"Shroom Hunting"

Picture a beautiful, warm, sunny spring day.  It just rained the night before.   Suddenly, something just comes over you and you can hardly control yourself, you feel it in your bones.  Yes, you guessed it; it's time to head for the woods to go "shroom" hunting.  The gold rush has nothing on the people who live around here who get mushroom fever this time of year and go hunting for spring gold. 

There are many different varieties of wild mushrooms but the ones that we always hunt for are the morels.  They are an ivory or light brown color and look like little sponges that poke their heads up through the soil like jewels in the forest.  Since they are about the same color as the dead leaves on the ground they are very well camouflaged so you have to look closely because they are easy to miss.  The reason we hunt for the morels is very simple, we know they aren't poison and we know that they taste good.  There is an old saying, "There are old mushroom hunters, and there are bold mushroom hunters, but there are no old, bold mushroom hunters." 

Veteran mushroom hunters will clue you in on how to look for them and what kind of environment they grow best around but never expect anyone to tell you where they found their mushrooms.  They have already staked their claim and they're not telling anyone.

The height of mushroom season is the last of April and the first part of May.  Warm weather, especially after a rain will bring them out.

Some advice I have been given is to look for May Apples.  They are those little plants that look like a patch of little green umbrellas in the forest.  Mushrooms sometimes grow in the same areas as these plants.  Areas that are very damp and around old stumps or decaying logs are good places to look.  I have been told that dead elm trees are prime areas.  People seem to differ on what side of a slope is best but most tell me the south or the east side of a slope is the best place to look.

Take along a bag to carry your mushrooms (this is called having faith that you will find some).  I have heard it is best to use a mesh bag like onions come in because the open bag allows the spores to be scattered around so there will continue to be mushrooms where you hunt.

You should take along a knife and cut the mushrooms rather than pinching them off because you don't want to disturb the root since it might produce again.

The best reward for mushroom hunting is enjoying your find. 



Pam's Fried Mushrooms

Wash and cut the fresh morel mushrooms into quarters, slicing them lengthwise.

Soak in a large bowl of saltwater to remove and kill any forest critters hiding inside. Soak several hours or a few minutes depending on how long you can stand to wait to eat your mushrooms.

Preheat skillet and use about four tablespoons of butter or enough oil to cover the bottom of the skillet.

Crack about 3 eggs and beat with a fork, adding a little milk.

Crush up a bowl full of saltine crackers.

Dip the mushrooms in the egg batter and roll in the cracker crumbs and fry until brown, turn over once and brown the other side.  Place paper towels on a plate and remove mushrooms from the skillet onto the plate to drain….and enjoy! 

By Pamela Blaine

May, 2003