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Hunting for Mushrooms in Morel Season


B Edulis
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Just a heads up (or heads down, in this case) that morel season is almost here! I just can't wait to get out under those ancient apple trees and find a basketful. I've posted about mushroom hunting before in the cooking area but didn't get much interest. I'm really surprised because it's such a terrifically fun hobby and yields such bounty, but maybe here in the "Adventures" area folks are more, mmmmm, adventurous. Really, most mushroom hunters don't even talk about it, being a secretive bunch.

But I am a fool, and a generous one  :wink: . So I'm telling you -- get out there!  If you can tell an orange from a grapefruit, you'll find true morels easy to identify once you get yourself an Audubon Guide. Or I'll come and check them out for you (for a small cut of the swag!).

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Squirrel's ear? I thought it was mouse ears. There is a morel species in Australia, it is found growing under certain types of eucalyptus trees in the South east. Looks and tastes very much like the Europeon version. During a camping trip I once picked half a garbage bag full. We ate so many morels on the trip that people were complaining that they just wanted plain mushrooms. Can't please everybody I guess.

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Wait a minute -- I said "get out there" not "come with me!"  :raz:

Seriously, tho', I'm going on a morel foray with the New York Mycological Society at a secret location that only members know about. It's the only walk all year that is "members only." So you'll have to go find your own old apple orchards! They especially like soil with some lime -- they can sometimes be found in old graveyards as well. And they like dead ash trees.

But, H and R, I'd be delighted if you'd join me for some other foray later in the season -- perhaps chanterelles in August or black trumpets or porcini? If it's a wet summer, there'll be blewits and other edibles, as well.

Here's a snap of my pal, Pearl, a few of the morels from last spring, and a few "dryad's saddle" shelf mushrooms. We tempuraed the morels and made a stock from the dryad's saddle, in which we cooked skate.

Morels512.jpg

And, a teaser for late summer: below is a shot of some black trumpets we found in one afternoon in Bear Mountain, about five pounds! This was shot just before we took off our clothes and rolled in them :wink:  

BlackTrumpetsBearMtn3.jpg

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Ok, how much for the morels? I swear... I don't want to hurt Spot and Blanche.... but how can I leave you with all the morels????? What's it gonna take? How much trout do you want, woman??? :biggrin:

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was moving some brush the other day and found some morels about two-three days  before perfect.  went out today and they were ripe for the picking.  a little brush-up, a saute in some butter/olive oil and over some fresh pasta with a sprinkle of truffle oil - heaven!!!!

Nothing is better than frying in lard.

Nothing.  Do not quote me on this.

 

Linda Ellerbee

Take Big Bites

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Well, surely we can have some sort of eGullet Morel Foray - or other hiking trip. It occurred to me when I first read the subject line that fiddleheads are just about out: or maybe they're early this year becauise it's been so warm.

I'm hopeless as a coordinator - so don't ask me - but I'd be willing to help with the planning. So when do we go?

(Alternately, fiddleheads can be found at a few stands at Union Square. Liza, what does Davy say about the fiddleheads this year?)

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I think the fiddleheads are expected today! BTW, and sort of totally off/on topic, but the thunderstorms yesterday wrecked havoc at Union Square - farmer's tents were torn, and tables went airborne. Amazingly no one was hurt. Sorry! Back to morels.

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Out in the NW, we're also gearing up for morel season.  This is our first year in the mushroom club, and I think it's 2-3 weeks until morels (I hope my back injury heals by then, as I don't want to miss out).  In the meantime, we've been looking under local cottonwood trees (cottonwood 'mouse ears' are the tell tale sign for beginners like us) to find Verpa mushrooms.  I'm afraid to eat them, as supposedly they don't agree with some people, but Mr. H & others enjoy them immensely.  Are you finding any Verpas?  Out here, the general location I think the group looks for morels is in areas that received forest fire last year.  Do you find that to be the case as well?  One sure way to get mushrooms is to join a mushroom club (Mycological Society), like B Edulis and us.  It's not expensive, and includes outings and experts to help you identify.  They also offer classes.

