Coastal mountain range chanterelle mushroom gathering
Foraging for mushrooms was not part of my upbringing the Pacific Northwest. After years of purchasing thousands of pounds of wild mushrooms, I never once entered the damp old growth forests of this region and searched for the elusive fungi on my own. This time period would not arrive until after the restaurant years.
I gravitate to the north coast of Oregon. Into an old growth forest, where in the distance I can still hear the sound of the ocean arriving to meet the land. A few years ago, it appeared that no foot prints went off trail and down the ravines, I search for my favorite mushroom. These years, it appears my favorite spot has been identified by many pickers, and it is obvious that patches of chanterelles have been picked over before I enter the forest.
The foraging practice is economic for paid pickers and brings needed dollars into a household. It is a profession like no other. With wild product, there are no land fees, no irrigation fees, no water rights, or limitations to where one might gather. All for the price of a license. Anyone can grab a knife and a bag and take a walk in the woods. Arriving at the back door of a restaurant to transact a cash sale on the same day as harvest. Undercutting larger outfits perhaps or selling at a weigh station, set up near prime picking grounds by mushroom brokers. I am just grateful for the time in the quiet forest with thoughts of cooking the harvest that evening and pondering what it might pair well with.
My sense of mushroom identification is keen after handling wild mushrooms over the years. My sense of where to look for them was somewhat intuitive. I think chefs have a sixth sense about knowing where to find good food. Whether it's the funkiest best noodle shop on a weathered street in a strange city or wild foods in the forest.
Foraging for mushrooms forces one to slow down, truly slow down. Turning eyes to the forest floor and beginning the search for the orange yellow chanterelles is a good starting point for first time foragers. The mushrooms color pops out from the obvious green and brown vegetation, making spotting the mushroom easier from a distance. Unlike the elusive morel mushroom, that I struggle to see in the high alpine areas of this region.
After a short while in the forest, the mind quiets and the focus turns to the ground with a keen and watchful eye, searching with broad scans of the forest floor. Laying on the ground, at the mushrooms vantage point while harvesting, it is not uncommon to lift up moss beds and discover many more chanterelles hiding under the natural green carpet.
I could do this for hours, even if the harvest is light. I am happy to empty my mind into the stillness of the forest and emerge from the cross country travel with a small bag of chanterelles. Thinking they taste better, just because I found them myself.
Search for chanterelle mushroom recipes on this site let me know your favorite!