Morel mushrooms are highly sought after by both amateur foragers and culinary professionals alike due to to their delicious flavor and versatility when added to restaurant dishes. Morel mushrooms also tend to have a high market value due to their short growing season and relative difficulty to locate. This article provides morel mushroom hunting tips for the beginning forager.
Before You Go Hunting For Morels: Know How To Identify False Morel Mushrooms
It is highly recommended that you go with an experienced forager on your first hunt for the morel mushroom as there is an extremely toxic variant of the morel mushroom which is known as the false morel. False morel mushrooms (pictured above) tend to be “brain like” in appearance. They are wrinkly, and don’t have divots in the cap the way that edible morel mushrooms do. When in doubt, you can always slice the mushroom in question lengthwise. An edible morel mushroom will be hollow on the inside whereas a false morel mushroom will not be. Again, if you are new to mushroom hunting then you really should take an experienced forager with you on your first few hunts.
Morel Mushroom Hunting
There are many factors that come into play when it comes to hunting for morel mushrooms. For starters, the morel mushroom season does in fact vary throughout the United States depending upon where you live. For example, the best time to hunt for morel mushrooms in the Berkshires usually occurs sometime between the first and third weeks in May. Morel mushrooms tend to grow in areas where there is plenty of fallen timber, but you may even find them growing in your own backyard! Some people claim to have the most success hunting for morel mushrooms just after a rain storm. Temperature is another important factor to consider when it comes to morel mushroom hunting. Most expert foragers agree that morel mushrooms tend to be found in abundance when the temperature reaches around 70 degrees during the day, and falls no lower than 45 – 50 degrees in the evening.
Morel Mushroom Harvesting And Collection Bags
When harvesting the morel mushroom, all one needs to do is simply pinch the stem of the mushroom just above the soil line and give a little twist. As far as collection bags are concerned, many experts recommend using a mesh bag as this will help your mushrooms to “breath” properly as well as to ensure that there will at least be some degree of spore distribution in order to help future generations of the mushroom to grow.
Cleaning, Storing, And Freezing Morel Mushrooms
Morel mushrooms should be either eaten or frozen within one week of being harvested. To clean a morel mushroom, simply cut it in half lengthwise, cut out any irregularities, and then soak the mushrooms in water for 10 – 15 minutes which will remove excess bugs and dirt. At this point you’ll either want to cook your mushrooms or place them directly into freezer bags to be frozen. Note, Some people recommend soaking the morel in salt water before cooking or freezing while others vehemently oppose this practice.
A Simple Morel Mushroom Recipe
I have come across different recipes for morel mushrooms, but most people tend to agree that the best way to cook morel mushrooms is to simply saute them in butter over medium heat until desired doneness and then season them with salt and pepper.