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Morel Dilemma

Updated on August 3, 2012
almost too late - began to wilt
almost too late - began to wilt

Every year around Mother’s Day here in Southern Michigan from the forest floor there sprouts a crop of edible and tasty fungi. The mushroom, genus Morchella, appears on the back five acres of my homestead which is largely forested with a variety of deciduous trees. I find most mushrooms at the base of or near larger ash trees.During the years in which I’ve inhabited this property I’ve searched for the fungi every Spring and each year the species, size and abundance varies. My personal belief is that it has much to do with the weather in the springtime. It seems like I have the best luck when the temperatures are warmer and stable. Wild swings in temperature, excessive rainfall or lack of, or extreme cold seems to reduce the yield considerably. The best season I remember? I recall warm and humid but not excessively moist Spring weather. I usually find the common or yellow or golden (M. esculenta) which seem to grow to the largest size, but sometimes I find the gray or white (M. deliciosa) or black (M. elata), the smallest in my experience. I’ve found mushrooms as large as beer cans and as small as my thumbnail. There is a species of poisonous fungi,sometimes called a False Morel,which have an appearance similar to true Morels. The cap appearance is slightly different and is attached to the stem at the apex, similar to a toad stool. The true Morelhas a stem and cap that is one continuous piece so that when sliced in half from cap to stem it is hollow. I’ve never found a False Morel .

So my dilemma is this:

I only found a few mushrooms this year. We had a very warm late winter followed by a cold spring. Should I cook the tasty morsels by coating with flour and frying in butter until golden crispy brown and enjoying them alone as a snack with salt and pepper? ….or, should I sauté them in butter with garlic and serve with seared venison back-strap?

I chose the latter and prepared my meal thusly:

  • Rinse the mushrooms then slice in quarters vertically.
  • Rinse the pieces to remove any dirt or insects.
  • Melt 2T of real butter in a pan with a large amount of crushed garlic.
  • On medium heat sauté until the mushrooms begin to shrink somewhat
  • Partially thaw the frozen venison steaks and pat dry with paper towel
  • Sprinkle with Lawry’s season salt and fry with 1T butter and 1T olive oil in a hot cast iron pan
  • Add lots of garlic and some rosemary when you flip the steaks
  • Serve with your favorite veggie like roasted potatoes with green beans and your favorite red wine


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    • Karine Gordineer profile image

      Karine Gordineer 

      8 years ago from Upstate New York

      Sure. One of the ID's for that plant is that it normally grows in fairly moist to somewhat swampy areas, when you put water on the leaves the water sits on top and looks like a silver "jewel" and if you break off a stem the plant is fairly "juicy". That juice is amazingly affective against poison ivy...since I see you're a "woods person" I thought it might be useful. It will grow up to 3 - 4 feet depending upon the locale, and the seed heads "pop" when you touch them. Its other name is "touch me not"....sorry I couldn't help but notice them in your photo! The ones there are very tiny but they usually grow pretty high by the end of the season.

    • jimmar profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Michigan

      Hmmm. Jewelweed, I'll have to check into how to identify it. Thanks for the tip.

    • Karine Gordineer profile image

      Karine Gordineer 

      8 years ago from Upstate New York

      Thanks for the Hub on Morels. I'm more of an herbalist than a mushroomer but I'd like to learn more about mushrooms. I think it would be great if you could find a false morel so people could see what it looks like. You may already be aware but it looks like you have Jewelweed (Impatiens spp.) growing next to your Morels in the first photo - topically it's good for poison ivy.

    • jimmar profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Michigan

      Thanks Jenna. It was delish!

    • Jenna Pope profile image

      Jenna Pope 

      8 years ago from Southern California

      Excellent article. Made me hungry!


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