Morels, which are fungi with a sweet, succulent taste, are sneaky about where they grow, so hunting them is almost as much fun as cooking them. Morel mushrooms tend to hide under piles of leaves and have a short emergence period. They congregate around downed logs, especially oak, and in places where there have been fires. Idaho has a large mushroom-picking community with two large mycological societies based in the state. Morels grow in the same site annually.
Things You'll Need
- Personal use permit
- Hiking gear
- Mushroom guide
- Mesh bag
- Small sharp knife
- Cell phone
Stop in to a Forest Services office in Idaho or register online for a Personal Use Permit. This will allow you to harvest 5 gallons of morel mushrooms for your home use. You are not allowed to sell them, or you must get a commercial permit. There is no fee for the Personal Use Permit.
Wear appropriate clothing. Although morels can pop up anytime, spring is the most likely period to find them in numbers. Spring can bring sun or rain, so be prepared and have good hiking boots.
Carry a map of the area where you will be looking and a mushroom guide unless you have an expert on your hunt. There are poisonous mushrooms and the false morel which looks almost exactly like the true morel. The false morel is toxic and will make the person who ingests it very sick.
Look by downed logs and in areas where there have been recent fires. The morels may peek up through leaves, or you may have to brush the leaves away from the bases of trees to get a good view.
Search near trillium, the shade-loving wild flower with three-lobed leaves and a flower that echoes the shape. Morels tend to grow near these flowers.
Harvest the morels with a sharp knife, severing them near the ground. Don't pull them, or you will disturb the mycellium that will start the next season's crop. Place them gently in a mesh bag and use them immediately. If you can't use all of them right away, store them under paper towels in the refrigerator for a day or two.
- Photo Credit The mushroom morel image by Ludmila Galchenkova from Fotolia.com
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