View Full Version : Hunting & Preparing Morel Mushrooms?

05-12-2013, 02:04 AM
Anyone here have any experience with this stuff?

Even though I was raised as an Army brat and played in the woods a lot in addition to being in the Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts till high school, I was always more of a Big City guy...so I'm pretty much a n00b in this field. But my family owns a farm with about a hundred acres of woods in the middle of it and it's colloquially known to the locals as The Wet Acres, since it occupies the low-lying land of the county. So when I heard some of my more Country Mouse pals were all out looking everywhere for morel mushrooms recently I invited a couple to go inspect my family's woods with me to see what we could find. Didn't really expect much, though. I'm usually bored out of my mind at my family's place so I just figured it'd be a good chance to get some buddies to come hang out and drink in the woods, really.

I had no idea I was basically sitting on a fucking treasure trove goldmine of the goddamned things!

My pals were all freaking out the whole time and excitedly trying to convey to me that there are mushroom-hunters who spend their whole lives looking for the kind of numbers and quality we were finding out there. I was just glad to have the company and figured they'd go to waste anyway, so whatever. We all just pooled our finds together at the end of the day and divided them evenly so we all got a fair deal out of it. But now I'm starting to feel bad about my haul because I didn't really know what I was doing with them and wound up wasting a bunch.

I've since done some research and dug around online a little bit, and it looks like one of the best and easiest ways to preserve/prepare them is to rinse and clean them with cold saltwater and then batter, bread, and season them. They'll apparently last for years like that in a freezer and then taste just as fresh as the day they were picked when you finally get around to frying them.

But that kind of sucks for all the same reasons breading and frying anything sucks. Plus, it's just deep-fried whatever...it barely even registers as tasting like a mushroom at that point.

And purists say to just sauté them in butter. But, again, that just basically makes them taste like butter and I'm not trying to have a coronary over the things, ffs. I still haven't tried using olive oil instead, but I'd imagine it's probably a lot better in those respects. We'll see.

Anyway, they grow for about two weeks a year and we're about halfway through that timeframe now. The older ones we're just finding now are practically rotting in the ground and crumble away when we try to pick them, so we've started going back over the ground we've already covered and there's a BUNCH of super-fresh and firm morels popping up there again, so I figure we've got about another week of finding good stuff before we're done for the year.

It's basically a race against time. And all the deer and other wildlife that seem to be munching on them while we're not looking, of course. I guess this probably isn't the best place to look for help, but I wondered if anyone here might be able to pass along some tips for finding them, preserving them, and preparing them to eat.

There's a LOT of conflicting data online so hopefully someone can share some good firsthand experience here.

I read a lot about looking by fallen trees, but so far I'm having much better luck near standing elm trees, actually. Not sure why, but that seems to be where they're the hugest and most plentiful. Well, out in the open, anyway. Looking in the tall grass and weeds and under the thicker, thornier rose bushes has served me well, too...which makes lots of sense. And I've already covered most of what I've done with cooking them so far.

But I'm sure there's still TONS more left out there and I have a shitload I've already picked that I'm still trying to figure out the best ways to preserve and eat, so any help would be greatly appreciated.

For that matter, I'm curious if anyone knows someplace good to sell some. I've heard of restaurants and grocery stores and taverns buying them for anywhere from 20 to 70 bucks a pound, and since my friends and I already have more than we can handle I definitely wouldn't mind making a couple bucks on the leftovers. I could certainly think of less enjoyable ways to pay down my credit card and finance my Manson and NIN roadtrips!

So there it is.

Any ideas?

In the meantime, I have a couple pix my pal took. These are all from our first day and each pic is just 1/3rd of our haul from ONE day. It's pretty ridiculous out there, lol...we've been at it for a week now and we find at least this much each day. Collectively, the three of us have found almost a hundred pounds altogether in the last week, and that's just on one plot of land and only looking for about two or three hours a day. And there's still sooooo much more land there that we haven't covered yet, so I'm just trying to make the most of it while I can.

Doing pretty well for a n00b so far, though!








Cat Mom
05-12-2013, 08:44 AM
Wow that's really cool. My grandparents owned 160 acres of wooded land and we were too creeped out by its sheer density so we never ventured in very far.

