A distinctive fungi that appears honeycomb-like, with their cap composed of a network of ridges with pits, Morel Mushrooms are sought by thousands of enthusiasts every spring for their supreme taste and the joy of the hunt, and are highly prized by gourmet cooks, particularly in French cuisine.
If you plan on going into the wild to find basket-fulls of your own beautiful Morels then follow these tips for a happy hunt and a full belly!
Firstly, look to the sky, or the thermometer. If the temperature is just right then the mushrooms will have a great delight.
David Smith of Wide Open Spaces had this to say:
“I’m not saying that morels are fickle or anything, but they are a little like baby bear who wanted his porridge to be just right.”
Keep an eye on the temperature outside. Morels like it when it starts to get around 60F degrees and above during the day and around 40F degrees at night. Also, get yourself a soil thermometer and check the temperature of the soil where you hunt. Morels start popping up when the earth gets between 45F degrees and 50F degrees.
While your in the dirt checking those temps, take a second to examine the slope of the hill. The side of a hill that gets more sun will, of course, get warmer before the other side. That’s where morels will start showing up first. Check those south-facing slopes early in the season.
Like many of you out there actively searching for shrooms, morels can be tree-huggers. So, learn to identify those trees, with and without their leaves. Morels like to hang around elm, ash, poplar and apple trees but don’t just look up to the canopy for answers. Seek out dead and dying trees too.
Nature’s mulch, a nutrient rich environment that is to mushrooms like steroids are to body-builders are where you will find them thriving.
Once you’ve found a nice hill, with choice trees (maybe some of them are dead or dying) and there’s a brisk chill in the air, make your way to the nearest loamy soil.
“WTF is that?” you ask? Why are you even reading this? Get the f#^* out of here!
I kid, I kid. Loamy soil is what you might find in creek bottoms. It’s well-drained, moist but not wet, has a good mix of clay, sand, decaying matter, calcium and/or lime.
Like the masochist that thrives in post-apocalyptic environments, burn sites and logging areas are often prime morel locations. Check online sources for wildfires that occurred the previous year in your area. Pay attention to wooded areas that have been torn up by large equipment or logging operations, or even areas that have been disturbed by flooding.
But, even with all these tips, morels often have a mind of their own, and have been known to appear wherever the hell they want to appear. Some have found them growing in gravel and under pine trees.
If you’re planning on mushroom hunting, follow these tips to give you an upper-hand and remember to pack a lunch and some tick repellent.