INTO THE WOODS WITH WOOD
As a nation we’ve become a little scared of picking mushrooms, says forager James Wood. Look for golden chanterelle and you’ll be fine
Mushroom hunters have been held at the starting blocks this year, eagerly waiting for rain. I was glad to see droplets fall from the sky and the mycelium (body of the mushroom) is starting to produce a fantastic flush on fungi. As a country we’ve all become scared of mushrooms so I’m going to keep it simple with chanterelle mushrooms.
Golden chanterelle (known as girolle to most chefs) - Cantharellus cibarius - is often found in dense golden clusters in all types of woodland, growing up to 10cm tall and 10cm across, but often found smaller, they’re called gold of the woods. The cap, golden yellow in colour, starts growth beginning rounded (1-2cm), later flattening out with a wavy edge and if left to continue growing starts to funnel (up to 10cm). There aren’t official gills on this mushroom, however there’s gill like ridges running down the stem, that resemble the crumpling and folding you see on dried raisin skins. They smell like apricots. The one mushroom you need to be wary of when looking for the golden chanterelle is something called the false chanterelle (Hygrophoropsis aurantiaca). This is dark orange, has a spongey top, true forked gills and is bright orange in the centre, all of which make it different from golden chanterelle.
James Wood is a renowned experimental wild food forager running wild food cookery and foraging courses throughout Cheshire. His book ‘The Foragers’ Cookbook’ is now available through the website: www.totallywilduk.co.uk @totallywilduk