Something Fishy

Something Fishy
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Thursday, April 12, 2012

Morel season ending when it should be starting due to warm spring

Morel mushrooms are great eating. Add steak and salad and you have a great meal.

        It seems most everything is off schedule or ahead of schedule this spring with the warm weather. That includes morel mushrooms, which people have been finding several weeks earlier than usual. It appears we are approaching the end of the hunting season when it just should be starting.
Veteran shroomers (mushroom hunters) were finding the yellow morels in March even before the small black morels normally begin to peak through the leaves of the south side of wooded hills.
Prime morel time normally depends on weather and where you are located. In Southern Indiana, I’ve found morels (rarely) as early as the end of March, but the best picking usually comes about the middle of April.  This year, the peak hunting may be over by mid-month.
In this area, the top picking usually is the last week of April through the first week in May. 
Some morel enthusiasts then head north into Michigan for more picking. Some areas in Michigan are well-know for their fabulous wild mushroom crops.
        Morel mushrooms current sell from $35 to $40 per pound. So even if you don't eat them, hunting can be fun and provide some extra cash.
There are several types of morels and the earliest to appear are called by a variety of names, including “hickory chickens”. They must have at least a dozen other local names.
Deep, heavily wooded areas are the place I usually find the blacks. I normally find the first blacks on the south or southeastern side of hills where the early spring sun strikes first. 
The blacks are  followed (and overlapped) with the long stem variety, then the white morels and the big yellow sponges. There usually is three weeks or so of good morel  hunting.
I strongly recommend that new morel hunters NOT eat any mushroom they aren’t positively sure is safe. The morels are wonderful eating; however, some other types of fungi are poisonous--some very poisonous. There are numerous books and internet websites which identify the edible mushrooms. 
While there are many types of mushrooms; I concentrate on the morels. They are the ones I know best, and I feel confident picking and eating them.
When I return home after a successful mushroom hunt, I cut them lengthwide in two pieces . Rinse off any dirt and bugs, and place them in a bowl of salt water. I let them soak in the salty water overnight to kill any bugs missed in rinsing. There will be some. That’s part of mushroom hunting and eating.
When I’m ready to cook them, I rinse them again. Next I roll them in flour, salt and pepper, and place them in a skillet with about a half inch of hot canola oil. However, I cook up several cut up pieces of bacon in the skillet for flavor, before adding the oil. In my opinion, it enhances the flavor.
I cook them until golden brown, then place them on paper towels to drain prior to serving with the rest of the meal. Unfortunately, I seem to sample so many, it’s tough to cook a serving plate full. Don’t put paper towels on top of the fried morels or place them in layers after cooking. It makes them soggy.

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