Every spring we look forward to morel hunting. Some folks really love the flavor of morels. i admit, they just taste like a mushroom to me, nothing all that special. The thing that makes them exciting to find is in the hunt itself.
Morels are funny things. i often tell people the best way to find morels is to stop looking. In all our years of morel hunting we almost always find the first one as soon as we 'give up'. Once you you spot that first one, the others just seem to appear all around as if they were little wood sprites hiding the whole time.
Morel season typically begins around the middle of April and can last until June, depending on weather conditions. i've learned from experience that they first start appearing the same time the trillium and mayapples begin to appear. Last week i was thinking about morels, so we too a drive to a spot where we'd found some a few years back. Once we got there and took a look at the wildflowers that were blooming i realized we were still a bit early. i knew that the dwarf iris were in full bloom when the morels appeared.
Last week while cleaning out my native wildflower bed, i spotted this tiny little morel! It's was less than an inch tall and had just started coming up. We had rain predicted for later that week and i knew that after the rain, once the sun came out the morels would start appearing. In the passed when we found morels i would shake them over this garden hoping that they would eventually spore. For the last few years i have found one or two morels in the bed each spring. i never pick them, always hoping they will spore and become well established here. Morels are tricky though, and conditions have to be perfect for them to grow.
After the rain, i waited a few days and then took off hiking in the woods behind our house. i crossed over the little creek, and headed up an embankment where i saw a large tree down. There are a lot of trees down in our woods, but i just had a feeling about this one.
The first thing that caught my eye was the bright orange red spotted newt efts that seemed to be every where. i squatted down to get a picture of one, and to my surprise saw a morel right next to it!
So then i began to look around. i saw more efts, and mor morels! They were not easy to find. i found most right around that large downed tree, but found many others in the same area but several yards away. Some were in a ravine, and some were in an open area that was full of green woodland plants. i don't know what type of tree was down, but i believe it was hardwood, most likely an oak tree or a poplar. From what i have read, morels are most often found around dead elm trees, under old apple trees and occasionally around oak and poplar.
After hunting the area and finding as many i could, i headed back home. i always collect morels in an old onion bag hoping that they drop spores along the way. i wandered down to our creek where there in an old apple tree. For years i've carried the morels down there hoping to get them to spore under the tree. To my surprise when i began shaking my morel bag under the tree, i found a couple already coming up there!
The next day i took the family out morel hunting. My girl gave up before she even started looking and was the first to find one!
My boy was feeling a bit discouraged when every one had found one except him. As soon as he gave up, he found one!
My husband found the largest one, and was incredibly proud of it. lol.
My picture is a bit blurry, but this was the first batch that found. i found a few others after this, and my total for this spring is at 43. That's the most i have ever found! We are getting rain again today, so i'm already excited about going out hunting again this weekend.
We prepared the morels by dipping them in seasoned flour and frying them in butter. They are quite tasty, but for me the best part is really just in the magic of finding them.