Often found by the thousand, the winter chanterelle is a great tasting mushroom that can be used in more unusual ways than fellow fungi
Winter chanterelles — or yellow legs — (Craterellus tubaeformis) are one of the tastiest edible mushrooms, packing a lot of flavour for their size, and very much a favourite here at The Foraging Course Company. While we’d quite understand wanting to dive straight in and enjoy them with some buttered toast, if you are lucky enough to find a good patch, then it is well worth keeping some back to preserve.
Fortunately, winter chanterelles can be found growing in abundant colonies, usually in mossy, mixed woodland, making it possible to take enough to enjoy long after their season ends while still being sustainable. While they can be difficult to spot when camouflaged by leaf litter, they are easy to identify, with their distinctive yellow stems that meet with brown caps and decurrent primitive (false) gills typical of the chanterelle family.
The idea of a mushroom preserve might seem unusual at first, but this earthy, savoury and slightly fruity fungus works the same as any other fruit you would use in a chutney, and takes on warming winter spices equally well. The marmalade can be used as an accompaniment for cheeses or meats but is reportedly just as good served with a vanilla ice cream.
500g winter chanterelles
300g light muscovado sugar
190ml cider vinegar
1 tbsp soy sauce
4 twists black pepper
1 bay leaf
1 stick cinnamon
12 dates, stoned and chopped
1 small carrot
1 tbsp fresh ginger finely chopped
Rinse the mushrooms, place in a saucepan and cover with water. Boil for a couple of minutes and then strain using a sieve or fine-holed colander.
Allow the mushrooms to slightly cool before gently squeezing them to remove excess water. Roughly chop.
In a separate pan, dissolve the muscovado sugar in 300ml of water to make a syrup. Once the sugar has fully dissolved, add the mushrooms and the rest of the ingredients.
Simmer for around 1 to 1 ½ hours until the mixture has reached a marmalade-like consistency. If the mixture is pushed apart on the base of the pan using a spatula or wooden spoon, it should not flow back into the gap.
Pour into hot, sterilised jam jars and seal. Refrigerate after opening.
Always stay safe when foraging. You need to be 100% sure of your identification, 100% sure that your foraged item is edible, and 100% sure that you are not allergic to it (it is good practice to always try a small amount of any new food you are consuming). If in doubt, leave it out!