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Identify Mushrooms: Black Trumpet

Updated: Jan 25

Into for Black Trumpet Mushrooms


The black trumpet is one of my top wild mushrooms. It might look plain, but it's super tasty. These mushrooms are a fancy food. They taste smoky and rich and smell a bit like fruit. They're safe too, with no poisonous ones that look like them. This makes them great for beginners learning about mushrooms.


But, they can be hard to spot. Their dark color and odd shape make them blend into the forest floor. Sometimes, people don't even notice them, even though they're a real treat!

Also called the horn of plenty, the trumpet of death, or black chanterelle, the black trumpet mushroom grows around the world. Even though they're small and tricky to find, chefs want them. They're famous for their special flavor and smell.


 


The intriguing Black Trumpet mushrooms in their natural woodland setting, capturing their elegant, shadowy presence that beckons the attention of foragers.
The Black Trumpet mushrooms !

The Black Trumpet Mushroom and Its Varieties


The Black Trumpet, also called Horn of Plenty, Trumpet of the Dead, or Black Chanterelle, has a really interesting history and cultural background. In France and Italy, it's known as trompette de la mort or trombetta dei morti, which means "trumpet of the dead." This name might come from its shape, which looks like trumpets played by people who have passed away, coming from under the ground.


This mushroom has family all over the world. Like the Craterellus fallax in eastern North America, the Fragrant Trumpet (Craterellus foetidus), the Cerulean Black Trumpet (Craterellus caeruleofuscus), the California Black Trumpet, and the European Craterellus cornucopioides. All these are really good to eat and are often called "Black Trumpet."


In many North American guides, they still use the old European name, Craterellus cornucopioides, for this mushroom. But newer studies show that this name is only for the European type, and the North American mushrooms are different.


 



A striking image of Black Trumpet mushrooms, emphasizing their visibility in the photo, yet hinting at their elusive nature in their natural forest habitat.
Black trumpets shown like this really pop out at you, but don't let that fool you – they're masters of hide and seek in the wild!

Simple Info about Black Trumpet Mushrooms


  • They look like a funnel and can be brown, gray, or black. The edges of the cap are curly and wavy.

  • A big thing about black trumpets is they don't have gills or other things you usually see on mushrooms for making spores. The bottom of their caps is smooth or a bit wrinkly.

  • They are thought to eat dead stuff and also help plant roots in a team-up kind of way. But, scientists are still figuring out their exact role in nature.

  • They're a lot like chanterelles, which is why some people call them "black chanterelles."


 


Black Trumpet mushrooms nestled comfortably among lush moss on the left, showcasing their natural affinity for mossy environments in the wild.
Over on the left, check out these black trumpets hanging out in their favorite spot – surrounded by moss. They really have a thing for it, LOL!

Finding Black Trumpet Mushrooms


Spotting black trumpets isn't too hard, but finding them can be tricky.

It's not that they grow in far-off places. You might have a great spot for black trumpets close by. But they're small and dark gray, which makes them blend in with the forest ground.


Here's how to find them. Keep these tips in mind when you're mushroom hunting:


  • Look in hardwood forests, especially near oak and beech trees. These mushrooms grow near wood, not on it. You won't see many right at the base of a tree.

  • Check around mossy spots. I've found them near thick green moss on trail sides. Their dark color stands out against the moss.

  • Look near small streams. The edges of little streams on hills and trails are good places. They like moist, shady spots. Think small streams, not big rivers.

  • Walk slowly and look down. You might miss them if you're not looking carefully. Take your time checking the leaves on the ground.

  • They often grow in groups, especially on the West Coast. If you find one, look around carefully. There might be a bunch more close by.


 


Photo highlighting Black Trumpet mushrooms cleverly camouflaged on the right, a visual tip for foragers to train their eyes to spot these elusive fungi in dry areas.
Notice how those sneaky black trumpets are playing hide-and-seek on the right in this pic? Keep your eyes peeled for that, especially in dry spots!

Black Trumpet Mushroom Guide


Identifying Black Trumpets


Black Trumpets are safe for beginners because they don't have any poisonous twins. They look unique too. Check out pictures and a list of what to look for. But remember, if you're new to this, always ask an expert before eating what you find. Don't just rely on internet info, even for yummy mushrooms like these!


When to Find Them


When you can find Black Trumpets depends on where you are. On the east coast, look for them from mid-July to late August. On the West Coast, they're more of a winter thing, from November to March. These mushrooms like cooler weather and grow when conditions are just right.


Where They Grow


Black Trumpets team up with trees. The east coast ones like oaks and the west coast ones hang out with conifers and hardwoods. You'll find them on mossy forest floors and sometimes sandy spots near coasts.


They always grow from the ground, not on trees or wood. You'll see them alone or in big spread-out groups, like tiny soldiers on the ground. They usually grow by themselves, but sometimes a couple might stick together.


 




Black Trumpet Mushroom Features


Cap

  • Shape: Funnel or vase-like, in gray, brown, or black.

  • Edges: Sometimes flare out, wavy or ruffled. They can split as the mushroom gets older and dries.

  • Underside: Smooth, without gills, pores, or teeth. Inside might have small scales.


Gills

  • Black Trumpets don't have real gills. Instead, they have forked ridges or folds from the underside of the cap to the stem. It looks like textured skin, not like hanging gills.


