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How to Pick Mushrooms

Updated on February 14, 2013
a properly picked mushroom will have no dirt or roots taken from the ground
a properly picked mushroom will have no dirt or roots taken from the ground | Source

When to Pick Mushrooms

Before you need to know how to pick mushrooms, you need to know when to pick mushrooms. The fact is that morel mushrooms are only in season for a short time each spring, and a matter or a few days can make a huge difference in how lucky you are in a successful mushroom hunting trip.

Mushrooms will appear once there is a sufficient soil temperature in spring. Since it's pretty difficult to determine what the soil temperature will be in the woods, just head out to look once the daytime temperatures have started to reach the 60's or 70's. That will be warm enough to coax them out.

Moisture is another key factor. The ground must have moisture for these beauties to grow. Too much rain can actually hinder growth, and not enough moisture is also a bad thing. A nice sunny spring day after a recent rainfall is an ideal time to look.

Where to Pick Mushrooms

Once you know the time of year to head out, the next question is where to find morel mushrooms. The answer could really be anywhere, but there are some mushroom hunting tips that you can use to improve your chances.

The first places to look are near the base of dying trees, especially elm trees or big old ash or even oak trees. Apple orchards are another hot spot for mushrooms. Once a tree is truly dead, it may not be as good, but if you come across an elm that is currently dying and shedding bark, it could be a huge find.

Other places to check are low lying areas that may hold moisture, like natural ravines or sinkholes. Think about where some extra water may have passed and consider that to be a spot worth checking. A dying tree next to a ravine is a must-check location.

mushrooms usually stand up nicely so they are easy to pick without disturbing the soil
mushrooms usually stand up nicely so they are easy to pick without disturbing the soil | Source

How to Pick Mushrooms Properly

When you have finally found some mushrooms, here is how to pick them properly.

First, don't rush! The first instinct of most mushroom hunters is to scramble to the site of the first mushroom and pick it. Instead, stop in your tracks and look around. There are rarely mushrooms that grow all alone, and you don't want to step on others on your way to the one you spotted.

Once you get there, use both hands to break the stem cleanly, so that you leave the roots and soil in the ground right where it is. In this way, you won't bring along that dirt and mess into your mushroom hunting bag, and the mushrooms will stay clean until you get home.

There are many hunters out there who also believe that leaving the roots in the ground may pave the way for more mushrooms the following season, thus by marking the spot mentally or with a GPS a hunter can guarantee success next year. I'd have to say this is most likely an old wive's tale and that environmental conditions and weather factors are what produces mushrooms, but you never know.

How to Cook Morel Mushrooms

Now that you have some properly picked morel mushrooms, here is a great way to enjoy them. Try this simple morel mushroom recipe for a side dish that will go perfectly with a steak or burger.


  • morel mushrooms
  • eggs
  • milk
  • corn flake crumbs
  • butter


  1. Clean morels by soaking in a tub of water for an hour with salt, which will get any critters to evacuate. Cut in half and tap gently on the sink to remove any other debris.
  2. Mix eggs with just a small amount of milk to create a batter. Dip cleaned and halved morels in batter to coat, then cover with corn flake crumbs.
  3. Cook over medium heat with butter to cook the mushrooms to a delicious golden brown, turning once or twice to prevent overcooking on one side.

You Should Know This

If you want to know the secret mushroom spot in town, don't bother. A hunter will avoid answering this question at any cost. Instead, go find your own. And when someone asks you where you found them, just scratch your head and tell them you can't exactly recall - even if it's stored in your GPS device for next year. We all play the same game.


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    • prokidwriter profile image

      prokidwriter 4 years ago from America's Finest City

      I can't wait to try your recipe!

    • Dreamhowl profile image

      Jessica Marello 4 years ago from United States

      What an interesting looking mushroom! I had no idea there was such a process involved. Voted up!

    • KawikaChann profile image

      KawikaChann 4 years ago from Northwest, Hawaii, Anykine place

      Haha, nicely done Lando - especially that last bit. I am not familiar with this type of mushroom, but I love them all I do. Voted you up/awesome. Peace. Kawi.