There are very few things that are more delightful than fresh mushrooms from your hours hunting in the woods. It is even better when you find the mushrooms for free and have the self sufficient feeling of wild food foraging.
I vividly recall my grandmother describing with great fondness the way they used to go hunting for Morel mushrooms in the spring and eat them in pasta, on pizza, in a stew, or over a grilled river trout. She explained that Morels cannot be grown on farms like many other mushroom varieties, but only gathered wild because of their mysterious growing conditions. Because of these reasons, the price of Morels is always very high, even more if they’re out of season.
Morels live in and on the edge of forested areas. Look for ash, aspen, elm, and oak trees, around which morels often grow. Early in the spring as the ground is warming, you’ll find them on south-facing slopes in fairly open areas. As the season progresses, go deeper into the woods and onto north-facing slopes…quoted from Field and Stream magazine
● Morels are most common in the American midwest, but are sometimes found along the entire east coast.
● Look at the right time. For Minnesota, it’s as late as early April, and further south will be earlier. Look often, because Morels only sprout for a week or two.
● Check areas of forest that have been recently burnt. Although we aren’t sure why, Morels seem to grow more often in these conditions, along with pine forests, but the host trees they grow on are extremely variable depending on the subspecies of Morel (there are over 50 worldwide!)
● Check hillsides with a southern exposure, and look near the top or halfway down the hill. Morels don’t like sodden soil.
Be Careful of False Morels !
If you aren’t experienced in mushroom hunting, it’s a good idea to take a friend who is. There are a few mushrooms that look very similar to real Morels that are toxic. Some could be deadly. Always check whether your Morels are real before consuming them:
● Cut the mushroom vertically.
● The cap of real Morels is attached all the way down the stem or at the top and bottom. False Morels are only attached at the top like an umbrella.
● Real Morels are completely hollow. False Morels are filled with a cotton-like fiber.
Click here to read about tips for hunting morel mushrooms in the wild:
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