Searching for the Elusive Morel
The morel is probably the most mysterious species of fungi in the woods. Even though there are proven studies as to where morels may fruit, there is always the area where you may find morels growing that goes against all facts and is explainable. Generally morels grow where they want and when they want. Usually in May after rain and warm weather. Usually when you find one morel there is usually more than one in that area. Morels tend to have a root system which causes them to fruit in bunches. This is not true in all cases. Sometimes there may be only one or two but most of the time they will come in flushes or as little as two's and threes. A lot of this depends on the weather also.
The most common place to find morels is in the woods. Morels like to come up around dead and decaying trees such as the Elm. Morels will grow in heavy leaf cover, dried creek bottoms and heavy foliage. Try hunting near edges of river banks and mossy areas. Look for areas that have a rich black and sandy soil. Morels seem to prefer sandy soils. Morels hate clay. They should be well drained and no standing water. Shady areas are ideal for late season hunting and more open areas in the early season.
Keep in mind these hints where they might be:
Near dead trees
Under and near
Under and near Ash trees
Under and near Apple trees
Under and near dead Elm Trees
In old apple orchards
On south-facing slopes
On north-facing slopes
In sandy soil
Near wood piles
In dried river bottoms and creek beds
Along river beds
At burn sites
Near railroad tracks
In May Apple patches
I will share my very simple recipe with you today.
Cast iron skillet
Salt/Pepper to taste.
Clean and cut your morels in half. Fill a bowl with water and add several pinches of salt to the water. Soak your mushrooms overnight. Put in a colander to drain all of the excess water off.
Melt butter in frying pan on medium heat. Do not let it brown.
Coat your morels lightly in flour. I use a plate because they are delicate and I don’t want to break up any of the mushroom. Some people do it in a ziplock bag. Coat the cleaned morels with flour.
Sauté mushrooms gently in butter. Salt and pepper to your taste. Sauté until they are golden brown and turn over carefully and brown on other side. When they have crisped up they are done.
This is a near religious experience. Because it is all about the mushroom, I do not mess with perfection. I have never wavered from this simple recipe. I know people who coat them in egg and cracker crumbs, but I've never gone there.
If you are lucky enough to have any excess morels, you can freeze them for winter. After washing and soaking your mushrooms in salt water, dust them with a little flour, put them on cookie sheet and freeze solid. The flour keeps them from sticking together in freezer bag. Once they are frozen, put them in a freezer bag.
Whether you are a hunter or gatherer, I hope you have a great day. Be happy and may God bless you and yours.