Spring is Morels season in the Ozark. Morels were the topic of one conversation we had with a native here last year, and I have been looking forward to trying them ever since. I had to go to Jasper recently (small town) to the courthouse recently, and saw an old, crusty guy leaning against the counter chatting with the ladies, and what was the topic of conversation? “The Mushrooms.” A little later that same day, I went to the Motor Vehicle building and there was yet another old, crusty guy (yes, they seem to congregate in these parts) and he, too, was chatting with the ladies behind the counter about “The Mushrooms.” I’m not joking.
Morels are somewhat of a delicacy. They are a kind of mushroom that only grow in the Spring and only under the right conditions. I’ve read that they can’t be cultivated and can only be found in the wild. They can be found under certain kinds of trees, and often, in the same spot each year. They are also only found in certain states, Arkansas and Missouri being two of them.
One of The Brethren was passing by on his four wheeler the other day. Bud saw him coming and met him on the road to chat, as they often do. He mentioned that he was just out ‘gathering his supper,’ and he reached back to the compartment of his four wheeler and proudly pulled out a ziplock bag of the strangest looking mushrooms I have ever seen. He gave us a quick (general) run down of where they could be found.
While we were there chatting, his son drove by, his elbow hanging out the window with a big grin on his face. He pulled out an even fuller ziplock bag of much larger morels, and they started teasing each other about whose mushrooms were bigger and who had more. The son won, hands down, but he let his Dad off without too much teasing. We listened closely as they hinted at finding their stash at their ‘secret spot’ but they never came out and said exactly where they were found. Apparently, morel hunters carefully guard the secret of where they find their stash, since they tend to be found in the same place each year.
Needless to say, our interest was piqued. Bud told me to change out of the flip flops and put on some real shoes. I grabbed a plastic bag and we set off to find some morels. We had gotten a good look at them, and since they are so distinctive, I wasn’t afraid of getting hold of something poisonous. I had looked them up previously on the internet and there is only one poisonous mushroom that looks similar, and it’s not even close to the real thing. Morels are also hollow inside.
We first checked a spot where the guy had haphazardly pointed toward, saying that the previous owners had told him they’d found them there. We found two there. We were on a roll, and our appetite was whetted for more. It’s kind of addictive to hunt them, since they aren’t prevalent, and can’t be found just anywhere. I finally found about 6 more, all under the same tree. I had almost given up hope of finding any more, when an unusual, dark brown, cup shaped mushroom caught my eye. When I got closer to inspect it, I looked beyond them and I saw the morels.
We brought them home, and I fixed them exactly as The Brother had said they fixed them. I scrambled an egg, mixed in a little milk ‘to thin it down some.’ Then, I dipped it in flour with a little salt, and fried them in butter. Mmmmmmm….I have to admit, they were every bit as good as he said they were. The only thing I might add in the future is a little Ranch Dressing to dip them in. 🙂
I found three more morels after our first hunt, and then we found two broken ones after that. Morels season starts as the first wild flowers start to carpet the ground, and the Redbud Trees and Dogwood start blooming. (I have to add here, that the Dogwoods and Redbuds were prolific all through this area and absolutely gorgeous! I wish I had gotten some better pictures.)
We observed that ‘Morels Season” seems to end once the trees start getting their leaves. Leastwise, we haven’t found any after the trees started leafing, and The Brother has stopped making his regular trips on the four wheeler…a sure sign we might as well not waste our time.
Hope you all are enjoying this beautiful Spring! Thank you for your patience with my hiatus.