Why Are Chanterelle Mushrooms So Expensive?

You may know it as the world's most glamorous pizza topping. You may know it by its other moniker, "The Bluefin of the Mushroom World." Or, you may not know it at all. Either way, if you're cooking with mushrooms, chanterelles are the cool, mysterious, elusive rockstar of the fungi world.

Chanterelles are a type of mushroom known for their distinctive bright orange color. According to the Missouri Department of Conservation, there are also white, yellow, and black varieties. Their tops are trumpet-shaped with wavy edges, and their size ranges from one-to-six inches tall and ½-inch to 6-inches wide. While their color alone makes chanterelles visually knockouts, chefs around the world value the mushroom for its rich flavor and tender texture. As if you needed another reason to get interested, chanterelles are also high in fiber, copper, iron, vitamin D, and a wide array of antioxidants, per Healthline. They can even promote bone health and boost the immune system.

Want to try them out for yourself? Sure you do. But tasting chanterelles isn't as simple as bopping down to your local supermarket. In 2021, amateur mushroom foragers Dan Gebhart and Jordan Anderson found over 200 pounds of chanterelles in California's Humboldt County. The lot was valued at $4,000, reports NPR. So, why are chanterelle mushrooms so expensive?

Chanterelles are as rare as a Bigfoot sighting

Life saffron, the taste of chanterelles, can be mimicked, but there's nothing quite like the real thing. Chanterelles have the signature fungal earthiness of other mushrooms, but they also emit a uniquely buttery apricot-like aroma. The flavor is fruity and mildly peppery, meaning chanterelles require minimal preparation. In an interview with NPR, forager Anderson recommends a simple sauté with chardonnay, butter, honey, and garlic.

Flavor aside, the main reason for chanterelles' steep price is that they're infamously difficult to cultivate. They mostly grow in the wild, so the only way to acquire them is by foraging. To make it even tougher, chanterelles also require specific growing conditions: A period of heavy rainfall in a coniferous forest must be followed by several days of continuous heat and high humidity, says Money Inc. (Yes, really.) Plus, the growing season only lasts from late spring until early autumn. It's a tight market. On average, chanterelles run for about $224 per pound. For reference, a pound of organic portobello mushrooms from a Whole Foods Market in Brooklyn, N.Y., costs $5.99 per pound. But the price doesn't seem to be slowing fungus fans down much. From 2016-2017 alone, the U.S. mushroom crop was valued at a whopping $1.22 billion, reports the American Mushroom Institute via Money Inc. But, if you're hungry to try out the foie gras of the plant world for yourself, the delicacy might be well worth the price tag.