There’s something so decadent about black-colored food. It carries an aura of mystery and sophistication, an irresistible treat for your eyes and your palate. The black trumpet mushroom is as intriguing as it is mesmerizing.
These particular types of fungi are not as easy to find as some of the other more well-known varieties. This is in large part because of the dark grayish-black appearance that camouflages them against the forest floor.
You may even have looked right at this wild mushroom and dismissed it without realizing the fantastic treat that you just passed up. Don’t let the black trumpet’s strange appearance fool you, though. These mushrooms are arguably one of the best-tasting fungi you’ll ever come across in your culinary escapades.
But what exactly are they, and where can you find them? This guide explores everything you need to know about the black trumpet mushroom.
The Black Trumpet Mushroom – a Brief Overview
The Craterellus Cornucopioides, or black trumpet mushroom as it is popularly called, is a black-, gray-, or sometimes brown-colored funnel-shaped fungus. It looks a lot like a trumpet with wavy edges rolled outwards.
One of the defining features that set it apart from other mushrooms is the fact that it doesn’t have gills or any other spore-bearing elements like teeth or pores. The cap’s underside is smooth except for the occasional wrinkle.
Other common names it goes by are the “Horn of Plenty,” “Trumpet of Death,” and even “Black Chanterelle” – as the Black Trumpet is closely related to the chanterelle mushroom.
Black trumpets are saprotrophic mushrooms, which means that they feed on decaying organic matter like dead trees. They also appear to have mycorrhizal relationships with the roots of trees and other plants. Their exact ecological role in nature, however, is yet to be fully established.
While identifying these mushrooms isn’t particularly hard for anyone hunting them, finding black trumpets is an entirely different story. You need to know where to look for these mushrooms to be able to spot them on the forest floor.
Where and How to Find Them
Black trumpet mushrooms are native to Europe and North America and typically grow in clusters, particularly in the West Coast region of the United States. You will also find them growing on the East Coast during late summer and fall.
There’s a special technique for hunting these little treasures. Here’s what you need to keep in mind when choosing a location to begin your search.
- Focus on hardwood forests – While black trumpet mushrooms don’t fruit on or at the base of the trees themselves, you will find them growing in clusters nearby. So, if you come across a lone ranger, look around. It’s a sign that there’s a cluster of them growing nearby. You’ll typically find them near Beech and Oak trees.
- Look in mossy areas – Anytime you come across a patch of thick green moss near a forest trail, you might want to slow down and keep your eyes peeled. Their dark black/gray color contrasts sharply against the dark green color of the moss, which makes them a lot easier to spot.
- Check near small streams – Black trumpet mushrooms thrive in dark and damp areas. So, if there’s a small seasonal stream (not a raging river) that passes through the forest, you might just find a patch of them growing near the bank.
- Walk slowly while looking directly down – Because of their dark color, it is easy to miss black trumpets. Especially when they’re surrounded by leaf litter. So, don’t walk too fast along the trails, and be sure to keep your eyes pointed downward.
Chefs love black trumpet mushrooms for their distinct smoky flavor, which works well with a wide variety of culinary ingredients. However, this smokiness is quite delicate, and the cook can easily overpower it with other ingredients.
Sauté them on their own instead and use them as pizza toppings or in other lighter-flavored preparations like fresh pasta, soups, and sauces if you want to revel in their irresistible taste.
They pair particularly well with salmon, eggs, poultry, cheese, caramelized onions, garlic, chives, and thyme. Here’s a helpful tip: Use it to elevate any recipe that calls for white wine. You can thank us later!
How to Harvest, Clean, and Store Black Trumpet Mushrooms
Always carry a sharp knife or pair of scissors when you go foraging for any kind of mushroom. When mushroom hunting for black trumpet mushrooms, ensure that you snip them at their base. Leave the dirty bases behind.
To clean them, simply open them up and use a mushroom brush to remove any dirt or debris that may have collected in the interior surfaces. A soft pastry brush will suffice if you don’t have a dedicated mushroom brush.
If it has recently rained or the mushrooms are exceptionally dirty, cut them lengthwise and give them a good brush-through before dipping them in cold water quickly, and drying them with some cloth or paper towels. This stops them from absorbing too much liquid.
You can refrigerate the dry mushrooms for a couple of days, but no more than a week. If you intend to store them for longer than that, dry them properly, place them airtight containers, and store them in a cool dark place like your kitchen cabinet. This is the best way to store them for the long term if preserving their flavor matters a great deal to you when you finally reconstitute them.
Looks Can Be Deceiving
While the black trumpet mushroom may not look like the tastiest thing on the planet, it certainly ranks up there with other universally accepted culinary favorites. All you need is a little oil, a dash of salt and black pepper, and you’re ready to roll.
Its remarkable flavor is second to none. It’s one of those things you just have to try out yourself.
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