Morel Mushroom Hunting

A mature grey morel reaching its stage in life when spores are released.
A mature grey morel reaching its stage in life when spores are released. | Source

Morel Overview

Morel mushrooms are deemed a delicacy by many people around the world. Morels are common near the Great Lakes region of the U.S. Hunting and gathering morels is an annual ritual for many mushroom hunters and fungi enthusiasts. Morel season is usually around the middle of April, but can vary depending on climate and weather. Morels grow near select types of dying or already dead trees. For an inexperienced mushroom hunter, finding these certain trees and identifying morels may take a substantial amount of time during the first hunt. Once a morel is spotted and confirmed, the patience will pay off and morels will become easier to spot. Many morel hunters return to their "secret spots" every season to harvest the elusive mushroom.

A common yellow morel
A common yellow morel | Source

When to Find Morels

Hunting Season
Morels tend to "sprout" from the ground when early spring weather reaches between 60 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit during daylight hours. The temperature must remain above 40 degrees Fahrenheit during nighttime hours. These temperatures generally occur in mid-April. The hunting season only lasts about 3 to 4 weeks. High humidity is needed for all mushroom growth, so a rainy spring is beneficial.

Where to Find Morels

Suitable Areas
Morels are very unique in shape. The mushroom cap is spongy and conical, and may be yellow, brown, gray and black. Some say morels resemble a brain, due to the weird surface of the mushroom's cap. Morels have a hollow core in the cap and stem. False morels are mushrooms that resemble morels, but have a cotton-like meaty core.

Mushroom Identification

Spotting suitable areas for morel growth will greatly increase odds of the hunt. Morel mycelium (mycelium are comparable to roots in plants) favor the decomposition of elm, ash and poplar trees within wooded areas. Stumps and fallen trees are indicators of possible mushroom growth. Healthy looking trees may also have morels growing nearby.

Picking Morels

A sharp knife should be used to cleanly cut the base of the stem horizontally, as close to the ground as possible. Place them into a perforated bag, because mature mushrooms will disperse spores. Spores will pass through the perforated bag and onto the ground, which may create next season's harvest.

Morels sautéed and served with foraged asparagus
Morels sautéed and served with foraged asparagus | Source

Eating!

All food has a near infinite number of ways to prepare and eat. Morels are just the same. There are recipes all over the internet, from sauteing to baking. It is all up to the fortunate ones who partake in the seasonal delicacy to decide the delicious outcome.

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seh1101 4 years ago from Wisconsin, USA Author

I have already found about two dozen morels here in Wisconsin! Earliest season yet. Get out there and start hunting, everyone! The inevitable frost may put a damper on them, so collect them while you can!

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