We love Morels and look forward every year to mushroom hunting time! Morel mushrooms are truly a seasonal food because they only grow in the wild. Morel spawning kits are available, but most people who have tried them will tell you that they don’t work. They are impossible to cultivate, difficult to find, and pop up out of nowhere during a very short time in the spring. They are a true delicacy.
I have had a variety of successes and failures every year while hunting these amazing fungi from the forests floors. Sometimes I hit it big. Sometimes I come home with only a few and sometimes I don’t find anything. In years past, I have searched the river bottoms of the Mississippi and Meramec Rivers near the St. Louis area where I grew up. I have practiced some good evade and escape skills while avoiding the park rangers at public parks or golf courses. They were often frustrated with the army of people that invaded their areas each spring while Morel hunting. But the rewards are worth the effort once you stumble upon a patch of these newly sprung morsels of goodness. You can buy them in a few high priced food stores or at farmers’ markets. But you’re going to pay a hefty price for somebody else’s labor beyond the wood-line. During the spring, I have seen prices of up to $75 per pound at a farmers’ market.
They are commonly referred to as mushrooms, but they are so much more than that. Actually, they are not really mushrooms by that classification. This fungi are more closely related to the very rare truffle for which many high-end chefs pay a premium price. And indeed you can find Morels served in some of the priciest restaurants in the world. All of this makes the hunt much more meaningful for me. When else can an average guy or gal go for a walk in the woods and come back with a highly prized delicacy for the table?
So Where and When Do I Look?
The “WHEN” is the easy part. They always pop up in the spring. If you’re in the central Midwest, the average time for us is usually right around April 14-15th. You may find some before that, but the warm nighttime temperatures really don’t get going before that. You need consistent temperatures of 70 degrees or so during the day and 50 degrees at night. Then you need to wait for the rain. Warm rain during those temperatures will literally make them pop right up overnight. Check with the Morel hunters online in your area to find out the best times to begin the hunt.
The “WHERE” is the tricky part. People have all sorts of strategies on this. They will tell you to look beside certain trees or on a specific side of a hill, etc. But really they can be found anywhere. The spores are growing under the ground without any real rhyme or reason. This is the reason why these amazing morsels haven’t been able to be commercially cultivated. Science doesn’t really know how to predict their growth. It’s why they are so highly prized, along with the truffle. So…it basically comes down to this. You just have to go out and look around. You have to invest the time to find them and search them out. They are out there waiting for you.
The only helpful hint I can give you is this: Once you find one, STOP! Be very careful to look around you because where there is one, there is another, and another. It’s very rare to find only one by itself all alone. So start where you found the one and slowly circle the area looking for others. I like to squat down and pan the entire area very slowly and normally I will pick up a few more. Once you have collected all there is in one area, be sure to make a note of where the area is and visit again next year. There is a GOOD chance you will find more in the same spots as before. One other strategy that most experienced Morel hunters claim works is to search in areas that recently a year or two ago experienced a forest fire. They say that a recent burn of a forest really brings out exponential new growth and that includes mushrooms in abundance.
Preparing the Feast!
Now that you have found some of these rare fungi, what do you do next? Bring them home and if you want to eat them right away, I recommend soaking them in water and rinsing them well several times. Usually you will see tiny insects throughout the shroom. After you have cleaned them, you can use them in so many ways. There are many recipes available online. Many people like to bread them and fry them in coconut oil or butter. My favorite recipe is to slice one side open and put cream cheese in the hollow center before I bread and fry them. DELICIOUS!
If you have never gone out to find these amazing Morels, I would suggest trying right now or making plans to go next year. Once you find them and bring them home to eat, you will make it a point to do it for the rest of your life.
Here is a video of some of this years finds. Thanks for visiting our site and we hope you will share our videos and articles with your friends.