 19, 2013 12:08 am

      What an excellent description – and what a wonderful word! ‘Pfifferlinge’ is one of those snuffly-sounding German words that sound to me like a teddy bear with a cold. :)(‘Schluessel’ and ‘Pfeffernusse’ are similar in effect.)
      My mouth is watering from your description. I do hope that I have the chance to try some real ones eventually!

  9. Steven Mushroomguide permalink
    October 29, 2015 6:06 am

    I’m far too late for this, but for future reference, I’m 100% certain these are NOT chanterelles. The description of true ones is correct, as stated below. These mushrooms are not edible in my experience; they make me feel sick. From pine spikes to false chanterelles to Jack-o-lantern mushrooms to sweat-producing clitocybe, I don’t eat hard-to-identify false chanterelles that are known to be inedible or poisonous, in hopes of having no reaction. You may have found something you don’t react to right away. I do not suggest you continue mushrooming without spending 6-10 trips with an expert! Your mistake with this mushroom is telling of a future poisoning, because this type of error should not happen. Your photographs easily fail to match all descriptions of chanterelles I have read. I sound rude here, but I want people to be more cautious. That store owner is dangerous to the public.

    • October 29, 2015 5:46 pm

      Thank you for your comments, Steven. You don’t sound rude, just passionate, and with good reason. I don’t know why I tried these as I am usually super-cautious! I’m also now convinced that they are not chanterelles, and have not touched them since.

      I’ll leave this comment up for a couple of days and then I think I will delete the whole post, as I don’t want to be responsible for muddling anyone else in this potentially life-or-death matter.

  10. Andrew permalink
    November 1, 2015 3:29 pm

    They don’t look like chantarelles. Note the hollow stem in the photo. Chantarelles have solid white, meaty stems. They look like the false variety usually found in corniferous woodlands. Note how regular they look. Chantarelles tend to be irregular with an egg yolk colour not orange.

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