I've never had fiddleheads, but they sound so intriguing.  What do they taste like?

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I've never found (or looked for) verpas. Gary Lincoff in the Audubon guide suggests caution: "it can cause lack of muscular coordination in susceptible individuals if consumed in large quantities or over several days." David Aurora in Mushrooms Demystified sez the same. (Tommy, if you're listening, this is not a reason to do so!) I'd be wary about trying them, but if they smelled really good, I'd try a small amount at first.

Suzilightning -- congratulations on finding the first of the year! I'm jealous!

Here's a link to the New York Mycological Society. The group was founded 40 years ago by the musician John Cage. It's only $15 a year to be a member. It's too late to join in time for the morel walk, which is the first weekend of May, but there are lots of other great activities planned this season...

And, as I mentioned before, if you'd like to join us for one of the other walks, message me, and I'll arrange it.....

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Thanks, and exactly why I personally didn't eat the Verpa, although some in the club do (in small quantity, ie. 1 mushroom, boiled as per suggested, sliced, then sauteed).  I took a small taste in my mouth and it was indeed delicious, but being the scaredy pants I am, I didn't swallow...but the flavor pleasantly lingered in my mouth.

Still curious about the fiddlehead, though, and wonder what it tastes like.  I like the name, too.

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Still curious about the fiddlehead, though, and wonder what it tastes like.  I like the name, too.

The fiddlehead is the tightly-packed young frond of the ostrich fern, and to my palate the thing it most closely resembles is pea pods, once it's cooked. I also learned the hard way that you have to blanch them even before sautéing - or however you prepare them - or you're bound to get horrible gas pains. Live and learn.

I don't know if the farmers are out in force today - I'm hearing some rumblings in the sky and that may have kept some of them away today - but as soon as my hair dries I'm going out to check on the fiddleheads and other provisions at the park.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Nonny, nonny nonny! Kevin and Pearl and I picked almost three pounds of morels on Saturday near Suffern, NY. A bonanza! We made a three course all-morel dinner. I'm in Cape Codd now, but when I get back to NYC I'll post pix and descriptions.

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First, here's the catch of the day -- 2.75 lbs. of morels and thimblecaps (a related species, never seen them for sale), handsful of gorgeous wild watercress, and wild scallions, plus Pearl, Kevin and me - forgive the gloating expressions:

Morels3-5-2.jpg

The appetizer: The largest morels filled with morel and thimblecap mousse served with roasted asparagus.

Morels2-5-2.jpg

The main course: blackfish with morel and rochambeau onion rondels and Elizabeth Schneider's morel and tiny yellow potato casserole with walnut oil. Because the casserole was covered, not a bit of the morel flavor was lost.

Of course, watercress salad, with toasted pecans and a vinegrette with black fig vinegar.

It was very, very good!

Morels1-5-2.jpg

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B Edulis, just loverly. Thanks for the photos. :biggrin:

"I've caught you Richardson, stuffing spit-backs in your vile maw. 'Let tomorrow's omelets go empty,' is that your fucking attitude?" -E. B. Farnum

"Behold, I teach you the ubermunch. The ubermunch is the meaning of the earth. Let your will say: the ubermunch shall be the meaning of the earth!" -Fritzy N.

"It's okay to like celery more than yogurt, but it's not okay to think that batter is yogurt."

Serving fine and fresh gratuitous comments since Oct 5 2001, 09:53 PM

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Thanks for the chance to show off!

I checked with the NY Mycological Society and it's fine if interested non-members join a walk or foray. There's something like a $5 donation to the club that's asked. So I'll post a notice when the walks are coming up.

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My mother and I are planning on going to the walk in the South Mountain Reservation (NJ) on Sunday, July 14th. What kind of mushrooms should we expect to find there then? I've left a phone message for the walk leader, I'll post the additional details after getting the info from him.

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Just a heads up (or heads down, in this case) that morel season is almost here! I just can't wait to get out under those ancient apple trees and find a basketful.

