Wednesday, May 1, 2013

It's Morel Mushroom Season!

When the redbuds are in bloom, the mushrooms are popping up...
Every spring I carefully watch all of the redbuds in my area and am ready for hunting as soon as the reddish purple flowers pop out on the scrawny branches.  Of course, timing is not the only important aspect of the mushrooms arrival.  The weather also has to be right.  If the weather is not quite right at the right time, the mushroom harvest will be smaller.  This year seems to be one of those years so far, and the weather to come in the next few days doesn't look promising either.

This year, I am lucky enough to live right on the edge of timber.  Down in the timber is where most folks pick their mushrooms.  However, they really can grow anywhere. Grandma picks them right out of her backyard, in the middle of town, some years.  Growing up, I was always taught to look around the hedge trees and may apples.  I have picked them under many different kinds of trees though, from sycamore to cedar.

Last year, was an exciting year for picking.  Here are a few tips for mushroom hunting:
1. Never pick on land that isn't yours without specific permission!
2. Wear appropriate clothes.
This was an unplanned Easter hunt. My legs were scratched up, my lace blouse was snagged.  I borrowed tennis shoes from my aunt, but even those did not protect me from honey locust thorns.
3. Wear bug spray.  Ticks are out and eager to get you this time of year.
4. Take a bag with you.  We recycle shopping bags.
5. Know what you're hunting for and don't pick it or eat it if you aren't absolutely sure its a morel.
Click Here for a Great Link All About Morel Mushrooms!
6. Be sure to stop and smell the may flowers. And, while you're at it, enjoy the natural beauty of God's handiwork.
7. Really study the ground while you are hunting.  To a novice, those little buggers can really blend in with the land, litter and plants around them.
8. Get some tips on the best places to hunt (if you can find someone who is willing to reveal their secrets) and listen to the buzz in the area about the kinds, amounts and sizes of mushrooms folks are picking.  Here and now, I have heard that folks have been picking the smaller grey morels for a week or two and the larger yellower morels are just popping up on the bluffs and river bottoms.

So far, we have not found a single mushroom in our timber.  Either they haven't popped up or we just aren't very good hunters, or maybe they don't grow there.  Anything is possible.  However, we will keep looking.  It is a great family activity, plus we have found some other great finds, like raspberry and gooseberry patches!

Here is another great link which shows where mushrooms have been reported:

9. Soak your harvest in salt water, and cook them up soon, They will get mushy and go bad in just a couple of days, so don't delay enjoying them!

10.  If you have extra, either freeze or dry them to enjoy them later or share them!  There are whole communities of men and women who have lost the ability to hunt their own mushrooms, but still would love a taste one of mother nature's finest delicacies.

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