Chanterelle mushrooms have always grown everywhere in Europe, Asia, and North America, wherever there are leafy or coniferous forests.
However, because they are too often picked in an uncontrolled fashion, chanterelles are becoming an endangered species in some European countries, particularly in Germany, Austria, and the Netherlands, and also in some regions of France. This has led to the mass importation of chanterelles from Eastern European countries and also North America to meet the demand for them.
Attempts at growing them commercially have not been successful.
The cap and foot should both be very firm and dry, without the slightest trace of viscosity or blemishes.
It should have a strong but pleasant smell, similar to that of a mirabelle plum or apricot.
The smaller the chanterelle, the better it is.
If bought fresh, chanterelles should picked locally. Imported chanterelles will have spent a certain time in a cool room.
Outside their season, chanterelles can be found frozen, preserved, or dried.
Chanterelle mushrooms are delicate and require particularly careful cleaning. They do not like water, which they absorb and which turns them into sponges. Washing them is out of the question. The bottom of the foot is cut off and the stem is very gently scraped clean. The caps are cleaned one by one with a fine, moistened brush.
Very small chanterelles are cooked whole, while the largest ones are cut up. They can be pan-fried for a few minutes, or in a pot for a little longer. Cooking them at a too high temperature easily renders them rubbery.
Chanterelles go well with meat, poultry, and fish. They can flavor pasta and risotto dishes, and can be used in forcemeat or to enhance a sauce. Chanterelle omelet is a classic dish.
Fresh chanterelle mushrooms can be kept for 5–6 days in the refrigerator or cool room. But they should not be piled up.
Frozen chanterelles should be kept in the freezer, without breaking the cold chain.
Dried chanterelles should be stored in a container in a dry place.
Like all mushrooms, chanterelles contain some protein, minerals, and B-group vitamins.
They are high in fiber, but also in antioxidant carotenoids (hence their color).
Dozens of sub-varieties of chanterelle mushrooms are scattered around the temperate regions of the northern hemisphere. The most common in Europe are:
. Golden chanterelle
Its cap varies in diameter between 1 and 8 cm. They grow in leafy forests, particularly under oaks, from June through October.
. Yellowfoot mushroom
Its cap is about 5 cm in diameter, and its foot is very long and thin. It grows in pine forests in the fall.
. Winter or trumpet chanterelle
This mushroom has a small brown cap, with a soft, gray, and reasonably long foot. Its smell is rather earthy. It is found in mountainous regions in forests of fir trees at the end of the fall.
. Ashen chanterelle
This mushroom closely resembles the black chanterelle, but it is not from the Cantharellus family.