Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Wildcrafting: Morel Mushrooms

Morels have been the talk of the town these days. 

I am very new at hunting for Morels. We've known they do pop up in these parts, but we've just never been at the right place at the right time to find them. I've also been a bit tentative about hunting for them because of the fear of eating a bad mushroom. BE SURE YOU ARE 200% SURE YOUR MUSHROOMS ARE INDEED MORELS BEFORE EATING THEM! If in doubt, your county extension office should be able to tell you if what you have is for sure Morels.  They must be cooked before eaten.

Last night, some friends and I had a conversation about Morels. One friend, who has fond memories of her grandmother picking them and cooking them up for family, wants to pass those memories on to her children.

As you may already know, Morel hunting can be a secretive art, with successful hunters keeping mum about where they hit the Morel jackpot.

Well, a mutual friend of ours wasn't so secretive(perhaps she is new to this too!) and let us in on where she happened upon some, so we went looking this morning.

We looked for maybe an hour and found 1 good one(pictured) and two moldy/smooshed ones. We were getting ready to leave and decided to look just one more time....and found 2 more! That was all, though.

Now that I have been introduced to Morel hunting, and have at least a little better idea of what to look for and where to look, I think I need to head out into our woods and hunt for some more.

One good resource for Wildcrafting that I actually have on hand and would heartily recommend is Abundantly Wild by Teresa Marrone. It has plenty of information and pictures to let you know what to look for and where.  It also has recipes for each of the foods featured in the book.

On the topic of Morels, Abundantly Wild gives plenty of description and ways to know you do indeed have Morels(or if you have something else). One good thing to note is that Morels should be completely hollow when cut in half.

I personally am going to saute my Morel(s? hopefully) in butter. Everything's good in butter, right?

Here are a few tips I have learned in my short experience of Morel Hunting:

1. Go 'shrooming when the lilacs are blooming (recommendation I got from the above book). But it's not an exact science, this.

2. Wear pants/jeans, tennis shoes/boots and perhaps long sleeves. The ground will probably be wet, and you will likely be walking through the undergrowth under the trees(in our case it was wild rose bushes/rugosa rose, wild raspberry plants, young poison ivy, hedge apple trees/saplings and numerous other plants).

3.Look under and near dead trees/decaying logs and shaded areas.

4. Be careful where you step: walk slowly and keep your eyes peeled. Sometimes it helps to squat and get closer to the level of the Morels.

5. If you find one, keep looking for more nearby--they tend to grow in groups.

6. When you find your Morel(s), put them in a mesh bag. This serves the purpose of allowing for air circulation(a must--you don't want squishy mushrooms when you get home!) AND allows spores to fall out and spread through the forest as you look further.

Happy Hunting!


Soliloquy said...

Yum! I haven't had models since I was a kid. Enjoy!

Lee Williams said...

These are my FAVORITE mushrooms!
Mom and Dad's woods used to be full of them!!! YummY!!