Sometimes you don't have to go far to find crazy amounts of delicious gourmet mushrooms!
Urban areas can provide perfect habitats for mushrooms of all kinds. One species that is likely to pop up in new areas with wood mulch is the much sought after Morel.
Where Will They Grow?
Morel mushrooms can often be found in new areas, especially if there is wood chip mulch and new landscaping.
Morels fruit in the spring, not long after the snow melts. The fruiting season can extend into early summer depending on where you live.
What Do They Look Like?
Morel mushrooms are really easy to identify, and are a great species for beginners.
There are a few other mushrooms that are considered look-a-likes, but once you've seen a true morel, you are pretty unlikely to mistake it for anything else. There are a number of different species, but they all share similar characteristics.
- Look for a sponge-like mushroom with a deeply "pitted cap" (not "folded")
- Can grow singly, but often grow in clusters
- Can vary in color, from yellow/brown to almost black
If you are still unsure about the identity of your morels, cut it in half.
For a true morel, the inside will be totally hollow, with the cap attaching to the stem on the bottom.
There are two species that people often call "false" morels, although they really don't resemble morels once you get a chance to know them.
Check out this article for a full breakdown of the difference.
1. Verpa bohemica
These mushrooms look similar to morels, except the cap is "folded" instead of "pitted." Another dead giveaway is that the cap is attached to the stem only at the very top of the cap.
2. Gyromitra esculenta
These mushrooms don't really look much like morels, but they are called "false morels" enough that they are worth mentioning. The difference again is that they have "folds" instead of "pits".
Also, if you cut the mushroom in half, you'll see that it isn't hollow and the inside is mixed and not really defined.
Cut or Pull?
Many people say that you should cut the mushrooms instead of pull them out of the ground in order to protect the underlying organism.
Truth is, it doesn't really matter. You can cut or pull them depending on what is more convenient to you.
Personally, I like to cut them, just because it makes it easier to clean the mushrooms before you eat them if there is less dirt on the stem!
You can cook and eat your mushrooms right away, or store them for later.
Morels can be stored through proper freezing, drying, or even canning.
Check out this article for a full breakdown of the best way to store morels.