It is the time of year when my sleep is dominated by dreams of morel mushroom hunts. Not just one dream, constant, recurring dreams of prolific patches of golden morels. And they're all for me, all for me. I have hunted mushrooms my entire life. Growing up in Bloomington on 100 acres of wood and field, it was easy. In my memory, a simple stroll into the valley yielded huge fairy rings of mushrooms. That was with a child's eyes and less deer (just a theory I have). It is a remarkably rewarding experience to hunt morels. An outing for the treasure hunter in us all. Even if one emerges from the forest empty handed, who doesn't like a walk in the woods in an Indiana spring...except the ticks...oh and the snakes...the briers. So here are a few hints I have.
- May-apples are only an indicator because they pop out when the season is upon us. It is not that you find them there. Although you could.
- Take a walking stick to gently lift leaves and toss snakes out of the way
- Of course, dead ash and elm....orchards, fields, lawns...I've found plenty in town!
- Stand in a spot, get low, crouch, scan about 5-6 feet out
- If you find a little guy, don't pick yet. Just look, hold still, take your time. Due to the underground action of fungi, there are usually more. This gig is not for the impatient to be sure.
- When you're cannot bear it another moment, cut your little morel(don't pull), shake gently to spread the spores. Try to place in a mesh bag to continue the spreading of spores.
- Yes, you MUST wash them. I slice in 1/2, toss it in salted water...rinse, redo, rinse, redo...I wash until there aren't particles in the bottom of the bowl.
- An overcast day is really good for hunting
- Ideal conditions are several 70 degree days...and warm nights, not under 50. Soil should be loamy and give under your feet. Rain. We do well to hunt after a number of good soakings.
- Hunt with a friend. It can be spiritually rewarding to be alone in the woods but hunting with a friend is nice too.
- One of my favorite ways to enjoy morels is just eggs, ramps and mushrooms...little goat cheese, yum! Damn good and damn simple. Always the Indiana bread and fry is welcome. I mix butter and olive oil for the frying to lessen the risk of burning. Of course a lovely saute and toss on grilled bread...titch of homemade ricotta. Oh yah, that'll do.
I ramble. Carry on and I would love to hear of your wild morel rompus-ing!