(Cantharellus cibarius group)
Chanterelles are one of the most well-known and popular wild edible mushrooms in the world. They are easy to recognize because of their bright yellow color and a delightful contrast to the more somber colors of the forest floor. Chanterelles have gills that are rounded over and not sharp, knife-edged, like most other gilled fungi and their flesh is white inside.
Recent studies have split up this group of mushrooms with the discovery that the true "Cantharellus cibarius" only exists in Europe, even though most field guides say otherwise. Our most common species is Cantharellus enelensis, a species defined up in Labrador but found to carpet most of the New England forests. The other common sister species are the cute little Lilliputian-sized Yellow Foots or the Winter Chanterelle, Craterellus ignicolor, lateritius and tubaeformis, which also grow in our local woods. Look for them near Hemlocks and Spruce. The only real look-alike to them are the poisonous Jack O'Lantern mushrooms which are also orange but they grow directly out of wood, grow often in dense clusters and have orange colored flesh. Be sure to cook any Chanterelles you find for a long time. They are not vegetables but rather members of the separate kingdom of fungi. Their tissue requires long cooking, about 10 minutes or more and they are a great accompaniment to any meal with a bit of salt and lemon on them or in any chicken stir fry. Remember, before eating any wild mushroom, know the mushroom well and know its look-alikes. Enjoy.
Gary Gilbert teaches mushrooms locally and through the Boston Mycological Club. He is also the originator of Mycocards.com, flashcards for learning mushrooms.