Stem

  • It's hollow, thin, and slender. The cap and stem blend together, different from many mushrooms.

  • Height: Up to a few inches tall, the same or a bit lighter color than the cap.

  • Texture: The flesh is thin and breaks easily.


Texture

  • Feel: Smooth or slightly wrinkled, with a soft, suede-like touch.


Odor and Taste

  • Taste: Mild.

  • Smell: Not very strong, or a bit sweet.


Flesh

  • The flesh is very thin and fragile, gray to blackish in color.


Spore Print

  • Color: White to pinkish salmon.


 


An image showcasing the three main species of black trumpets in North America, emphasizing their similar appearances but distinct differences in locations and habitats.
Alright, so get this: in North America, we've got three main kinds of black trumpets, all rocking the 'black trumpet' name. They might seem like triplets at first look, but it's all about where they chill and their favorite hangout spots that sets them apart.



Craterellus calicornucopioides (California Black Trumpet)


there's Craterellus calicornucopioides, the California Black Trumpet. Despite looking similar to the European type, DNA tells us they're different. They're more robust than their East Coast counterparts and tend to grow in dense clusters.


Craterellus fallax on the (East Coast)


also, we've got Craterellus fallax on the East Coast. This mushroom loves hanging out with oaks and other hardwoods. It can be found either on its own or in groups, scattered or in loose clusters, in mossy areas. You can spot it from spring through fall, and it's pretty widespread east of the Rocky Mountains. These mushrooms are generally around 1-3.5 inches tall.


Craterellus foetidus (East Coast)


Moving along, we've got Craterellus foetidus, also on the East Coast. Unlike its black trumpet buddies, this one has some clearer wrinkles and folds on its stem. It tends to be bigger than C. fallax and often grows in small clusters. Sometimes, if the conditions are overly dry, they might look almost white, which can be a bit confusing. These mushrooms range from 1-4 inches tall.


Craterellus cinereus (Widespread?)


Last, let's talk about Craterellus cinereus, which seems to be more of a coastal species across North America. This one stands out with its well-developed false gills that look like veins running up and down its body. It's often found near beech trees and can coexist with other black trumpet species.


 




Cooking With Black Trumpets


Black trumpets, popular edible mushrooms, have a flavor so rich and smoky that it's beyond words. Seriously, you've got to taste it to believe it!


Now, when it comes to cooking with these delectable mushrooms, the possibilities are endless. They play well in a variety of recipes, adding that deep, earthy goodness to your dishes. You can toss them into soups, blend them into sauces, mix them with pasta, pair them with seafood, or include them in meaty meals. Just remember, keep it simple and let those trumpets take the center stage; you wouldn't want other strong flavors to steal the show from these delicious gems!


If you're foraging for them in the wild, a little cleaning is in order. Since they can be a bit gritty, gently tear them apart by hand and give them a loving wipe inside and out. If they're particularly dirty, a quick rinse is perfectly fine.


Here's the cool part: black trumpets hold onto their flavor remarkably well when dried. If you find yourself with an abundance, pop them in a dehydrator or use your oven's lowest setting to dry them out. Once they're all nice and dry, you can chop them up or turn them into a magical mushroom powder. Sprinkle that powder into rice dishes, couscous, or even use it to create some heavenly flavored butter. It's like having a secret spice that can transform your meals into gourmet delights!


To get your taste buds tingling, here are two easy mushroom recipes. The first one is a simple sauté that lets the rich taste of black trumpets shine. The other one takes these flavorful mushrooms and turns them into a delightful topping for fish. Bon appétit!


 

Simple Trumpet Sauté


Ingredients:

  • 8 oz fresh black trumpets

  • 1 clove garlic, minced

  • 2 cans vegetable or chicken broth

  • 1 tbsp olive oil (or unsalted butter)

Heat oil in a large, non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Sauté garlic for about 2 minutes.

Add cleaned mushrooms, and cook for about 5 minutes.

Remove from heat and serve. Easy!


 

Salmon with Trumpet Sauce


Ingredients:

  • 2 – 4 medium salmon filets

  • 3/4 – 1 lb fresh black trumpets, chopped (the more, the better!)

  • 1 clove garlic, minced

  • 1/3 cup chopped green onion

  • 1/2 cup broth (vegetable, chicken, fish, whatever works for you)

  • 1/2 cup white wine

  • 1/2 stick butter


These instructions are for the mushroom topping. Cook the fish according to the directions on the packaging.

In a heavy skillet on medium heat, melt the butter. Once it’s melted, add the garlic and cook for 1 minute.

Add your cleaned and chopped black trumpets and sauté them for 5 minutes. Next add the chopped green onion and cook until they’re slightly wilted, usually another minute or two.

Add the wine and broth. Continue to cook until the volume of all the liquids is reduced by about half.

Remove from heat and season with any desired salt and pepper. Serve on top of the cooked salmon.


Variations:

  • Add a few tbsp of cream after the liquids are reduced.

  • Season with a tsp or your favorite herb.

  • Using dried mushrooms instead of fresh works fine too. Reconstitute them by simmering in white wine.

  • A few tbsp of lemon or orange juice adds a citrus flavor to the fish mixture.









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