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Forget truffles. You haven’t experienced mushrooms until you’ve tasted a morel. When the mid-April to mid-June season hits, you can spend $20 or more per pound at a grocery store. Or you can take advantage of a warm spring day — the kind of weather morels love — and tromp through the woods to find your own.
Here are some tips and tricks to having a successful morel hunting season:
Before the season begins, train your eyes. Look at photos of morels daily. You’ll have an easier time spotting them if you get familiar with their shape, color and pattern before hunting. This is a process known as imprinting.
Wait until the weather is just right. Morels can be a bit finicky when it comes to weather conditions. You should start seeing morels when daytime temperatures are between 60-70 degrees and nighttime lows stay above 40 degrees. Or, if you believe in old wives’ tales, look for these signs:
- When the backyard lilacs begin to bloom.
- Exactly 10-12 days after the first dandelions open.
- When the oak leaves are the size of a squirrel’s ear. (Have fun figuring that one out.)
Look up before you look down. Morels live in forested areas and are often spotted near elm, ash, poplar and apple trees. Early in the spring, you’ll find them along forest edges and on south-facing slopes, but as the season progresses, they’ll be deeper in the woods and on north-facing slopes. Look for dead and decaying trees too.
Watch for loamy and disturbed ground. Moist but not wet and well-drained soil made of sand, silt and a small amount of clay is called loam, and it’s a morel hot spot. You’ll find this type of soil near creeks. Morels also like ground that has recently been distressed, so look for areas that have been torn up by wildfires, flooding or even large equipment and logging operations.
Walk, walk some more, and then…walk some more. The more ground you cover, the more morels you’re going to find. When you do collect one or two, slow down and search that area carefully because where you find a few, there is almost always more close by.
Protect yourself from ticks, naturally. There may be times when you don’t find any morels in the woods, but ticks will probably always find you. Wear long sleeves and pants tucked into your socks, and don’t forget the Bug Protector Tick repellent.
Eat and stay safe. During and after your mushroom searching, make safety a priority.
- Morels can spoil quickly, so don’t use plastic bags when collecting. Instead, opt for baskets or mesh bags and, after proper cleansing, transfer your haul to paper bags for refrigerator storage.
- Wash morels REALLY well prior to consuming. In fact, it’s best to soak them in water for an hour or two to remove all dirt and any bugs living inside each mushroom’s many pits and ridges.
- Morels are not safe to eat raw, so always cook them. We suggest sautéing in butter — it’s so good. Even if you plan on freezing them, it’s best to cook them for a couple minutes first to stop any bacteria growth.
The more time you spend morel hunting, the more you’ll discover how addicting it can be. You may also find yourself keeping your best spots top secret — many do! Just don’t say we didn’t warn you.