Foraging for Fungi in the FLX
By Laura Gallup
June in the Finger Lakes is the beginning of chanterelle season. But if you want local, wild chanterelles, you’ll have to try them at home. While other states have regulation systems set up for the sale of mushshrooms, New York State Department of Health does not allow wild-picked mushrooms in food service establishments.
This coveted mushroom is not cultivated because it lives in symbiosis with trees, so a traipse through the woods is the best way to find them. Wondering what this fungi is like? Lifelong FLX forager and field identification expert Carl Whittaker says “They are better than regular mushrooms, they have a lighter flavor. They have a scent reminiscent of apricots. If you stick your nose in a bag of fresh chanterelles, it’s a nice, sweet fruity aroma.”
Tips for finding, storing and cooking:
- Do your research before chomping on any wild mushrooms as many are poisonous (the saying goes “If you get bold, you won’t grow old!”)
- Look for the yellow or orange funnel-shaped caps growing in the dirt under oak, hickory and beach trees.
- To harvest, cut the stem and leave the base.
- You can pick them immediately when they’re small, but it’s best to wait until they’re bigger to get the most mushroom.
- Avoid ones with pin holes in top, they will have bugs.
- To clean, tear the mushroom in half and use a small brush to get out all the dirt. Do not wash.
- Store in the fridge in a paper bag for up to ten days, or sauté in butter and freeze. You can also dry them.
- Add them to dishes like you would any other mushroom.
Laura Gallup is the managing editor for Edible Finger Lakes as well as the marketing and events coordinator for the Ithaca Farmers Market. She grew up eating strawberries by the bucketful on her dad’s farm in Hector, NY.
This article originally appeared in the May/June 2019 edition of the magazine.