Monday, May 03, 2010

Morel Hunting

My husband and I got up early (because our son missed the bus -- thanks JD) and went to the woods near our house to see if we could find any morels near the place that I had found them last year. I know that the morels are fruiting here since they are going gangbusters in my backyard right now. I really wasn't expecting to find any, but within 20minutes in the woods we found seven medium sized morels!

There are only six pictured because we left one behind. It was in a precarious place, and I wanted to make sure to leave something to propagate more morels. I will be going back with some spores to spread around, too.
You can see which one my husband found. He is giving it the thumbs-up.

Hunting wild mushrooms can be an exciting, but risky endeavor. How do I know that they are morel mushrooms and not some dangerous look-alike?

First, there are not very many mushrooms that look like morels. In fact, there are only two: Gyromitra and Verpa bohemica. The first would only look like a morel if you were drunk. The second only resembles one kind of morel, the half-free morel, but is still easy to distinguish once it has been cut open -- which you should ALWAYS do before eating morels. By cutting the mushroom lengthwise, you can be 100% positive that the mushroom is a morel. If you aren't 100% positive that what you have is a morel - throw it out. The two look-alikes are not something you want to be eating. I used this website for great ID info.

Note the "brainy" look of the morel cap. The stem is smooth, firm and meaty.
Note the hollow stem and firmly attached cap. Although the interior of the stem may have minute bumps, it will have no filling/fibers. The cap and the stem are virtually continuous - no distinct separation. Only the half-morels have separation, and I would never feel 100% confident with those. Besides, I have read that the ones pictured here are the best tasting anyway, so why risk it?

Oh, and morels aren't something you want to be eating raw as they have a chemical in them that can cause intestinal issues. Heat breaks this chemical down, so be sure to cook them. Sauteed in butter is awesomeness.

Want to try growing your own? Well, you could wait and hope nature brings you some morel spore, try your luck with community compost (like I did), create your own morel spawn, or buy morel spawn. As far as what to do to ensure their happiness, I have no idea. I cuss my garden out a lot. You could try that.


Blogger Robin said...

What a wonderful find! Hopefully you will have more next year. Enjoy!

5/05/2010 11:35 AM  
Blogger Sylvana said...

Robin, my husband doesn't even eat mushrooms and he was excited. He was already talking about next year :)

5/05/2010 12:20 PM  
Blogger Wendy said...

fascinating! Those mushrooms are beautiful.

5/05/2010 10:37 PM  
Blogger Sylvana said...

Wendy, I think morels are beautiful mushrooms. In fact, I have two morel statues in my garden.

5/06/2010 12:31 AM  
Blogger JGH said...

Man, I've been keeping an eye out but I never, ever see them! At least now I know how to figure out if they're "real" ones if I ever do. Thanks for the tips!

5/06/2010 1:56 PM  
Blogger Sylvana said...

JGH, morels can be very hard to find - that is why they bring such a high price. I think morels are a very easy to ID though, so they are a good wild mushroom to use. That, and they taste fantastic!

5/06/2010 5:04 PM  
Blogger Christine B. said...

Mushroom hunting could only end one way for me: badly, possibly with a trip to the ER. I've always wanted to try it but never dared. I give you the "Red Badge of (Mushroom) Courage!"

Christine in Alaska

5/08/2010 12:06 AM  
Anonymous Dana said...

Mmm. A nearby nature park was having a morel hunting party recently and I so wanted to go. I thought it would be a great way to get started with someone who could tell me whether eating what we found would kill us!

Unfortunately, the car wasn't running at the time. :(

Looks like a great find, there!

5/09/2010 4:24 PM  
Blogger Sylvana said...

Christine B., it is recommended that you start out with an experienced hunter before trying on your own. I didn't. The distinct look of the morel was etched into my mind after my first taste of them :)

Dana, there are usually parties like that every year in morel-heavy areas. Check with the nature park to see if you can get on their contact list for next year.

5/09/2010 6:29 PM  
Anonymous GwendolynGarden said...

I definitely think the cussing out the garden is the right strategy. For everything really. :)

5/11/2010 1:06 PM  
Blogger Sylvana said...

GwendolynGarden, if that works, why not? ;) Plus it makes me feel like at least I really tried.

5/11/2010 5:16 PM  
Blogger Annelie said...

It's been too long since I was here, and now I remember why I like you. It's your writing more than anything. You crack me up talking about mushrooms going gangbusters, and, the only way not to notice a difference is if your drunk. So entertaining and I love it.
About the post, really neat. I always thought mushrooms was a fall thing. Obviously not. Love those morels. How do you like to cook them? Ooh, wait maybe that's on your other blog?



5/11/2010 8:19 PM  
Blogger Sylvana said...

Annelie, there are some mushrooms that you gather in the fall. Morels are a spring mushroom. The fruiting time is different from area to area -- but there are websites that can help you figure out when it's time to go. I just look to my backyard.

I greatly appreciate humor and find that it is one of the greatest qualities that a person can have. I am tickled when ever anyone finds me funny :D

5/12/2010 5:57 PM  
Blogger Thomas said...

Great post! Very informative. I've always wanted to go mushroom hunting. Maybe I'll join a club this year.

5/12/2010 9:58 PM  
Blogger Sylvana said...

Thomas, and it is FUN!! Like I said, my husband doesn't even like mushrooms and he had a blast. He has even been asking when we are going back out :P

Oh, and Annelie, I am in the process of posting that Morel Cream Sauce recipe -- check back Friday :)

5/12/2010 11:21 PM  
Blogger Kathryn said...

I love mushrooms. I have been mushroom picking a few times in my life, in Europe mainly. I am sorry, but these mushrooms look revolting to me. Interesting yes, but good to eat? definitely no! Haha!

5/12/2010 11:42 PM  
Blogger Sylvana said...

Oh, but Kathryn, they are SO GOOD!! :D

5/13/2010 12:35 AM  
Blogger ConsciousGardener said...

I'm so jealous! I love morels!

5/19/2010 7:13 AM  
Blogger Sylvana said...

Conscious Gardener, :D YUM!

5/19/2010 1:44 PM  

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