I’ve been spoilt on the west coast of Scotland with a foray into the oak forests with Susie on the hunt for chanterelles. Here they've had no appreciable rain for three months. It’s tinder dry and even the midges were less than usual, so we were not overly optimistic as we cycled to Susie’s favoured spot for wild mushrooms.
Chanterelles are golden yellow and one of the most delicate of the wild mushrooms and also one of the most fragrant, smelling of apricots. We found them growing in the dry grass under oak trees. They were a little on the dry side, but we found enough for a small tapa.
To prepare the chanterelles, we picked out the mossy bits, cut off the root and gently brushed with a pastry brush to remove any dirt or small leaves. You can also buy a purpose-built mushroom brush to do this.
I sliced the large ones length-ways and left the small ones whole and fried them in a mixture of olive oil and butter with a little crushed garlic and black pepper. We served them on rounds of toasted French bread - ciabatta or sourdough would have worked well too.
Words to the wise for any of you intrepid mushroom hunters out there: Before going foraging, go with someone who knows their mushrooms and familiarise yourself with how to identify the common species. Check where you might find them and the detailed features of cap and stem shape and colour, whether there are gills or pores, whether the stem changes colour when cut and so on. Make sure they are edible too. Until you are very confident at identifying your finds, check them in a good field guide before you harvest a meals-worth, and again at leisure when you get them home. If in any doubt either check the identity with an expert or don’t eat them. Then you will be safe, well informed and on the way to being a confident, safe enjoyer of some of nature’s most rewarding wild food.