CLAY COUNTY, WV (WOWK) – Every spring season in the Tri-State, molly moochers – or morel mushrooms – begin to pop up.
They are elusive and grown in the wild, ready to help you make decadent dinners.
They have a very distinctive appearance, with a honeycomb look on their caps – and are very high in both vitamin and mineral content – a prize among its searchers.
Folks will tell you different ways of finding the finicky fungi – by looking near poplar, oak and ash trees, among others. Maybe looking for dead or dying trees, or checking out banks near creek beds. Checking the southern side of a mountain early in the month and the northern side toward the end.
Tips for Finding Morels
- Train your eyes – It’s always hardest to find that first mushroom – then your eyes get adjusted to finding them! Be patient and give your eyes a chance to find the first couple.
- Types of trees/lay of the land – There are a few types of trees that morels tend to hang pop up near, including poplar, hickory, oak, ash and elm trees. They also pop up on the edges of fields, in apple orchards and on creek banks where the soil is moist, as well as dead trees.
- Changing season – Check the southern side of the mountains first (this is where the ground blooms first, followed by the northern (cooler side of the mountain) later in the season. The ground needs a chance to warm up to allow our edible mushroom friends to flourish.
- Pattern mushrooms – Once you get a season or two under your belt – pattern them out! Though the day in which they begin popping up will change a little each year depending on whether it’s warmer or colder, they will pop up generally in the same order of spots first as a result of where the ground warms. For example, if you find mushrooms very early in the season near a field, chances are that will be the first place to look next season.
But the best advice I can give – be patient and train your eyes to spot these gems of the forest. Where there is one, there are usually many.
As with any harvesting in our region, take time to properly identify any mushroom you aim to gather. Thankfully, morels are pretty easy to spot, but watch out for ‘false morels’ – morel lookalikes – as they can cause serious side effects.
Once you gather your morels, I like to put them in a salt water bath to help clean them, and then you’re ready to cook them!
Preparing Morel Mushrooms
- Put them in a bowl in the refrigerator with a wet paper towel over top of them. Put a new paper towel on them every day or two. They last about five days in the fridge, so don’t hoard them!
- A few hours before cooking, put the morels in a bowl with half water and half salt. This will enable any remaining bugs to head out, as well as helps prepare the morels for cooking.
I like to put them on burgers but there is a multitude of ways to consume them and reap their healthy and tasty benefits:
Morel Mushroom Recipes
- Sauteed Morel Mushrooms
- Morel Chicken and Dumplings
- Simple Fried Morel Mushrooms
- Pasta with Morel Mushrooms in a Delicate Cream Sauce
- Morel Mushrooms, Spinach, and Eggs
- Pork Chops in Morel Mushroom Sauce
- The Classic Morel Mushroom Sauce
- Roasted Asparagus and Morel Mushrooms