Ah…the time has come. Warm dry days in July followed by a healthy rain. In the woods for miles around Lochaber the chanterelles are beginning to stir. In a few days, like magic, little beads of gold will begin to shine on the mossy forest floor. Hours later they will begin to look like an umbrella popped open and reversed by the wind. This is when they are best. They will continue to grow and become large, more ragged and nibbled on by occasional slugs or mice. They are still good. Their color is best described as that of a free range chicken egg yolk…..rich yellow/gold.
For those who are timid to eat wild mushrooms, my advice is don’t guess. Although there are many edible mushrooms in this area, and I gather several, I only eat those that I am absolutely certain as to their identity. Chanterelles are the easiest. And where there are some….there are usually plenty. They are found in many habitats, even road edges but the best sites are coniferous forests tall enough to have a mossy floor. When you pick them, cut off at the base with a pocket knife leaving the bottom intact with the soil. This insures there will be another crop in the same place next year.
Pick plenty…they store beautifully. To freeze, sauté lightly, bag and freeze. To dry, put out in the hot sun for as long as it takes for them to be totally dry or process in a food drier and store in large glass jars. They will last for years.