Morels are popping up. Grab your plastic bag, bucket or ball cap and get ready to fill it with tasty morels.
|Morels can be found along creek drainages and around older trees.|
Morel hunting is a great way to get outdoors in the early spring. Take the whole family. Toddlers and teenagers alike will get a charge out of rooting through the woods. Of course, toddlers will try to hide under the deep leaves on the forest floor and teenagers will vanish like ghosts to hide behind the biggest tree they can find to talk on their cell phones. Regardless, it is time spent together in the outdoors.
Morels are a known delicacy and fetch big bucks at the markets. That is only one reason why finding your own not only tickles your palate but your funny bone as well. It is indeed cool to be able to hunt and find your own food in the wild free for the taking.
Warm days and nights in late April, coupled with warm rains, is the perfect recipe for morels to push their way through the leaf litter. The tan to cream colored fungi is difficult to spot in the brown litter of the woods. However, practice makes one better at finding the tidbits, although not perfect.
In the Ozarks, morels can be found along creek drainages where the soil is rich and moist. Fairy rings, or circles, of morels are often found where ancient trees have succumbed to time. Mushroom aficionados each seem to have a favorite tree species where they look to find morels. Regardless, where you find one, you are likely to find more.
Friends and I once found the mother lode of morels along a small creek bottom that had been hit by a tornado a few years previously. The abundance of rotting stumps and tree trunks seemed to provide the perfect breeding ground for the delicate fungi.
My weirdest episode of morel hunting took place while turkey hunting in north Missouri several years ago. My turkey guide stopped along a gravel road with a spoil bank lined with silver maple trees. He broke out his binoculars and began scanning the ditch bank.
“Trees are kinda close for scouting for turkeys with binoculars, wouldn’t you say?" I asked.
“I am looking for morels, you dummy,” he replied. “And, I just spotted a boat load of ‘em. Bring your cap. We’ll have a feast tonight.”
If you don’t quite know how to get started mushroom hunting, do an Internet search for your area. Many of our public lands are open to mushroom hunting. You also might want to consider joining the Morel Mushroom Hunting Club.
What morels lack in size, they make up for in flavor. Split your morels in half or smaller pieces if necessary and soak in salt water for an hour or more to kill any bugs down in the fleshy crevices. Pat the pieces with a paper towel until dry. Dip the morel pieces in an egg batter, season to taste and drop into hot oil. Cook until golden brown.
You will discover the mighty taste or the wild morel.