While Oregon’s fall and winter rains can be a major bummer, take heart—it’s chanterelle season here in the Valley! Chanterelle mushrooms, orange to yellow with gills running the length of the stipe (stalk), and with a smooth cap, are prized among newbie fungus hunters and veterans alike. Known for their strong, earthy-yet-nutty flavor, they make an extremely tasty addition to your dinner table, and they store very nicely, either dried or properly frozen.
While it’s always important to exercise caution when harvesting mushrooms, chanterelles, generally found under Doug Fir trees, fortunately have few dangerous look-a-likes. Still, ask an expert to identify your spoils, especially if you’re new to Corvallis’ plethora of local mushroom species. It’s also important to thoroughly cook most mushrooms before eating them.
The past few weekends have not been fabulous for local chanterelle hunters. From the Oregon coast, to Mary’s peak to Mount Hood, chanterelle spottings have been few and far between. This may be due to the fact that October’s rains have not yet fully penetrated the region’s duff layer—the decaying organic matter at the ground’s surface. Still, it’s worth hunting—this weekend’s takes may be significantly better with an added week of rains—and the lobster mushroom season has been great so far. Don’t wait too long—come late November, you may find more mushy brown chanterelles than mushrooms with healthy white interiors.
If you’re interested in learning about our local edible mushroom species, but aren’t sure where to start, there are several local groups whose highly-knowledgeable mycology experts will help you learn your way. Visit http://www.mushroomsinbend.org/ for the Central Oregon Mushroom Club in Bend, http://www.wildmushrooms.org/ for the Oregon Mycological Society in Portland, or http://cascademyco.org/ for the Cascade Mycological Society out of Eugene.
By Genevieve Weber