The Magic of Morels Makes a Spring Appearance
By Victoria Tillinghast
Morel hunting season is in full swing! These easy to identify and greatly sought-after mushrooms begin to pop up as the weather gets warmer. Morels are one of the most coveted mushrooms among enthusiasts for their out-of-this-world taste. With a little salt, pepper and butter, sauteing these beauties delivers a magical steak-like flavor.
While morel hunting is another one of those springtime hunts that require very little gear, there is some essential information you should know before you go. While morels make a great mushroom for a beginner due to their unique shape and qualities, consuming wild mushrooms can lead to fatal results. The best way to be safe is to never consume any wild mushroom unless you are absolutely sure you have correctly identified the strain.
The GreatMorel.com also suggests avoiding, “any and all mushrooms that are parasol shaped with little white gills, all little brown mushrooms and all false morels.”
So, what is a false morel? False morels are mushrooms that look similar in shape to morels and go by scientific names such as Gyromitra esculenta, Verpa, Helvella and Disaotis. Thankfully, there are specific differences between false morels and morels that help the identification process.
According to the Great Morel, false morels are redder in color with their tops being more brain-like in the folds. Most importantly false morels have dense spongy cores, while all true morels will be hollow. If visual identification isn’t cutting it, then it’s time to cut the mushroom. Slicing down the middle of a morel will reveal the hollow stem and cap, helping to better positively identify your find.
Shootingtime.com weighs in on where to look for morels.
“Look for hilly areas, rocky areas and flat areas with a moderate amount of undergrowth,“ they write. Morels love damp soil, moderate temperatures and decay. So, during a stretch of warm spring weather after a few days of rainfall at the base of a dying tree is a good start to possibly finding a morel.
Also important to mushroom hunting is using a mesh bag or wicker basket to carry your harvest through the woods. It’s not for aesthetics though. Carrying mushrooms in these containers allows for the mushrooms to release spores through the fibers as you walk helping to ensure more great mushroom hunting seasons in the future.