Gathering Morel Mushrooms

gathering morel mushroomsI’m not one to go gathering mushrooms in the wild. There are too many risks. The one gathering mushrooms must be certain what he is gathering, or he may wind up very sick or very dead. But there is a single exception for me. I don’t mind gathering morel mushrooms. Why do I feel so confident about them?

Appearance

Morel mushrooms proffer a very definite time window for gathering. Morel mushrooms also present a very distinct appearance, different from other mushrooms. Just look at the image associated with this article and it becomes obvious that my words are true. They look like miniature sponges!

Preparing

In my limited experience, morel mushrooms offer no unique flavor that distinguishes it from all other mushrooms. Still, it has a delicate texture and is, after all, free. Free always tastes sweet! But they are free with a catch. The catch is the nooks and crannies of the morel often are infested with super-tiny gray critters called springtails (Collembola).

morel mushrooms
Bottom of a morel.

Quickly after gathering, immerse morels in the refrigerator in some salt water. The springtails will rise to the surface of the liquid. You may wish to change the water once, though it is not essential. Do with the mushrooms what you would with other mushrooms. I would especially recommend frying them with a steak.

Where, When, Why Morel Mushrooms

Morels may be found in mid-Virgina about tax time, the middle of April. They last for a while, but the window of opportunity for gathering is decidedly limited. They are found in, or at the edge of, rich woods. Although there are a number of varieties of morel, in general, they are very similar. Morel mushrooms are considered to be good sources of Vitamin D, iron, and B-vitamins.

Note: You might also enjoy Puffballs, Earthstars, Jelly, and Bracket Fungi

References:

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6 thoughts on “Gathering Morel Mushrooms

  • I’ve seen morel mushrooms many times but have never taken the chance to pick any. I’m not sure that I trust myself to be picking the right ones. Thanks for the info on the springtails as that is something I wasn’t aware of.

    • Morels are the only mushroom I do trust myself to accurately identify. Really, they are pretty much different from all others, with the single exception of the false Morel. However, even they are not too difficult to avoid if you’ve seen the “real thing”. And the photo included with this article is an excellent one to assist in that accurate identification.

  • My cousin brought me some morel mushrooms, which I cooked. I didn’t soak them in salt water first, so probably ate plenty of springtails. At least they were cooked. I read all about morels online and then next day, went into the woods looking for them. I never could find them, even though I went out several times. This was in southern Illinois. I was visiting my aunt at the time.

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