I found this: Morel: Truffles for the middle class (http://www.tamaraduker.com/2009/05/morel-mushrooms-truffles-for-the-middle-class/)

How about drying them? (http://www.tamaraduker.com/2009/05/morel-mushrooms-truffles-for-the-middle-class/)

Cat Mom
05-12-2013, 12:35 PM
the PHOTOS WHOA HOLY SHIT! THOSE ARE HUGE MUSHROOMS! You guys should've opened a quick roadside stand and sold those things, jesus christ!

05-13-2013, 05:57 PM
strange, Ive never heard of these mushrooms before and after reading this thread I find this growing in the walkway to my apartment of all places, but how can I tell if its the real thing?


06-26-2013, 05:18 PM
i am in ontario, canada and a friend and i were out looking for them a few weeks ago. apparently they are off to a late season this year.
what a haul.
you could always send photos and offer to sell them to restaurants. some of the high priced 'high class' places will pay big money for them.
damn, boy. a forager's dream pay load that is.

05-04-2014, 02:20 PM
Thanks for the great feedback, everyone! Sorry to post-and-dash in here last year, but I was in a pretty serious time-crunch so I was just trying to disseminate and solicit pertinent information as quickly as possible and didn't really have the time to follow-up much before hitting the road for the bulk of the past year since then.

As luck would have it, the relationship I was in completely crashed-and-burned in late-March so at least I was able to head back home in time to catch the start of the morel season. So YAY for me, lol. I was so wrapped up in stupid drama with my (ex-) gf and trying desperately to salvage our relationship that I hadn't even thought about mushroom season beforehand except to idly speculate how gutted my pals would be when I told them I wouldn't be around and we wouldn't be able to hunt through my family's woodland this year, but it turns out I needn't have worried. When I Greyhounded back from Florida in early-April, I at least had the ONE bright spot on the horizon of returning to the woods for some AMAZING hauls again. Even as early as the start of April I could hear fellow Greyhound travelers discussing their morel mushroom finds while I was suffering a layover in Nashville and apparently following the warmth of Spring northward bound JUST in time to catch the start of the season here in Illinois.

Or when it would've NORMALLY started, that is. Climate change and a late Spring and all that. Just a couple days ago I was still foraging around in a t-shirt under longjohns under a sweater under a hoodie and under a jacket so it was still pretty fucking cold for May, which has obviously delayed things getting underway in terms of mushroom-sprouting. But after about two weeks of wondering if they'd even sprout at all this year I finally started seeing them pop up this past week. About time!

However, it's been a frustrating start so far for OTHER reasons, too.

My dad's out-of-town this month so I've pretty much got free reign over the woods and the cabin we've been building in them the past several years...or rather I SHOULD. Apparently, my dad's been letting some of his 60-something country buddies from the area hunt turkey out there since he's been busy and gone so much he hadn't even been able to hunt deer out there this last year.

So I've had a bit more competition than usual out on my family's "private" land.


The pals of my dad who I keep running into out there have spent the tail-end of Turkey Season swiping the early-starter morels out from under me, and the fact that no one's bagged any deer or turkey out there this year has meant that there are more morels being eaten by the wildlife than would typically be the case.

Oh, and apparently we've had some straight-up mushroom-poachers out there, too. Ugh.

So, instead of just letting the morels grow to their gigantic, natural full-size out there like they did LAST year, I've basically had to go out there every day and take what I can get before they disappear. Still finding pounds and pounds of them, mind you. They're just not quite as impressive as I'd hoped yet.

But it was a late start this year and the days are getting warmer...as long as we get some decent rain out there in the next week or two I'm hoping we'll start seeing them get bigger and bigger.

Which would be GREAT. I desperately need the money. I found a chef to buy some last year and they're in for 20 bucks a pound of as many pounds as I can find, but that seems a little low to me so I've got a new customer who's a cook for a bar and who's offering 30 bucks a pound in the immediate area.

So for a rank amateur n00b I've got a pretty decent foothold on the market already, I guess!

Anyway, I just wanted to necrobump this thread to remind everyone to keep an eye out outside and to drop a quick update in here. I still have a lot of mushroom scouting and harvesting and cleaning and weighing and storing to get around to today so I'll catch up with everyone's replies from last year later on after I get some work done today.

In the meantime, here's a couple more pix.

Like I said, I haven't been able to score quite like LAST year yet, but I've found a bunch of the smaller guys already, at least. My two pals and I have only been going at it for a couple days so far, but even with all the competition from 60-year-olds and local wildlife we've STILL already found about 20 pounds that look like this...


https://scontent-a-ord.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ash3/t1.0-9/10314728_10152304364915660_4562406692985251376_n.j pg

So overall I'm still pretty happy and excited to see what pops up this year.

