Black trumpet mushrooms (Craterellus cornucopioides), also known as “cornucopia”, “horn of plenty”, “the black chanterelle“, and “trumpet of the dead”, are edible mushrooms belonging to the craterellus genus of fungi without gills in their under caps.
A possible explanation behind their name “trumpet of the dead” is the fact that they look like the trumpets that were played a few centuries ago at funerals. Black trumpets are also found in Greek Mythology, where they symbolized the horn of the sacred goat Amalthea and, according to the legend, everyone that saw these mushrooms could manifest whatever they wanted to drink or eat inside the cup of the mushroom.
Today Black trumpet mushrooms are considered a cheaper alternative to the famous black truffles, hence their reputation as “poor man’s truffles”. Unlike many other species of mushrooms, they grow in most regions of the world. However, it’s not easy to spot them as they tend to blend in with their surroundings.
Where To Find Black Trumpet Mushrooms And When
Black trumpets grow in deciduous forests in Europe, North America, Japan, and Korea. They grow in damp areas, and you’ll find them under oaks, beeches and wide-leaved trees amongst moss.
They are available from around June through to November.
How To Identify Black Trumpet Mushrooms
These mushrooms show up by looking like black holes. They are fairly small in size and typically grow 3 to 4 inches (8-10 cm) in height and 2 to 2.5 inches (5-7 cm) in diameter. They do not have a distinct separation between their caps and stalks; however, their stalks are elongated and lighter in colour compared to their caps. The caps are usually a dark grey or greyish black, especially at the tips. They also have a semi-smooth texture, but they can bear fine lines or small wrinkles on the cap’s surface.
These mushrooms do not have any poisonous look-alikes but there are similar species such as the ashen chanterelle (Cantharellus cinereus), which are also black and trumpet-like, but which have rudimentary gills.
Health Benefits Of Black Trumpet Mushrooms
Black trumpet mushrooms are naturally enriched with B-12, phosphorus, calcium, potassium and antioxidant substances. This combination of constituents may help with:-
- Nervous system disorders such as anxiety, depression, shaking, nerve pain
- Cancer types such as skin cancer, colon cancer, and bone cancer
- Diabetes and control of blood sugar
- Cholesterol reduction
- General system rejuvenation properties
They are also very low in calories; ½ ounce (14 grams) of these mushrooms contains only 40 calories and fewer than 0.4 ounces (1.2 grams) of fat. This makes them an ideal choice for losing weight.
How To Cook Them
You can cook Black trumpet mushrooms in various ways. They have a strong woodsy scent and earthy flavor with a hint of smoke. They also have a chewy texture when you eat them in their fresh form.
To cook them, you need to rinse them under running water and drain them. Then leave them whole or chop them roughly. Alternatively, you can buy dried black trumpet mushrooms. It’s best to eat them in large chunks or they lose much of their natural flavor and texture.
They taste great sauteed, grilled, or added in soups and stews. A quick and easy recipe that makes most of their natural flavor is this:
- 1 cup fresh wild black trumpets
- 1 spring onion, chopped
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 teaspoon thyme
- Heat the oil in a frying pan and add the chopped spring onions. Saute for 2 minutes until transparent.
- Add the mushrooms and saute for 8 to 10 minutes or until most of their juices have evaporated.
- Season with thyme, salt and pepper.
- Serve warm.
If you are using dried Black trumpets, use at least one cup of water or liquid per ounce of dried mushrooms to give the best cooking results. You can preserve them in pickle form for up to a year.
Black trumpet mushrooms are pleasing to look at and provide a tasty and healthy addition to one’s diet. They are well worth trying out.