Every person is unique, but there are times in life, at least for me, when it becomes particularly apparent that my life just isn’t like everyone else’s. Every time I try to explain morel mushrooms to people who haven’t heard of them turns out to be one of those times. Hunting and eating morel mushrooms is something that most people I knew growing up did. It wasn’t until college that I realized that this wasn’t a mainstream thing. Each conversation goes something like this:
Me: “My parents found some mushrooms last weekend, I wish I could make it home to eat some this time of year.”
Friend: “Mushrooms? What are you talking about?”
Me: “Morel mushrooms. They’re so good.”
After getting no response, or furthur questions, I elaborate.
Me: “They’re these spongy looking mushrooms that grow in the woods. You find them in the spring after it’s rained and the ground has warmed up.”
Friend: blank stare or “and you eat them? How do you know they’re safe?”
Me: “If you know they’re morels, they’re safe. You rinse them and soak them in salt water to kill the bugs and then you bread them and fry them.”
Usually by the time I get to “kill the bugs” they’ve decided this seems like a bad idea, and I realize my life isn’t normal because I still think it’s a great idea.
I hadn’t eaten any of these mushrooms in probably 10 years or so. Finding the time to go hunting is often a challenge, and you can purchase them, but I can’t begin to bring myself to pay $40/lb for something I can find in the woods. Morels are pretty unique because despite their popularity, no one has been able to successfully grow them in a farm setting. It’s still completely up to mother nature to produce them, and it requires a lot of luck but very little know-how to find them. This year, the first day I saw pictures of friends’ finding them on Facebook, I made the effort. The first hunt was unsuccessful, but the next morning we checked another area and found about a dozen small grey morels.
A dozen isn’t many, but it’s enough for a side dish for two people, so I was satisfied. I took them home, rinsed them, sliced them in half an let them soak for a couple of days in a bowl of salt water in the fridge.
If you’re trying them out for the first time, or typically use a different preparation, here’s a tutorial of my family’s time-tested everyone-approved method:
What You’ll Need:
Oil or Shortening
This one is about as easy as it gets. Let’s go with 5 steps…
Step 1: Rinse the mushrooms and set them on a paper towel.
Step 2: Coat them in flour while heating oil or shortening in a skillet.
Step 3: Fry them on medium heat until golden brown. I like them a little crispy.
Step 4: Place fried mushrooms on a paper towel to absorb oil and lightly salt.
Step 5: Enjoy!! (warning: they will be hot immediately after being fried)
Eating food you find in the woods may be a little unconventional, but for us, this treat is well worth going against the grain.