Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Morel Season in Full Swing

 It is the highlight of my natural year, those two weeks or so when the morel mushrooms are coming up. Many years ago - in the late 1940's - my grandfather and his buddies hunted in northern Michigan and found great baskets of the mushrooms. In fact my grandmother would prepare them at their cottage and bring them home ready to fry. Between those delicious dinners and photos of their larder, I became interested in hunting them myself.

 But Ohio is not Michigan. And in the 70 years that have passed, I think the climate has not been kind to morels. But still, every year, hope springs eternal and with it at least a few of these wonderful mushrooms, among nature's greatest gifts.

April 26 - this one sprouted last night 

I'm holding the same morel in my hand for scale

 I found this mushroom this morning. We had a warm night (it dipped only to 62°) but recent days have been fairly dry. Even so, the forest floor is damp and that means conditions are perfect.

 The season began strangely enough on April 15 ...

April 15 

The same mushrooms in the shot above

 I found these when I was out in our lawn digging dandelions. I've never found one on our property before (though I have found them in grassy areas nearby). I think that's an odd spot because I treat the lawn in the spring with weeder/fertilizer and in the fall with an insecticide. I'd have thought both would not be to the liking of mushrooms. Of course they're known to grow in poor soil so maybe they care less that we suppose.

 Yesterday, I found these ...

April 25 

 Isn't this a strange one ... bulbous on the top and a beautiful shade of tan-yellow.

 Mushrooms often grow at odd angles due to coming up beneath forest debris. It seems to never stop them ... they just lean to the side and grow skyward just the same. Like all adversity challenged, they gain character.

 A morel's folds and pockets are particularly appealing to me and also serve as a sure-identity. There are "false morels", of course, but I find them rare and easy to spot. A true morel has this distinctive look and it also has an unmistakable scent.

 And now, time for lunch.

Sliced lengthwise after washing 

Dipped in an egg wash, breaded with corn meal, fried in butter and vegetable oil 

Perfectly browned, plated and ready to eat

 A wonderful year. Enough of the big sponge to make a memorable meal for Mom and I. Though there weren't that many, those that I found were delicious.

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