Harvesting Wild Morel Mushrooms
Some of my favorite childhood memories were mushroom hunting with my Dad! It is something that I do every year sharing my harvest with friends and family.
Over the years I have learned a few things about morels and I am going to share them with you:
WHEN and WHERE? Morels are usually popping up in the valley around the time the fruit trees are blooming and a few weeks later in the woods and mountain areas.
You cannot cultivate them. Well at least, I have never heard of anyone that has been able to cultivate them. They are picky and only grow where conditions are right. This is one quality that makes them such a rare treasure.
KNOW YOUR SHROOM: I have not often seen a false morel BUT they're out there. You can distinguish the difference a few ways. First, if the stem and cap are hollow, it is a true morel. This means nothing is inside the mushroom and you can see all the way to the top of the cap from looking up the stem. Second, if the stem and cap are all attached as one piece, it is a true morel. The stem will be attached to the bottom of the cap. Beware of "skirt" looking caps on morels and non-hollow stems this could indicate that they are false.
HARVESTING: I have learned to pinch or cut the stem instead of pulling the entire mushroom out of the ground. It is said that if you leave the "roots" in the ground that mushrooms will grow back in the same spot in the future.
When harvesting morels it is best to use an onion sack, mesh bag or a basket (this allows spores travel freely while you continue your hunt).
BE AWARE: If you are hunting morels in an orchard please get permission from the owner instead of trespassing and keep in mind that the orchard may be treated with harmful chemicals. Unfortunately, mushrooms are like a sponge, soaking up everything in the dirt from which they emerge.
Morels are a treasure of early spring! Happy hunting everyone!
Check out my Homemade Morel Mushroom Gravy Recipe!