It’s about that time of year again. The snow is finally melting and the temperature is starting to rise. While the warm temperature is nice, there’s something even better about spring…morel mushrooms!
If you’ve never eaten or heard of morel mushrooms, they’re a rare treat that only bloom once a year. You’ll rarely find them in your local grocery store either, and if you do, you’ll pay a small fortune for them.
If you’re not willing to pay a king’s ransom, and you’re fortunate enough to live in the upper half of the United States, here are a few helpful hints on where you can find morel mushrooms and how to identify them.
When the lilacs bloom…the mushrooms do, too!
While that’s not totally true, it does have some truth to it. Morel mushrooms start appearing in late April and keep growing through early June. The best time to look is when it’s warm and humid, and after heavy rainfall.
Where do I find them?
In the beginning of the season, check southern-facing hills, as they get more sunlight. Later on in the season, northern-facing hills will start to show signs of growth.
The best places to look are under dead and dying trees. Look under dying elm, ash, aspen, oak, and apple trees. Don’t forget to look within brambles and thick underbrush. Ravines and creek beds are also great spots to look as they tend to hold a lot of organic matter.
Well, what do they look like?
Morels are usually between 2 and 4 inches long. The cap is full of ridges and pits, and almost looks like a prune or sponge. They range in color from a pale yellow to dark gray. The bottom of the cap is attached to the stem, and when cut open lengthwise it should be hollow from the bottom of the stem to the top of the cap. A true morel mushroom will ALWAYS be hollow in the inside.
So I found a mushroom … what do I do?
When you spot a mushroom, STOP. Look around. There’s bound to be more. If you plan on hunting in the future, use a GPS to mark your location, as morels tend to grow in the same spot every year.
Word to the wise:
Morel mushrooms are fun to hunt for, and a great way to introduce young children to the Great Outdoors, but make sure you know what you are looking for. There are a variety of mushrooms that look like morels that can cause illness. It’s always best to start with an experienced mushroom hunter, so you know you’re finding the real deal. Happy hunting and be safe!
Have you found any morel mushrooms this year? Let us know!