Happy Hunting: 7 Tips From The Morel Mushroom King
Morel mushrooms are perhaps my favorite food. The allure of course, is not only this wonderful earthy flavor, but their rarity and the fact that once every year you can actually find them yourself growing in the wild!
Why are morels so rare and expensive?
Those of you that do find your morels are getting an amazing deal. These elusive mushrooms can fetch as much as $60 lb - and that's IF you can find them in stores at all! They are on the menus of most high end restaurants, but they are probably not on the shelves at your local grocery store.
What makes morel mushrooms so rare is the fact that are almost impossible to grow and that they don’t seem to pop up with any predictability.
7 Expert Tips for Finding Morels
There are of course those who claim they have the secret to where and how they grow. One such person is my friend Tom or as I like to call him “the fun guy”.
Tom is kind of like a “Mushroom Whisperer.” He seems in-tune with everything from the wind direction, sun location, soil moisture content and surrounding plant growth. When I asked Tom to share some of his tips for finding Morels, he said, “I can, but I will have to swear you to secrecy.”...Oh well. So much for that! Here they are for you all:
#1. Look For Dead or Dying Trees. Tom says “The biggest mistake people make when foraging is looking down! You want to look up at the top of the tree line. Look for trees without leafs. This indicates a dead or dying tree where you should find plenty of morels at the base.”
#2. Know Your Trees.The best tree to find morels near are Elm, Poplar, Apple, Sycamore and Ash trees.
#3. Know Your Soil. Look for sandy soil that is damp but not wet.
#4. Seek High Ground. Higher ground usually produces more mushrooms.
#5. Search in Season. Late April into May is prime time.
#6. Be Kind. Please pinch or cut, leaving the root. This helps promote a harvest in this area for the next morel season!
#7. Check the Stem. Be careful of the False Morel, as there are many types of morels, some edible and others poisonous. The sure fire way of knowing whether you have a true morel is to cut the stem in half lengthwise. If the stem is solid you have a false morel. Only true morels have hollow stems.
My Morel Hunt Experience
My luck finding morels in the past has been pitiful, but to be honest, I lose interest if I don’t find anything within the first 30 minutes of searching.
This year I’ve decided to up my chances and bring Tom along. Tom said he could find a morel within 30 minutes and less than 30 yards from my house.
The day that Tom and I ventured out on our hunt I have to admit I was a bit skeptical of his claims. We started in a patch of woods behind my house that I have been in multiple times looking for morels and came home with nothing more than bug bites and briar scratches. Tom said he sees a lot of ash trees and is certain there will be mushrooms growing around the base. After 15 minutes of hunting and my interest waning Tom stops and locks his eyes on a spot about five feet from where we are standing. He sort looks like a Springer Spaniel with his finger pointed and steady gaze.
I would have walked right past it. I’m convinced that part of a successful hunt is not only knowing where to look but knowing what to look for. They blend in so well to their surrounding that I’m sure I’ve walked past them hundreds of times!
We collected over 30 morels that day and I had more than enough to create some fantastic dishes.
Check out these recipes. If you are not fortune enough to have morels in your back yard you can always substitute with shitake, baby portabella or cremini mushrooms.
For more information on morel mushroom hunting log onto www.thegreatmorel.com.