The Ottumwa Courier


May 25, 2013

More Morels Please!

Wild mushroom hunting is a rite of spring for many in this great land. While I’m not as dedicated a mushroom hunters as some, I agree that few things compare to the rush experienced when a cache of Morels suddenly pops into view.

As they’re picked, you can’t stop yourself from daydreaming about how delicious that next meal will be when served with a side of butter-fried Morels. Their flavor and wonderful texture is unmatched by any other thing, mushroom or otherwise.

As I write this, we are just about to enter the Morel season where I live. It has been a long, cold winter and conditions are now becoming favorable. What are favorable conditions? It’s when daytime high temperatures reach the 60s and stay relatively consistent; and evening low temperatures remain above 40 degrees.

After your region hits those temperatures, it’s time to go out searching for Morels (which are so coveted that they can fetch more than $20 per pound in markets!). An ideal location to investigate is along the edges of wooded south-facing hillsides. The reason for this is because prevailing winds typically deposit mushroom spores along those south-facing inclines.

IF you find such a hill... AND it has trees with a relatively open understory... AND many of those trees are elms, ash, aspens and oaks... AND several of those trees are dead and decaying... THEN you could be in Morel heaven! That is the ideal location to fill your bag with goodness.

If you’ve never harvested Morels before, I strongly encourage you to go online and get a quick education in fungus so you know what to look for. There are mushrooms like Half-Free Morels and False Morels that look a lot like the real thing — but aren’t. They can cause some intestinal discomfort if ingested. Once you know/see the difference, then Morel identification is pretty simple.

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