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Golden Chanterelles, Reclassifying a Culinary Favorite

Golden chanterelles (Cantharellus genus) are popping up right now. These are great mushrooms for beginners. They’re relatively easy to identify, but not too easy, the challenge builds confidence. They’re among the choicest edible mushrooms in the woods, with a buttery sweet flavor.

As their name suggests, golden chanterelles are yellow in color. Instead of clearly defined gills, they have what are called false gills that sort of look like melted wax. They have a distinctive rubbery texture, and peel like string cheese, revealing white inside. Golden chanterelles drop whitish spores. The smell of golden chanterelles is memorable and lovely, a fruity apricot aroma.

Until recently, scientists classified golden chanterelles as Cantharellus cibarius. The name is still used in Europe. Genetic studies have revealed that there are multiple North American species in this clade. In fact, Wisconsin is a known center of Cantharellus diversity, and there is research to be done on golden chanterelles in the U.P. Mycology is an exciting field of biology because there is so much more to learn about mushrooms, even this delicious old favorite.

Adam Berger, UPLC Board Member

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