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Hunting for chanterelle mushrooms with The Mushroom Lady

Dana Dean went mushroom hunting with Maxine Stone A.K.A. The Mushroom Lady.

ST. LOUIS — Maxine Stone is known as The Mushroom Lady. She wrote a book and was president of The Missouri Mycological Society for six years, so that’s where the nickname came from.

You could say she has chanterelle eyes because whenever conditions are right, she starts looking.

It’s chanterelle mushroom season currently, and they like heat, humidity and rain – usually making mid-July to mid-August the best time in Missouri to go on a hunt.

Don’t expect a seasoned mushroom hunter to tell you exactly where you can find chanterelles. Stone will not reveal her favorite hunting spots.

The kind she found among the oak trees are smooth chanterelles. They have a bright orange to yellow cap, wavy margins and are smooth on the underside – not to be confused with the poisonous lookalike called the Jack O’Lantern. That’s why Stone suggests you go hunting with someone who knows what they’re looking for.

“There are only a few deadly mushrooms. There are a number of mushrooms that might make you sick. But there are only a few that are deadly. If you know what those are and know characteristics, everything else is fine. It might not taste good – it might taste like wood,” said Stone.

Chanterelles are coveted by chefs. Some say they smell like apricots. As for the taste, they are a little meaty and not like mushrooms from the store.

Stone says coming across many different types of mushrooms on her hunts are part of the fun – like an Easter egg hunt.

For more information, visit the Missouri Mycological Society online at momyco.org.

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