Morel mushrooms are one of the most desired wild mushrooms in the world. They are a mystery, a miracle, and a gift of the spring. They are not farmed like most grocery store mushrooms; they can appear overnight deep in the woods and remain maddeningly elusive. Veteran mushroom hunters possessively covet their secret spots, equal to that of any fisherman or deer hunter.
Morel mushrooms remain a mystery to researchers and mushroom hunters alike. Where and why they grow is often the subject of an “old wives tale” or local lore. One thing for certain, there are conditions that cause morels to grow in the spring more than any other time of the year.
When hunting for morels, look for ash, aspen, elm, and oak trees. Early in the spring as the ground is warming, you’ll find them on south-facing slopes in fairly open areas. As the season progresses, go deeper into the woods and hunt on the north-facing slopes. Morels often grow around dead and dying trees. Many mushroom hunters have had luck finding mushrooms near a tree that has reached the stage of decay where the bark is slipping off its trunk. Old apple orchards also make good hunting grounds.
Everyone can agree that morels are delicious, but did you know they are also nutritious? Morels are loaded with all kinds of nourishment. Since morels tend to grow in rich soils, they come packed with many vitamins and minerals. While the nutrition can vary based on the soil they are found in, morels will generally contain significant amount of Iron, Copper, Phosphorus, Zinc, Vitamin D, Folate, Niacin, Riboflavin along with smaller doses of Potassium, Magnesium, Calcium, Selenium, Thiamine, Vitamins E, and B6. Morels are also loaded with antioxidants and are high in protein and fiber.
Many of us have been gifted with a little extra time these days, so why not spend a little of it on a nice walk through the woods to mushroom hunt. You will get some fresh air, exercise, and hopefully a handful or two of deliciousness.
If you do have success, maybe try out this simple and scrumptious morel mushrooms recipe. Enjoy!