Saturday, April 2, 2016

Foraging: Morels

Warning: Never, ever eat wild mushrooms until you have had an experienced guide help you positively identify them.  Mushrooms are never to be taken lightly,  they can and will kill you if you do not harvest them correctly, do not cook them correctly, and do not identify them correctly.  While some species are considered "safe" (meaning they have no poisonous ones that are very similar), it is still not safe to consume them until you have had them identified.  

Spring time means a lot of different things to a lot of different people, but here in the outdoor community in Arkansas it means at least one very important thing.  Turkey hunting and Morel Mushrooms.  There are lots of turkey hunters in the spring woods, looking for a big old tom turkey to harvest.  When that turkey doesn't want to cooperate, those same hunters will start to look for morels.  They are considered a delicacy of the mushroom world, and what's more, to my knowledge, they are almost impossible to grow commercially.

Morels are one of the "safe" mushroom species.   There is a poisonous look-a-like, the main difference being that the Morel is completely hollow inside, and yellow or black, while the poisonous ones are usually brown, and are not hollow inside.  Never eat morels raw, morels contain chemicals that are used in jet fuel.  This can be safely cooked out.  

Morels only grow in the spring, and they are here today and gone tomorrow.  There are two species, the yellow black.  The yellow ones seem to grow mainly on deciduous trees, while the black seem to prefer evergreens.   Here in Arkansas, I suggest looking for Elm or Ash trees.   The yellows seem to prefer them.  

I took my son out this morning, we had some serious rain, but I regret to inform you we didn't find any morels.  You will have to use your favorite search to get some pictures of morels, ash and elm trees.  We did get us some wood for making our own primitive bows and arrows, I'm looking forward to working on and writing about this.