Time for shrooming

May 13, 2014

By Allison Scarbrough. OCP Editor.
unnamedSpring has sprung and morel mushroom season has begun.
Many morel hunters are finding large quantities of good-sized morels right now all over Oceana, Mason and Manistee counties. The white morels are popping up, and black ones were found earlier in the season.
I have found two decent-sized messes of morels so far this season, and I’m hoping to find more as the season continues for a couple more weeks.
The best places to look are near poplar trees, orchards, sloped land and dead elm trees. With the recent rain we’ve been getting, more and more morels should be popping up. The elusive shrooms like moisture from the rain, and then pop out of the ground when sunny conditions warm up the earth.
If you find a good spot, keep it a secret. If anyone finds out that you’re picking morels in a certain spot, your spot could be picked clean next time you hunt there. My dad has always been an avid morel hunter, and he has even gone to such extremes as having a newcomer to his spot wear a paper bag over their head when riding to the location with him so they can never find it again. Even if you’re not going to make someone wear a bag over his or her head, make sure to bring a bag with you when you hunt. You will need a mesh bag, preferably, to collect your mushrooms. A mesh bag, such ones that onions or oranges are sold in, make great morel-collecting bags. The mesh allows the morel spores to drop to the ground with the hope that more morels will grow in your hunting area for the next visit.
When you find a morel, make sure to stop and look behind you. Chances 0are really good that you may have walked right past one. This is advice from my dad, and it has worked or me countless times.
Morels are tricky little guys. They blend in with the scenery. Once you have found one, your eye becomes more trained to find more. Look closely at your first pick, so you can keep the morel markings in your head as you look for more.
Sometimes morels pop up in the most unusual places and do not grow in conditions that you think are ideal. My cousin one time found morels growing in wood chips in a landscaped area outside of a McDonald’s restaurant. I guess they were “McMorels.”
If you find some really tiny morels, you might want to let them grow for a few days. Now, this theory that they grow has come under debate. Some people believe that they do not grow any larger – they just pop up at the size they will always be. Others believe they grow more after they have popped out of the ground. A friend of mine found some really small ones last weekend and tested out the theory. He marked the spots where the miniscule mushrooms were and returned a day later only to find them the same exact size.
unnamed-1Be careful to consume only true morels. There are false morels that grow out in the local wilderness, and they can make you sick. If the stem is not attached to the base of the mushroom, it is not safe to eat.
Make sure to thoroughly clean your morels before consumption. Bugs like to crawl inside them. Cut each morel in half, length-wise, and let them soak in water for an hour or so. Once they are all cleaned, roll them in flour and fry them in hot oil until crispy. Add some salt and pepper for seasoning and enjoy.
Happy hunting!

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