It is spring time and that is the time when Morel mushrooms start to grow. Morel Mushrooms are nutrient dense meaning they are low in calories but high in nutrients. They provide many vitamins, minerals, and other micronutrients. They are good sources of copper, iron, and vitamin D. They are higher in fiber which helps to move food through our digestive system.
Morel mushrooms grow around trees; specifically Sycamore, Hickory, Ash, and Elm are trees to learn to identify. Morels grow best when the temperature through the day is around 60 degrees Fahrenheit and hovers around 40 degrees Fahrenheit at night. This time is the best time to start searching for Morel mushrooms. The slopes of hills that receive the longest sunshine will be where Morels start popping up first. Morels also like moist soil that is well drained. This area may be found near creek bottoms. Other areas to look for Morel mushrooms is ground that has been disturbed such as burn sites, logging areas, or areas where flooding has occurred.
It is important to know the difference between Morel mushroom and other mushrooms that may resemble Morel mushrooms because they may be toxic. Morels have wrinkled caps and the bottom of the caps is attached near the bottom of the stem. Avoid the mushrooms that the stem is longer and the cap is smaller. Morel mushrooms will have larger caps and smaller stems.
Once you find your Morel mushrooms, it is important to take them home and soak them for a couple hours to wash out any bugs living inside the crevices. Try sautéing them in oil until brown and then add some butter at the end for added flavor. Lower the heat and add some minced garlic and a splash of soy sauce and lemon juice. Add your favorite greenery herb like parsley or even green onions for some added color. Add salt and pepper to taste and enjoy!
Morel Mushroom Mania is an event at Shawnee Park is starting at 6 p.m., April 28, and ending April 29, at 4 p.m. Julie Albright Powell will be guiding you on how to identify Morel mushrooms and how to find a variety of mushrooms. Go to http://parks.ohiodnr.gov/shawnee for more information on Morel Mushroom Mania.