This Halloween, as the sun was setting, I went on a suitably spooky forage in the woods. My target was the uncommon fungus Craterellus cornucopioides, which goes by various names including the Trumpet of Death, the Black Chanterelle and (more appealingly) the Horn of Plenty. Despite its name, it is actually considered to be a gourmet species, carrying high prices in restaurants, where it is prized for its rich flavour.
Beyond its epicurean attributes, this species also contains protein, vitamin C and vitamin B12, which is good news for vegetarians and vegans, as it provides another source of plant-based B12, which can be difficult to obtain.
It is worth noting that sunset is not an ideal time to forage for woodland mushrooms, and especially not for a variety that is among the most difficult to spot amongst the leaf litter. Fortunately, I had discovered this species the previous year and, as fungi generally do, it had showed up again this year as well. Still, it was quite tricky spotting it amongst the leaves in the fading light, as I hope these pictures demonstrate.
Once you find one trumpet, however, inevitably, you end up spotting many more. Within a few minutes of grubbing round in the leaf litter I had collected enough for a Halloween supper.
There are many cooking techniques for the Trumpet of Death, including simply sautéing in butter or stuffing larger trumpets whole. They are supposed to be very good with white fish, but my plan was to draw on their morbid colour to create a Halloween skull pizza.
The first essential thing to do with this fungus is to thoroughly clean it, as the trumpet provides an excellent home for leaf litter and bugs. The easiest way to do this is to chop the ends off and slice them in half, before brushing away any dirt and relocating inhabitants.
Ready to cook!
I sautéed mine in butter, before adding some sliced Halloumi cheese. Like most fungi, being comprised mostly of water, they will shrink considerably when cooked. Towards the end of the cooking I reduced the heat and added garlic; this avoids the problem of burning the garlic if it is added earlier. In the meantime, my simple margherita pizza was cooking in the oven.
When both were ready, I attempted to dress the pizza with a skull made of Halloumi and Trumpets of Death. Hopefully, you can see what I was going for!
Happy Halloween from Foraging Adventures!!