Morels are distinctive mushrooms found throughout the United States during the spring and early summer. Experienced and amateur mushroom hunters desire morels in part because of their unique appearance and flavor. Morels are plentiful in northern Wisconsin during early spring when mild and wet weather creates ideal growing conditions for the fungi.
Mushroom hunting, mushrooming, mushroom picking or mushroom collecting involves gathering wild mushrooms for cooking or storage. This is a popular activity in countries like Lithuania, Poland, Russia, Japan, Canada and the United States. Hunters must be able to distinguish between wild mushrooms that are safe for human consumption and those that are poisonous.
Donald M. Huffman and Lois H. Tiffany, authors of "Mushrooms In Your Pocket", describe morels as having dark or yellow sponge or honeycomb-like caps and hollow white stems, an appearance that makes these mushrooms easy to recognize. Morels are desirable for their earthy and nutty flavor and grow to between two and 12 inches tall. Morels are found in wet woodland areas throughout the United States but according to "The Great Morel" website, the fungi are particularly plentiful in the Great Lakes region.
Morels are found in spring through early summer on the ground in wooded areas. Michael Kuo, author of "100 Edible Mushrooms With Tested Recipies", notes that black morels are most often found under dead or dying ash trees and in conifer burn sites while yellow morels are found under ash, tulip trees, old apple trees, dead elms and under cottonwoods in river bottoms. Use a knife to slice the morel off above ground, trim dirt and debris with a soft-bristle brush and place in a large, open basket or paper bag. Morels can be consumed fresh or frozen or dried and stored.
Morel Hunting in Northern Wisconsin
Morels appear by mid-May throughout northern Wisconsin's Northwoods region and are hunted through the early summer. Residents and visitors hunt mushrooms in the area's public and private forests and parks or along hiking trails like Fern Ridge. Hunters often forage for morels in groups with an experienced mushroom guide. Hunters also join clubs like the Northstate Mycological Club, based in St. Germain, Wisconsin, or the Wisconsin Mycological Society of New Berlin and participate in spring and fall group forays and learn about fungi from experienced mycologists.
Eating and Storing Morels
Slice morels lengthwise to clean any slugs or larvae hiding in the hollow stems. Rinse under running water and drain thoroughly on paper towels or in a colander. Morels can be dried in a food dehydrator, strung in a warm room or in a warm oven with the door ajar. Morels can also be sauteed in butter or olive oil for a few minutes before being placed in freezer bags and frozen. Fresh morels can be stuffed, baked, creamed, stewed and breaded and fried. Morels can also be sauteed in butter or olive oil for five minutes per side.
- "Mushrooms In Your Pocket"; Donald M. Huffman and Lois H. Tiffany; 2004
- "100 Edible Mushrooms With Tested Recipies"; Michael Kuo; 2007
- The Great Morel: FAQ
- Photo Credit The mushroom morel image by Ludmila Galchenkova from Fotolia.com
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