Identify and Harvest your own Winter Chanterelle Mushrooms.
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Hunting or foraging for Winter Chanterelle Mushrooms on Vancouver Island, BC. The wild mushroom, Craterellus tubaeformis, is also called the Yellow Foot or Yellow Legs and it’s easily identified. We harvest, clean, and cook these delicious wild mushrooms. Our Winter Chanterelle wild mushroom recipe for flaky tarts is a homestead favourite.
Hunting for Wild Mushrooms
Winter Chanterelle (Craterellus tubaeformis)
This is Kent from MAN about TOOLS and it was a beautiful Sunday morning on Vancouver Island when we headed out to look for Winter Chanterelle Mushrooms.
My wife and I have been picking mushrooms for years and we have one rule. If you can’t identify it, then it’s poison. So do your homework and go out with someone who knows mushrooms in your area, and don’t eat anything you don’t know.
It’s just above freezing and there’s been quite a bit of rain recently. Waterproof, breathable hiking gear and rubber boots are a must. We are looking specifically for Winter Chanterelle mushrooms here on the west coast. They like to grow in mossy, dark areas with a lot of rotting trees. The summer was very dry this year so we’re not sure if we are too early yet to find any.
We bring a small bucket and knife with us to cut and collect them.
We think foraging for wild food is part of becoming more resilient and self-sufficient. It’s something we can do together and we like to get out in the woods whenever we can.
We did find a lot of mushrooms in general on this first outing so that was a good sign that we might find Chanterelles. We only pick what we know to be edible. And although these look beautiful, we leave them right where they are.
Finally we spotted a little cluster of Winter Chanterelles. They have a distinctive shape and colour and once you know what to look for they really stand out. They are delicate and usually come out quite clean.
It was our first find of the day and Marilyn had to dig a bit to get them out. When you’ve been searching all day you don’t want to leave any behind.
Here’s another small cluster of two. This first day didn’t yield much but we figured it’s early in the season yet.
A Week Later
We came back the next weekend and did better. We started finding bigger mushrooms and in more numerous clusters.
Some of the distinguishing features of this mushroom are it’s dimpled cap, it’s bright yellow stem that is often wrinkled, and the spore surface that’s a vein-like structure under the cap that blends into the hollow stem.
We have several books in our home library on wild mushroom foraging.
In our area these wild mushrooms are called the Winter Chanterelle but they can also be referred to as the Yellow Foot or the Funnel Chanterelle. We pronounce it “shan-trel” but it’s probably more accurate to say “shan-tA-rel”
The Best Yet
The following weekend was the best. We found the biggest clusters.
The Winter Chanterelle are similar to the ones found in the fall but they are smaller and have a hollow stem.
And then all that searching paid off, it seemed like we found the mother load. In just one area we found many many clusters of Chanterelles. This is where it gets to be really fun and you fill your bucket quite quickly.
In The Kitchen
Marilyn starts by cleaning the mushrooms we found. She uses a small brush to gently remove any dirt, moss, or needles. And scissors to trim off the ends.
She will be making Mushroom Tarts from these Chanterelles. They will be fried with and onion and put in puff pastry.
We stored them in our woodshed for a week or so and they held out well in the cooler temperatures.
She does not wash the mushrooms because it seems like they soak up too much water this way and become soggy.
Once she has cleaned the mushrooms she dices an onion and fries it in a pan on the stove. And then deglazes the pan with a bit of water.
The cleaned mushrooms are then chopped and added to the pan with the onions.
Garlic is pressed and added with salt and pepper.
Bread is toasted then chopped on a cutting board. The pieces are then turned into crumbs with a Magic Bullet grinder. These crumbs are then mixed into the onions and mushrooms frying in the pan.
This is then pulled from the heat and into a stainless steel bowl where feta cheese is blended in.
The oven is preheating while puff pastry is rolled out on a large cutting board. One sheet is cut into six pieces then a heaping tablespoon of the mushroom filling is dropped in the center of each square.
Egg is brushed on the to seal the edges before the pastry is folded over. A fork helps seal the edges.
The tarts are set on a baking sheet. When the oven is hot enough the tarts are baked until golden brown.
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