As a professional botanist, I don’t know my mushrooms well, but I am working to learn more. This fall, I’m sharing some easily identified, beginner-level species so you can learn too! Today it’s the Yellowfoot (aka Winter Chanterelle, Craterellus tubaeformis, Photo 1).
Most people are familiar with Yellow Chantrelles (Cantharellus sp.) as easy-to-identify and popular edible mushrooms. (This was a banner year for them: I found my first ones in July, and they kept popping up in abundance right through to mid-October). Yellowfoots (Yellowfeet?) are their later-appearing and less-famous cousins. Like all Chantrelles, Yellowfoot has folds under the cap rather than gills, pores, or teeth. It can be easily identified by those, coupled with its distinctive yellow stem (Photo 2). No other species is likely to be mistaken for Yellowfoot.
This is a choice edible mushroom that can be found in wet conifer forests, often growing in moss as seen here. Yellowfoot forms mycorrhizal relationships with surrounding trees, providing them water and nutrients and receiving food (in the form of sugars) in return. They can appear in large numbers, and I was happy to find these and get a chance to try them in the kitchen!
Yellowfoots are delicate mushrooms with hollow stems. I expected them to have a mild flavour and was very much surprised by my initial taste test (Photo 3). I found them to be among the strongest-flavoured of the wild species I’ve tried to date, with a distinctive earthy – almost musky – taste. (I’ve seen it described as mild, sweet, and nutty. Taste is subjective, but I wouldn’t use any of those adjectives for this species). Unlike some of the other mushrooms I’ve profiled, cooked Yellowfoots do not have a firm, meaty texture; theirs is more along the lines of cooked pasta. For this reason, I decided they would be best suited to a homemade Wild Mushroom Soup (Photo 4), and you can find my recipe here: https://www.pei-untamed.com/post/kate-s-wild-mushroom-soup
I would definitely collect Yellowfoots again if I happened to find them, but this isn’t a mushroom I would go out specifically looking for. Next week, I’ll feature what has become my favourite edible mushroom so far and – fortunately – has been fruiting in abundance this fall on PEI untamed!