There’s something about the adventure to discover morel mushrooms that drives individuals to madness.
That’s according to Chris Matherly, a self-described “morel compulsive,” who we spoke with when he was midway through a four-month-long hunt, going after the hard-to-find mushroom from Georgia to Washington State. Matherly left his Kennesaw, Georgia house in late March; he will not return until very early July, at the tail end of the morel growing season.
Due to the fact that they’re evasive, “there’s something about the morel mushroom that simply drives individuals insane,” Matherly explained. “They get addicted.”.
Even among the curious-looking oddballs of the mushroom kingdom, the morel stands out. With its tall, honeycombed cap, it has the appearance of a Martian roe sac. Its unique appearance is both a true blessing and a curse: There’s little chance of confusing a morel with any other mushroom (consisting of a dangerous one), but its shape and coloring blend effortlessly into its forest-floor surroundings, making it hard to spot.
As soon as found, however, the morel is a treat. “The taste of them is just very special, kind of nutty and earthy,” Matherly mused.
Amongst its fans are the crowds who follow Matherly into the woods at each stop along his morel-chasing course. Over the course of his journey, Matherly will host at least 10 directed morel hunts, each with a group of approximately 30 fervid mushroom hunters. Matherly arranges the journeys with his web site, Morel Mushroom Hunting Club, which he started in 1999 and which boasts about 1,500 members. He says he’s reserved solid with the fall. (During the year, Matherly hosts up to 50 foraging trips for other mushrooms and natural herbs.)
Morels can be discovered all over the United States, and each area’s period usually lasts for three or four weeks. The warmer the location, the earlier its morel period starts, Matherly explained. In Georgia, the first morels emerge in late February. By April, morels are beginning to sprout up the East coast, all the method as much as Vermont. In May, they’re in northern Michigan, Oregon, and Washington.
All told, morels can be discovered somewhere in America right through completion of August. If you’re interested in finding a few of your own, do your research and check Matherly’s Mushroom Report, which puts together morel sightings all over the nation. (Right now, Ohioans, you’re in luck!).
Morels usually like to grow in the shady earth near the roots of trees, Matherly said. The type of tree depends on the region: In the flood plains of the Southeast, morels grow under ash trees.
And what specifically is a morel? “The mushroom that we choose is the fruiting body of an organism that grows underground,” he expounded.
“I never get tired of them, and I never ever get tired of hunting them,” Matherly stated wistfully. “By August, I know that’s one of the last morels of the year.
Many morel-enthusiast internet sites (which there are numerous) promise that the only method to appropriately delight in morels is to sautÃ© them in butter, so attempt this easy recipe from Food52, which calls for sautÃ©ing the mushrooms and thyme in butter until tender.
And whether you’re foraging your very own morels or acquiring them at your neighborhood farmer’s market, take care to appreciate the season– morels will be gone before you know it.