It’s morel mushroom season here in the Ozarks. These fungal delicacies usually start popping up around late March, early April. When spring flowers start blooming it’s time to start looking for morels.
Morels… (Is it MOR-els or mor-ELS’? I don’t know.)…cannot be cultivated. They require mysterious conditions for growth that no one has been able to replicate…the right soil, the right temperature…who knows. I have read that there are certain trees (Ash and White Oak to name a few) they are often found growing underneath, but this is not a hard and fast rule. I have also read that they flourish after forest fires.
They like moist conditions with lots of rotting wood and leaves, but most mushrooms like those conditions. I have read that if you try to buy morels, they cost around $20/pound! You can typically find them in the same spot every year. That is why most people who hunt morels will not reveal their ‘spot’!
Incidentally, don’t worry–I would not play around with foraging for mushrooms. There is only one potentially poisonous imposter of the morel, and it really looks quite different.
I don’t know if the conditions are better this year, if we are looking at just the right time of year, or if our eyes are getting more attuned to seeing them, but we have found a bumper crop of morels this year! We have found enough for me to fry them up twice. Bud found 3-4 yesterday after supper and cooked them up, himself. Our largest haul was about 2 quarts worth.
I learned ‘the best way’ to cook these mushrooms from the head of the family of the expert morel-ers down the road. He is one of those who WILL NOT disclose his ‘morel spots’, though he is quick to brag about how many they have found. He and his sons go out gathering morels and then their whole extended family comes to their house for a ‘morel-fry’ each year. It is he who first told us about the morels, and now, it is a regular part of our Spring.
The Best Way To Cook Morels (Not Paleo, Low Carb or Gluten Free)
First you wash them off, then cut them in half. You can soak them in salt water to kill the critters. We have found tiny bugs and small ants inside of the morels. They are hollow inside, which is another way to identify them.
Beat a couple of eggs and dip the mushrooms in the eggs.
Dredge them in flour, and shake off as much as possible. I think they taste better if the flour is not gobbed on there. I discovered that this year. The mushrooms in this picture below have a little too much flour.
Fry them in butter until golden brown! Nothing else will do. Lots of butter. This is half a stick, but I think I should have used more.
Drain on paper towels and lightly salt them. Serve to salivating hungry people! I had to bark at Bud for stealing them while I was still cooking them. I was afraid there wouldn’t be any left by the time I was finished cooking them!