“Not only this same fungus [the chanterelle] never did any harm, but it might even restore the dead.” —L. Trattinnick, Essenbarre Schwamme (nineteenth century).
Chanterelles are up among my favorite mushrooms to harvest and eat. The are dense and firm when they are smaller and make them perfect for pickling whole. I have a spot that is on timber company land and is covered in chanterelles so I don't feel too bad picking them in this smaller stage. I also think they have a better aesthetic on the plate when they are pickled whole while still small and cute.
Chanterelles are incredibly high in vitamin D. 1 It is rare to find food sources of vitamin D, which makes them even more special. It has been shown that the levels of vitamin D in chanterelles also remain high when dried and stored for up to six years.1 Vitamin D promotes calcium absorption in the gut and works with calcium to support bone health.2 It has other roles in the body, including modulation of cell growth, neuromuscular and immune function, and reduction of inflammation.2 More recently it is being studied for the potential link between vitamin D deficiency and Alzheimers.3 Next to cod liver oil, chanterelles are one of the most concentrated natural dietary sources of vitamin D.1
Typically vitamin D is synthesized in the body from uv light. But here in the PNW, we can go a long time in the winter without seeing the sun which can lead to deficiency. Luckily during this cloudy time, there are little yellow-golden beacons of light out there in the forest calling us to come pick them and make them into a delicious dish to share with friends. I will share my absolute favorite chanterelle dish later in the season. But for now, enjoy these pickled chanterelles that go great in salads, pair well with meat or atop creamy polenta.
Pickled Wild Chanterelles & Huckleberries
2 cups whole small chanterelles, cleaned
1/2 cup unripe huckleberries
1/4 cup grated horseradish
1 teaspoon celery seeds
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon juniper berries
2 sprigs thyme
1/2 cup white wine
1/2 cup white wine vinegar
1/2 cup water
2 teaspoons sea salt
1. In a small pyrex bowl combine the mushrooms, huckleberries and horseradish.
2. Heat remaining ingredients in a small saucepan until nearly boiling.
3. Pour the hot brine over the mushrooms and let stand for 2 hours. Pick out the thyme sprigs and juniper berries and serve. Or to develop deeper flavor, put all ingredients in a jar and refrigerate for at least 3 days.
1. Pilz D, Norvell L, Danell E, Molina R. Ecology and management of commercially harvested chanterelle mushrooms. 2003. doi:10.2737/pnw-gtr-576.
2. Vitamin D — Health Professional Fact Sheet. U.S National Library of Medicine. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/vitamind-healthprofessional/. Accessed September 1, 2016.
3. Balion C, Griffith LE, Strifler L, et al. Vitamin D, cognition, and dementia. A systematic review and meta-analysis. Neurology 2012;79:1397-1405.