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Every week there are new marvels to look for in the outdoors, and Discover Nature highlights these attractions. The Missouri Department of Conservation’s Josh Hartwig brings us the stories of river otters, luna moths, red buds, and other actors as they take center stage in nature’s theater.You can hear Discover Nature, Mondays at 7:42 a.m. and 5:18 p.m.

Discover Nature: Hunting Fall Mushrooms

Missouri Department of Conservation
Sulfur-shelf mushrooms are good for beginners. Other names are "chicken of the woods" and "chicken" mushroom.

September 13 - September 19

Take a walk in the woods this week and Discover Nature as you hunt fall mushrooms. 

Most of Missouri’s edible mushrooms are distinctive in some obvious way. Once you learn their distinguishing features you won’t confuse them with any dangerous poisonous species.

It’s very important to know the visual cues to look for, but knowing when and where a mushroom grows is very important in proper identification. Though most hunted mushroom in Missouri is probably the Morel, other edible mushrooms abound. However, the safest way to get acquainted with edible fall mushrooms is to take one species to learn, hunt and eat.. 

According to the Missouri Department of Conservation, a good mushroom for beginners is the Sulfur Shelf, because it’s a distinctive mushroom with no poisonous look-alikes. However, it can cause a mild allergic reaction in some people. Sulfur Shelf mushrooms are found in summer and fall in clusters on living trees or dead wood.  They light up the forest with their brilliant orange-red caps and pale sulfur-yellow pore surfaces. Some specimens fade to a peach or salmon color.

The sulfur shelf always grows on wood, usually in large masses of overlapping caps. It has no stem; the cap is attached directly to the wood. The pores are tiny, but the mushrooms grow to be two to twelve inches wide. Other names for the Sulfur Shelf include chicken mushroom and chicken of the woods.

When you take your mushrooms into the kitchen, cook only the tender outer edges of the caps, because the rest will be tough and woody. Slice and simmer the mushrooms in stock for 45 minutes, then serve them creamed on toast.

When cooked, Sulfur Shelf mushrooms have the texture - and often the taste - of chicken.

Before you go mushroom hunting, be sure to visit www.missouriconservation.org for photos and other information that will make your mushroom hunt a success.

Candice Davis is the former host of Discover Nature on KRCU. Her goal is to help people to discover nature and learn to appreciate the many outdoor opportunities Missouri has to offer. Candice knows that people who spend time in the outdoors are generally less stressed, more thankful, healthier and more successful in life. Children who spend time outdoors have better grades and are more physically active. It’s Candice’s goal to inspire Missourians to discover nature in their everyday lives through stories of butterflies, elk, tupelo trees, alligator gar and other marvels of nature on KRCU’s Discover Nature program.
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