April is morel-season here in Missouri, and much of the Midwest. Morels are one of my favorite wild mushrooms. They’re delicious of course, but they also symbolize the beginning of a long stretch of foraging opportunities – chanterelles, oyster mushrooms, blackberries, service berries, elderberries, pawpaws, wild greens, and more.
If you’re interested in collecting mushrooms or other wild edibles, contact your local wildlife or conservation department. They can help you determine when and where to find morels. But the best way to learn how to forage for morels is to find someone who knows their ‘shrooms and ask if you can tag along on a hunt.
Forests with dead or drying elms, old apple orchards, and woods that have been recently burned are often good places to find morels… but these mushrooms seem to love breaking the rules! Trial and error is usually the best strategy.
Hunting for morels doesn’t entail much more than wandering around in the woods with your eyes on the ground. Where you find one morel, you’ll usually find several more. Be sure to familiarize yourself with potentially toxic false morels before you begin foraging.The best way to prepare morels is to rinse them with water, half them lengthwise, and then rinse them again (some suggest soaking the morels in salt water to kill any insects, but this step is usually unnecessary).
To cook them simply, heat extra virgin olive oil (or a mixture of oil and butter) in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the halved morels, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms are tender. Add a splash of dry white wine, let it boil away, then turn the heat down to medium-low. Add some minced garlic and chopped fresh parsley, cook for about a minute longer, and then serve warm.
For more recipe ideas, click here.
For more information on hunting morels, visit:
- Morel Mania: A How-to for Neophyte Morel Hunters
- Munchable Morels
- Edible and Poisonous Mushrooms
- The Great Morel
- Weekend Adventure: Forage for Stinging Nettles!
- Wild Greens in the Great White North
- Five Ways to Serve Wild and Exotic Mushrooms