With the temperatures on the rise and April showers working on May flowers, the timing is right to whet your appetite for fried morel mushrooms
If you’ve never tried fried morels, you do not know what you are missing. Even for the non-mushroom crowd, many find themselves enjoying the taste of morels. They are not slimy at all, but they have more of a meaty texture that is sure to please.
Growing up in southern Illinois, the rainy April season meant one significant thing to my family: mushroom hunting season. I’ve been away from the area for several years, but the taste and smell of fried mushrooms is a memory that does not fade. I remember many afternoons spent in the woods looking for morels. We spent a lot of time and effort searching for these tasty treats with my parents, grandparents, and aunts and uncles. With the support of my current mushroom hunting experts, my dad Dennis and my uncle Bill, we came up with some mushroom hunting “expert tips.”
— Save your bread sacks to store all of your mushrooms that you find. Take more than you think that you might need. If the timing is right, you might end up needing more than you think.
–Wear light-weight long sleeved shirts and pants. You are hunting for morels in the woods and can be prone to suffer sticks, scrapes, and bugs. It’s also a good idea to dress in layers, as it may be warmer outside the wooded area than when you are surrounded by trees and shade. Make sure to bring your bug repellent and look out for ticks once you return from your trip. It’s also a great idea to wear old tennis shoes or boots if you have them, as the ground is often muddy and messy. Make sure to park in an area where you don’t end up getting your car stuck in the mud.
–Make sure that you have permission to hunt for morels on the property you target. Often it is difficult to determine where property lines begin and end, so it is very important to know that you have permission to be where you hope to search. That being said, if you find a good spot and are successful, be mindful who you give that information to because you will be competing with them for future treasures.
–It’s been said that the best morel hunters learn from the older generation. Knowledge is very important when it comes to morel hunting because some false morels can make you sick or even kill you. It is recommended to look along ditches in the woods. Mushrooms will often grow in patches; if you find one, look very carefully as there is a good chance more are close by. It has also been said that morels are often situated around elm trees. Mushrooms are often camouflaged by leaves, sticks, bark, and other items you find in nature. Focus your vision on the ground and walk slowly through the woods because you don’t want to end up stepping on morels. You might also find that the quiet time in nature is good for your soul.
–Make sure that you clean your mushrooms very thoroughly before you eat them. You should trim the ends of the mushrooms and soak them. My parents and grandparents would always cut them in half and dip them in flour, salt, and pepper and then fry them on the oven. It is a taste that is hard to describe, but oh so delicious.
If you don’t have access to wooded property to search on or if you find yourself short on time, some area businesses sell morels for upwards of $40/pound. I can personally tell you that the expense has been tempting.
Know of some tips that we forgot? We’d love to add them. Email us and let us know and you might find them listed here.