March through May is the usual time to go hunting for Morel Mushrooms. Do you have them in your area? They do here in Oregon, but the only time I’ve found them and eaten them was in Iowa.
I’d always been concerned when I heard of people hunting mushrooms. How do you tell the difference between the safe and unsafe varieties? Last year on a trip to Iowa I learned how much fun it can be. Morel mushrooms are a lovely treat, unique in appearance and taste.
When you see how different they look, you can see that they are easy to identify too. Still it is wise to have someone knowledgable with you the first time you go. There are similar mushrooms that are dangerous to eat. The mushrooms are often found at the edge of a wooded area, growing around the base of trees and shrubs.
Once a spot is found where they grow, people tend to keep it to themselves. It’s a popular activity in season and they are picked quickly. Since they cost $15 to $20 a pound in the store, you can understand why.
While picking, it’s recommended you carry them in a basket rather than a bag so they don’t get too moist. When you do find them, be sure to leave some stem in the ground so they will return next year. Some people say that is not how they grow, but it can’t hurt to leave the roots.
When we found ours it was late May in Iowa. We weren’t even hunting. Stopping at a park to photograph, we hiked up a gentle hill, and nearly stepped on one. Once one was found it became a mission. Alas, we only found one more. Any others had been picked already, but it was still fun hunting for them. They were added to a plentiful supply that a friend shared with us.
That night we cooked them up for a delicious dinner.
Cooking Morel Mushrooms
The recipe below is simple. What took time was the thorough cleaning. Once they are clean you can store them in the fridge or cook them right away. Morels are popular served with steak, but with this recipe they make a meal themselves! We served them with a salad and found it very filling.
Sauteing them in butter brings out their flavor. They are great sautéed without breading them too. If you don’t have many add them to any dish for a delightful flavor addition.
Serves: 3-4 servings
- 20 mushrooms
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 1 egg
- ¼ cup Water
- Cracker meal or crumbs
- To clean, cut the mushrooms in half, clean carefully.
- Soak in salt water for an hour or more.
- Rinse thoroughly and dry well.
- Blend egg and water until very thin.
- Dip mushroom into the egg mixture, then lightly into cracker crumbs.
- Use more or less cracker crumbs as you like.
- Melt butter in a skillet, then carefully add the mushrooms.
- Cook for 3 to 5 minutes until lightly browned, then turn and repeat.
- Remove from heat onto a plate with a paper towel to absorb oil.
- Then plate and serve.