DEVOUR & CONQUER

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Foraging for wild Chanterelle mushrooms

November 6, 2013

One of my favourite things about fall on Vancouver Island is my annual wild mushroom forage with a great friend who has lived here his whole life. He and his family have been kind enough to share their fall mushroom hunts with me for the past few years, and I look forward to the search with much culinary anticipation.

As soon as the rainy, cooler weather started feeling right this year, the urge to head out for a forest hike and forage couldn't be ignored and when my friend and I both had an afternoon free, off we went.

But searching for Chanterelles and other wild mushrooms isn't an exact science, it's more of a treasure hunt through the forest, and part of the enjoyment is seeing the hundreds of non-edible varieties of mushrooms that call British Columbia home along the way.

At one point we came across this perfect little orange trail of mushrooms winding through the thick moss of the forest floor. I wonder how this came to be, could it be a fallen log under the moss giving the right nutrients for the fungi above, or an animal who walked through a patch and spread a trail of spores that took root? Fascinating.

 

As we are right in the heart of fall mushroom season now in November, we saw lots of early mushrooms starting to decay. I love how this bright red one has unfurled its gills, almost looking like a sea anemone.

 

The sheer size and strength of some of these west coast mushrooms is incredible. I couldn't even get my hand around the entire stem of this behemoth, which had pushed at least a pound of soil, pine needles and moss up as it grew. Nature is cool.

After searching for some time, we finally hit the jackpot - White Chanterelles! As you can see in this picture, if you don't know quite what you're looking for, they're very easy to miss. White Chanterelles are prized by chefs for their delicate texture and sweet, white wine flavour. They are much more rare than the also delicious Golden Chantrelles and it was a treat for us to find them in our secret foraging spot of choice.

 

While we didn't find an abundance of Chanterelles, the sheer size of the ones we did find made up for it, most were larger than my hand, and heavy too.

It took us about an hour to forage enough Chanterelles for both of us, though much of that time was really spent enjoying bush-whacking through the trees and exploring the forest. Then we headed back to my friend's house, where his wife (also one of my best buds) was waiting with a roast beef dinner she had prepared in anticipation of our mushroom haul.

Although I stuck to Chanterelles during this forage, I did pick one gorgeous Coral Fungi, which I have found many of in the past, but never eaten before. It's supposed to be out of this world good sauteed in butter (what isn't, really?), I'm planning on cooking it for breakfast tomorrow with bacon and eggs.

 

After cleaning our 'catch', we divided them up and sat down to a gorgeous Sunday roast beef dinner with a side of Chanterelles sauteed with onions, Okanagan white wine from Nk'Mip Cellars and (ultra-decadent) bacon fat. They were ridiculously good and it was such a rewarding end to a great day of enjoying some of the things that make British Columbia and Vancouver Island great - nature, good eats and wine, and like-minded friends to share it all with.

I've since used the rest of my Chanterelles to make a Wild Mushroom Beef Stroganoff and will post the recipe soon, it's a lot of work but wow, worth it. And something tells me I'll be back out in the forest soon for another forage soon.

To learn more about wild Chanterelle Mushrooms, visit this great Wild About Mushrooms website.

To read some of my thoughts and pictures about Chanterelle forests on Vancouver Island destroyed by logging, visit my post here.

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Oh what a haul! What I wouldn't do to be in that forest with you...it's long been a dream of mine to go mushroom hunting!
And then there's that delicious post hunt feast...

They look like very delicious type of mushrooms.

That's really thinikng at a high level

How neat! Is it really this simple? You make it look easy.

Your's is a point of view where real intelligence shines through.

This article keeps it real, no doubt.

Thanks for spending time on the computer (writing) so others don't have to.

We could've done with that insight early on.

You're on top of the game. Thanks for sharing.

If only there were more clever people like you!



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