Chanterelles are delicious wild mushrooms. You will pay a fortune for them if you buy them at the store, or you can gather them for free during a pleasant walk in the woods. They grow in woodlands and can be found from the Northeastern United States to the Pacific Northwest. There are numerous subspecies, but a culinary favorite is the Cantharellus cibarius, which is the one typically called the chanterelle.
Make note of the location and time of year. Chanterelles grow on the ground, usually in groups. In the Northwest, they are likely to be under conifers, but further East they grown under hardwoods. They can be found along the sides of pastures and fields, where the farmland meets the woods. Chanterelle season is long, from mid-summer through fall in most locations. On the West Coast, they can be found in fall, winter and spring. They are also abundant in California.
Look at the shape of your mushroom. Chanterelles are described as vase-shaped or funnel-shaped.
Study the underside of the mushroom cap. This surface is easy to see because of the vase-shape of the mushroom. The underside of the chanterelle has ridges that may divide into forked or cross-wise ridges.
Examine the stalk. It should be 1 to 2 inches long and perhaps as much as 4 inches. It may be paler in color than the cap. It is smooth, without the ridges that start on the cap. The stalk often tapers toward the ground but not always.
Consider the mushroom's color. The chanterelle species come in a wide range of colors, but Cantharellus cibarius is yellow to orange. If the mushroom has been exposed to lots of sun, it may be somewhat bleached out, but generally chanterelles are very strikingly colored.