With its thick, somewhat crooked stem and a cone-shaped top that resembles the crinkled nooks of a walnut shell, a morel mushroom is an unusual find in the woods. It is also a highly sought after delicacy among even those who would not consider themselves connoisseurs of mushrooms. They have a robust nutty, almost smoky flavor that can be eaten raw, sautéed, or grilled. They are an excellent addition to soup, stew, and sauces, as well as pasta or rice dishes. Morels can also be dried or frozen for later use.
Beginner Tips for Foraging Morels
Growing to about 4 inches in height and 2 inches around, this sought-after fungi thrives in damp earth after a warm spring shower. That being said, they are notoriously hard to find, even by the best mushroom hunters. They can pop up just about anywhere the soil and air conditions suit their needs.
- Morel Colors: Gray, Black, Yellow
- Common Locations: Around decaying or dead trees and bark, in mulch, old orchards
- Growing Season: Typically spring, as the weather warms and after a period of rain. Depending on your geographic location, this can be late February to late June.
Morels Have a Poisonous Twin (a few, actually!)
There are many “false morels” in the wild. To pick and eat the wrong one can be fatal as many of these imposter morels are poisonous. A true morel will be completely hollow inside. A false morel will have spongy-textured insides. Be sure to slice open the mushroom before you prepare it for eating.
To learn more about hunting, harvesting, and eating morel mushrooms, it is recommended that you forage for mushrooms with an experienced guide who can help you safely identify mushrooms. You can find such a guide by attending a mushroom festival or attending a foraging club meeting in your area.
Neuharth, S. “What Is a False Morel Mushroom?” Accessed July 5, 2022. https://www.themeateater.com/cook/foraging/what-is-a-false-morel-mushroom
The Spruce Eats. “What are Morel Mushrooms?” Accessed July 5, 2022. https://www.thespruceeats.com/all-about-morel-mushrooms-2216719
Outdoor Life. “12 Tips for Finding More Morel Mushrooms This Spring,” March 22, 2021. https://www.outdoorlife.com/articles/survival/2016/04/12-tips-finding-more-morel-mushrooms-spring/
Morel Mushrooms Hunting (Beginner Tips). Accessed July 5, 2022. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cddkj8JgISg