I live near Rhinebeck, where there are many apple trees.  Is that the best place to find these gems, or would the generic "woods" be worth a search?

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Wow, I can't believe how big your morels are B edulis.  Thanks for posting your photos.  Good luck Rachel & jaybee on your mushrooming.  Mr. H picked me some various wild mushrooms over the weekend, including 1/2 lb. of morels.   So I had my first experience cooking morels.  My favorite preparation by far was the Dungeness Crab Stuffed Morels.  Infact, I think it is maybe the best thing I have ever eaten in my entire life.  I prepared them by sauteeing them in butter first, then filling the halves with a mixture of Dungeness Crab, parmesan cheese, chives, mayo, egg yolk, S&P, and finished off in the oven...inspired from a recipe from foodtv.com.  My next favorite preparation was simply dusted in flour, S & P, and sauteed in butter until almost crisp.  The flavor of the morel really shines with the simplicity of this preparation.  My least favorite preparation was the delicious Gruyere, Shallots & Morel Omelet I made.  The other ingredients overpowered the flavor of the morel, I think, at least in my opinion.  I made another cheese omelet the next day using wild Oyster Mushrooms, and that was a much better fit.  I still have a few morels left, and will try something new tomorrow.

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Jaybee, morels like to grow under old apple trees and dying elms, with not too many conifers around and limey soil. They have a symbiotic relationship with the roots of elms and apples and it's species specific, so I'm told.

Rachel, there are lots of mushrooms out in July, at least if we don't have a dry summer again. The easiest to identify are oyster mushrooms, black trumpets, puffballs, and chicken mushrooms. You'll notice that none of these are the standard gilled mushroom shape. That's because the 4 deadly mushrooms that grow here in the northeast are all of the central stalk, gilled type. (There are others of different types that will only make you sick.) So you need to be more careful with these. But of the gilled mushrooms there are different types of agaricus (button and portobella are agaricus), there are the lactarius (milky) mushrooms. The one gilled mushroom I'd say a beginner could identify is the shaggy mane, also in the agaricales family. The porcini types (boletes) appear later in the summer.

So, if there's been rain, you're going to see a lot of fungus, some of it the fun kind. The important thing is to get yourself an authoritative guide (Audubon is good) which will be enough to id the easy ones I mentioned above. If you're serious get yourself a couple more guides as back ups. When I was learning (before I joined the Society), our house rules before we ate a mushroom previously unidentified were: 1) must id it in three reference books 2) that there were no poisonous look-alikes 3) that we cook and eat one teaspoon and wait twenty-four hours. You also need to keep some of the mushroom uncooked in case something happens and you need to re-id it. Sometimes we fought to be the one who tried it. And sometimes we bent a rule or two if it seemed safe.

So, take a basket and a knife and some small brown or wax paper bags for individual specimens. You need the base of the mushroom to id it, but for food purposes, it's better to cut it off to keep them cleaner in the basket. You're not hurting the fungus itself, by the way, you're just picking the fruitbodies.

My god, Blue Heron, that sounds good! Crab and morels, mmmmmmmm. In the midwest they always deep-fry their morels and they really are good that way, tho' perhaps with a lighter, tempura-like batter. Very nutty! Re: your omelet, cheese and mushrooms are a difficult combo, I think. The cheese is usually too strong. Cream, however, is another matter. But lucky you, having a mushroom-hunting mate!

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DEEP-FRIED MORELS!

:biggrin:  :biggrin:  :biggrin:

"I've caught you Richardson, stuffing spit-backs in your vile maw. 'Let tomorrow's omelets go empty,' is that your fucking attitude?" -E. B. Farnum

"Behold, I teach you the ubermunch. The ubermunch is the meaning of the earth. Let your will say: the ubermunch shall be the meaning of the earth!" -Fritzy N.

"It's okay to like celery more than yogurt, but it's not okay to think that batter is yogurt."

Serving fine and fresh gratuitous comments since Oct 5 2001, 09:53 PM

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