If you’re a fan of chanterelles, the bright orange mushrooms with the fruity aroma and delicately peppery flavor, then this is your lucky season. Right now the mushrooms are popping up everywhere—including farmers markets.
“This is the biggest year for the chanterelle that I’ve seen,” says Chris Clinton of Crack in the Sidewalk Farmlet in Atlanta, who has built a reputation as an expert forager. At East Atlanta Village and Grant Park farmers markets, he and partner Isia Cooper supplement their crops of tomatoes, squash, and potatoes with a relatively steady supply of foraged chanterelles. This summer, they’ve got competition.
“They’re kind of a joke,” Clinton says. “I heard that last Saturday at Peachtree Road [Farmers Market], there were eight or nine people bringing them to market.”
The reason: Rain. Days and days of cool temperatures and regular downpours have delayed or damaged many summer crops, but chanterelles, which grow in the wild, are especially abundant after heavy rains. Because they grow from the ground near hardwood trees, foragers often have favorite spots in the woods where they collect them. These days, making a special trip almost seems like overkill.
“I can spot them from the road in people’s front yards,” he says. “Chanterelles are bright orange, and they like to jump out and say hi to you, basically.”
Tear chanterelles into bite-size pieces and sauté in butter or olive oil, add salt, pepper, and a splash of cream, and serve over toast. They also pair well with pasta or risotto, garlic, eggs, corn, spinach.
Find them now at farmers markets, on restaurant menus, or in a yard near you. But if you decide to pick them yourself, be sure to review photos of them online and review tips for foraging first. Another mushroom that amateurs sometime mistake for the chanterelle, called the jack-o-lantern, won’t sit on your stomach nicely at all.