It's time to make some fucking money!


05-07-2014, 07:57 PM
ZOMFG, it's SO ridiculous here!

Sure, they aren't GIGANTIC like last year's harvest, but they're still EVERYWHERE.

It hasn't rained in almost two weeks (and mushrooms obviously need as much rain as possible), but I'm still absolutely RAKING them in. Except, y'know...without a rake and by hand.


05-07-2014, 07:59 PM
First thing I thought of when I looked at those mushrooms was "braaaiiinnnsss..."

05-07-2014, 08:03 PM
Wow that's really cool. My grandparents owned 160 acres of wooded land and we were too creeped out by its sheer density so we never ventured in very far.

I love atmospheres like that. Take me there.

05-24-2014, 12:01 AM
https://fbcdn-sphotos-b-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-ash4/t1.0-9/10308332_10152327060490660_966265801267941498_n.jp g

So that was the final day's haul of the season.

Not as overwhelmingly awesome as last year but, again, considering the circumstances I'm more than happy! Sold most of what I found and made almost a grand, so no real complaints here. It's like getting paid REAL money to just kinda hang out with pals and stumble around the woods drinking, so I AM LOVING IT.

Another fun part of the mushroom hunting is chasing the occasional deer when we happen to cross paths. It's good to keep them away from the mushroom patches, plus they're just beautiful so I like to give them a good spook now and then so they learn to be more wary of letting humans get too close to them...otherwise my dad or his pals will TOTALLY blow 'em away when deer season rolls around. And, honestly, it's just a damned good and HILARIOUSLY fun workout! Every once in a while I hear a rustling in the nearby foliage and realize there's a deer RIGHT there. They generally bolt right away but if I can spot them soon enough I'll just take off at full speed after them and have a little fun in an obstacle course footrace with them, lol. It's pretty comical, they're definitely not used to that.

But I almost got some pretty serious payback for fucking with my various woodland companions recently!

I was just walking alone and unarmed through the thickest part of the woods looking for that last haul of morels before the end of the season, and then I heard something BIG a couple feet away. I got ready to go on another run with a deer, but when I spotted it and it rose to its full height over the bushes I realized I was face-to-face with a goddamned MOUNTAIN LION instead.



Man, that was mildly terrifying, to say the least. I wasn't sober, but I IMMEDIATELY became so. This fucking thing was HUGE, it probably had about 50 lbs. of pure muscle on me. So I just kinda froze and tried to play it cool while I scanned around and looked for a decent branch to use as a club or a big rock or ANYTHING I could defend myself with but didn't see shit. But then again, I didn't exactly want to look away too much either, it could've been on me in about a second flat. So I stood there and waited to see what it was going to do and we just kind of shared a moment while it sized me up before running off, THANK FUCK.

'Cause I was totally fucked otherwise, lol.

Anyway, I got online and looked around and found out there have actually been a bunch of sightings all over Illinois, and I went back out with a camera hoping to spot it again but no dice. Been looking for paw print tracks to document it as an official sighting but again still no luck. Kinda neat, though. I'd heard of them being spotted around the area before but I'd been out there countless times over the years and never spotted one so I didn't think much of it. I spoke with some guy from the Dept. of Wildlife or whatever and he said they're mostly cool so I reassured him that as long as it behaves itself it's more than welcome to stay, but it seems like it was probably just passing through. The ones they've verified in the area seem mostly to be displaced from the Dakotas so they apparently cover QUITE a bit of distance in their time.

Nonetheless, it was definitely CRAZY to be standing alone only 10 or 15 feet from one of those bad boys out in the wild like that! Soooo lucky I wasn't near its den or already starting to chase it before I realized my mistake or whatever. If it had been aggressive or moved even ONE INCH towards me I probably would've had a heart attack, ffs.

But I'm actually kinda hoping he turns back up. With all those bastard pals of my dad and the deer and whoever else poaching my mushrooms it might be nice to have some extra security out there, lol.


05-24-2014, 12:51 AM
Thread tl;dr.... do you these get you high or what? Or are they just for eating?

05-24-2014, 02:30 PM
Thread tl;dr.... do you these get you high or what? Or are they just for eating?

they're for eating. he sells them to restaurants.