The first cleaning takes place in the forest
Chanterelles prefer sunny spots - and like to hide there in the middle of a damp cushion of moss, which is often found along forest paths. Although the typical yellow cones of larger specimens can often be seen from a distance, you have to look for the much more common small ones in their moss bed by carefully pulling them apart with your fingers. Due to their hidden location, chanterelles that you have collected yourself often have a lot of dirt attached to them: earth, sand, tree needles (the delicious mushrooms are often near pine trees), leftover moss and sometimes smaller insects. This is not the only reason why the first cleaning takes place in the forest:
- Carefully turn mushrooms out of the ground or cut them off directly above the ground.
- Check chanterelles for “authenticity” and sort
- False chanterelles can be distinguished quite well, for example by the lack of smell
- Simply leave unsuitable or wrong chanterelles on the forest floor
- so you can continue to multiply by falling out spores
- Check fungi for maggot infestation (cut larger specimens once lengthways)
- Remove the coarsest dirt with a brush or similar
- Cleaning and washing chanterelles - tips and tricks
- Look for chanterelles in typical locations
- Dry off excess chanterelles for storage
Never transport chanterelles or other wild mushrooms in a plastic container or a plastic bag, they'll take that offense. An airy basket lined with a cotton cloth or, in an emergency, a cotton or jute bag is best.
Cleaning chanterelles properly - this is how it's done
When you get home, you should clean the chanterelles immediately and prepare them for further use - like all mushrooms, these can only be kept in the refrigerator for a few days. If it is not possible to use it immediately, clean it at least roughly and then store it in the vegetable compartment of the refrigerator. Do not leave fresh or already prepared mushrooms at room temperature for long periods of time - if you are unlucky you can quickly catch food poisoning this way.
Brush - do not wash!
Like almost all mushrooms - with the exception of species such as the frilled mother hen - you shouldn't wash mushrooms to clean them if possible. Mushrooms naturally contain a lot of water - and thanks to their special structure they absorb more moisture like a sponge. Incidentally, this is also the reason why they are known as “mushrooms”, especially in southern Germany and Austria. Instead of washing them, it is best to brush the chanterelles one by one with a mushroom brush and clean stubborn dirt by rubbing them with a clean kitchen towel. However, only apply light pressure - chanterelles are very sensitive and quickly get unattractive pressure points. Cut away dry and muddy spots with a sharp paring knife.
Wash only if very heavily soiled
However, if the mushrooms are very dirty and / or have collected very large quantities, cleaning them by hand can be very tedious. In this case, you can wash the chanterelles as well, but never water the mushrooms. Only expose them to the water for a short time and then dry them thoroughly with a clean kitchen towel. This is the best way to wash chanterelles: put the mushrooms in a colander, such as a pasta colander, and rinse them thoroughly with a powerful stream from the hand shower.
Trick for large quantities: brush the chanterelles with flour
The “flour trick” has proven its worth especially with heavily soiled or larger quantities of chanterelles:
- Always put smaller quantities of mushrooms in a freezer bag.
- Dust the mushrooms with one to two tablespoons of flour.
- Seal the bag and shake the contents vigorously.
- Now pour the floured mushrooms into a sieve and shake it.
- The flour binds the dirt that falls off when you shake it.
- Carefully rinse off the leftovers with the hand shower (for example in the shower).
Do not forget to dry the mushrooms carefully so that they do not soak up the moisture and lose their consistency and taste.
Cut the chanterelles correctly and process them further
When the chanterelles are clean, you can cut and prepare them. You can leave smaller specimens entirely, only larger ones should be halved or even third. In contrast, cutting into slices is only necessary for certain applications (e.g. drying in the oven or on a string). Prepare the mushrooms as fresh as possible: If that is not possible, you can store them in the vegetable drawer in your refrigerator for three to four days.
If you can't process the chanterelles right away, the mushrooms can also be frozen or preserved in some other way.