How to Pick Chanterelle Mushrooms

One of nature's finest delicacies can be found in your nearby woods or forest: the wild, edible mushroom. Many species of these fungi in the grocery store are costly and usually old. Picking your own is a fun way to get out into the great outdoors and experience the thrill of gathering your own food, and will also lend you fresh mushrooms!


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    Find an experienced mushroom forager and ask to tag along on a foray. The best way to learn how to identify a mushroom is to go with someone knowledgeable and have them show you how to identify them. Many cities have a mycological society that you can join; sometimes they organize group forays. If the society has a forum, use it. There's a much better chance of an experienced forager agreeing to teach you his or her ways if you:
    • Offer to drive or pay for the gas.
    • Promise never to visit the spots they show you, ever.
    • Insist that you don't want to take any mushrooms home, you just want to learn and observe.
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    Check if chanterelles grow in your area. The chanterelle grows in many parts of North America. The 'summer' species of the chanterelles are a deep yellow color and are in the shape of a trumpet when full-grown. This makes them quite easy to spot in the forest once you have stumbled upon an area conducive to their growth.
    • The best seasons of the year to hunt the wild chanterelle are late summer and early fall, depending on the amount of rainfall the area has received. Mushrooms must have a good amount of rain in order to grow. So, if your hunting area has had a decent, wet summer, start your search in late August or early to mid September. If you go out and see small chanterelles peeking up from the moss, just give them a couple of weeks to mature, then return to the area to harvest.
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    Learn to identify trees, such as hemlock and Douglas fir. Chanterelles tend to grow from the roots of these trees. If the ground is grassy or if there is a lot of leaf litter (instead of pine needles), you will probably not find chanterelles in the vicinity.
    • Shown in this picture is a branch from a Douglas fir tree.
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    Look carefully for slivers of orange peeking out from the ground. Can you spot the chanterelles in this picture? If you find one chanterelle, there are probably more nearby. Check the area surrounding the closest tree. Look at the ground from as many different angles as possible. Step carefully so you won't crush any chanterelles.
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    Cut the mushroom at the base. While experienced mushroom hunters may debate the merits of cutting versus pulling, most people cut. Set the harvested mushrooms in a mesh laundry or burlap bag, as this allows the spores to fall onto the forest floor.
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    Verify your chanterelle's identity! The poisonous "look-alikes" most likely to cause problems are Jack-O'-Lantern mushrooms of the genus Omphalotus. While these are easily distinguished from chanterelles by a sensible observer, carelessness can lead to a nasty set of digestive symptoms. In some locations, lethal Cortinarius species, which have true gills, may have similar orange coloration to the chanterelle. This can lead to dangerous confusion when someone attempts to identify a mushroom based solely on photographs.[1]
    • Chanterelles have deep wrinkles or ridges underneath their caps, but do not have plate-like gills. Omphalotus species have true gills. Note the ridges in this picture. They are thick and not clearly separated. The ridges combine and split, unlike in gills.
    • Chanterelles grow in soil. Omphalotus species grow on decaying wood - but the wood may be buried and almost entirely decayed.
    • Omphalotus species may attain an olive tinge in age, but this is not to be relied upon.
    Other look-alikes include:
    Image titled Pick Chanterelle Mushrooms Step 7
    • The False Chanterelle Hygrophoropsis aurantiaca, which, like members of Omphalotus, has true gills. This mushroom may cause digestive upsets.
    • Gomphus floccosus is trumpet-shaped and ridged, like the chanterelle, but has a scaly, reddish-orange cap. Like Hygrophoropsis, it causes indigestion in some people.
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    Enjoy your harvest! Some say that all the preparation chanterelles need is a brushing to remove debris, while others will rinse them. If you rinse the mushrooms, leave them out to dry. When cooking chanterelles, many people get the best results by dry sautéing them to release excess water. The flavor of these mushrooms is light; don't put them in a very rich or savory dish.


  • Carry a reliable field guide and use the provided key to identify any supposed chanterelle. Do not work solely from photographs; if your field guide provides photographs, but only scant descriptions, it is not a safe field guide to use. At the bare minimum, you should be able to distinguish Omphalotus from your chanterelles.


  • Never eat a mushroom until you are 100 percent sure that it is edible. If you have any doubts whatsoever, discard!
  • Be aware of local laws regulating mushroom collection. In some locations you can be hit with a hefty fine if you are caught with wild chanterelles and no permit to collect.

Things You'll Need

  • Basket or container to hold the mushrooms
  • Good walking clothing (layers are best as the weather begins to cool) and suitable, comfortable shoes
  • A friend – it's always more fun to mushroom hunt together

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