Common Questions About Morels

Newest Questions are at the top!

1. I found morals along a railraod track last year. Growin right out of gravel, have you heard of this? Peachie B

Yes, it may be due to the limestone in the gravel, which has been known to stimulate Morels. Do be careful, as mushrooms retain a lot of the elements they are growing around, and they commonly spray round-up along railroad tracks, and that chemical could be absorbed into the mushrooms. - Chris M

2. A friend gave me a few Morels to try. I used them in my salad and became very ill. Could I be allergic? barb in la

Answer: You should never eat Morels raw! They have to be thoroughly cooked to release any toxins. Most likely you are not allergic, you just ate them raw! -Chris M

3. What is the ideal soil temperature to begin looking for Morels? David from Idaho

Answer: Soil temps are just one of many things to monitor as Spring approaches. Soil temps can  very rapidly overnight. I have found them in 39 degree soil temps, but previously the soil temp had be much higher. I believe that they can start growth at 50-54 degrees. As I mentioned, you need to look for other better signs such as Red Buds in bloom, Trilliums and other wildflowers, Mayapple, Fruit trees budding, and more. -Chris M

4. A friend in Wisconsin gave my daughter a bag of morel mushrooms.  I do not know how to prepare them.  Someone said something about salt water.  Do I need to soak them before cooking? How do I cook them?  I have never heard of this mushroom before.  Anything help you can give me would be great. asparrow

Answer: Wash them and slice in half, soak them briefly (15 minutes) in salt water, rinse again, dip in flour and fry in butter. Fry until golden brown. Lightly salt, and dip in Ranch dressing if desired. This is the quickest, easiest, and most common way to prepare fresh Morels.- Chris M

5. I was wondering do you cut the mushrooms or pull them up. I want to do what is right.  I found a few, and cut them off.

Thank You, Dorothy L. Ormson

Never pull them up.  Think of the mushroom as the fruit like an apple. When you pick an apple, you don't break off a whole limb, just to get the apple. Same thing goes for the mushroom. The "plant" of the mushroom is hidden underground, and pulling them up will damage the plant. Plus, why would you want a bunch of dirt in your bag of mushrooms? Season should still be strong another week or so in your area.- Chris M

Previous Year's Questions:

Q: We've picked blacks there in the same spot for 2 years. The first year we counted about 600, last year about 125 is all. My question is- by picking them each year in the same area, does is diminish the number? Or doesn't that matter at all? In other words, will the number of blacks in the area be less and less if we keep picking them each year in the same spot?

 A: This is an age-old Question. In my best estimation, as long as you don't pluck them out roots and all, and are careful and do not disturb the area much, like sliding down a hillside and tearing into the dirt, then I don't think that it will affect next year's return. But, many of my spots from across the country have not produced as well in the last 4 years as they did earlier, so this could be weather, climate, acid rain, or who knows. 

Question And Answers:

Q: When do the morels expel their spores?

A: Usually after the first few days, they will begin.

Q: Is it when they first come up or after they sit a few days and start drying up? 

A: A few days to 3 weeks depending on weather conditions. 

Q: Is it best not to pick all of them so as to guarantee next years crop? 

A: I always leave a few, especially if they are older ones, not as fresh. 

Q: Do the spores that they put off produce mushrooms the same year or are they next years crop? 

A: Not even next year's crop, maybe a second or 3rd season. This process takes time!  

Q: Also do the morels come up and grow bigger or are they the size they're going to be when they come up. 

A: They grow at least 10 days, and maybe up to 21 days still edible if weather conditions are right. 

Q: Would crumbling a few morels and spreading them around their habitat make a better crop? 

A: This is a good practice, especially to crumble a few in a good looking area that you didn't find any in!

Q: Do deer eat mushrooms? 

A: No, a myth.


Q: Do mushrooms over night? 

A: No, they grow over an extended time of 10-21 days.

Q: Has anybody reported seeing one pop thru the ground? 

A: This does not happen.


Q: What kind of weather do we really need to have a good crop? 

A: A slow rise in temps with plenty of moisture every other day, then rise to 70's during the day and 50's at night. This would be ideal.....The ground temperature needs to reach 54 degrees for them to grow.

 

Here Are Previous Year's Questions And Answers:

 Q: WillyB71 writes: Are there morels in Florida? A: Yes, it is possible, but I have yet to find one. It takes a freezing process for the growth of morels, and here in North Florida, it does get cold, even 12 above this past winter, but it was very dry at the prime time for them to come up. It would take the perfect situation, but I think it is going to happen some day, and I plan to be the one to discover them! Q: Is there any definitive study on the southern range of this fungus?  A: None that I am aware of other than what I am doing on my own. I found them as far south as Macon Georgia this year. No one has ever reported this far south to me.  Q: I would start hunting them again locally if I thought there was half a chance they existed this far south. A: Check my morel reports page for your area, Texas had a great year for morels, you may have picked the wrong year not to go out and hunt! morel and other mushroom finds click this link, then click the archives for earlier in the year, I   received many reports in March.

Q: What is the best way to freeze Morels?

A: There are many methods to do this. The one that I favor is to wash them, dip in flour, fry in butter ready to eat, let cool, then freeze them in zip-locks. Just like you buy onion rings frozen. Then, when ready to eat, place them on a cookie sheet and bake until sizzling. They taste just as terrific as freshly fried!

 

Q: Do Morels grow under Walnut trees?

A: In all of the years I have hunted, I can only recall twice that I ever found any under a Walnut Tree. It was the same year, and very late in the season. One of the Walnut trees was very old, 36" diameter. The other spot was just growing near a Walnut tree. They certainly do not favor them and I believe that it would just be by chance that you find any under a Walnut Tree.

 

Q: Should you gather them in a plastic baggie or something else?

A: Definitely not a plastic baggie. The best thing would be an onion bag, mesh. This lets the mushrooms breathe, and also, lets the spores disperse while you are hunting.

 Got a question? Just ask! Not limited to Morels.

Q: Do Morels grow in Florida?-Jeff from Tampa.

A: I have been on a quest to "see for myself" and have talked with people that has made claims, and personally think that it is likely in certain Northern areas of the state. I, and a few local Mycologists are planning a foray in Feb. of 2000 up into the panhandle area. I will keep you posted.

 

Q: How big can a Morel get?- Carl (8 years old) from near Dayton, Ohio.

A: I have heard reports of people finding them as tall as 18". I suppose that if the weather conditions are just right, plenty of moisture, plenty of sunshine, and the right temperatures, and the soil is rich enough, they can grow that large. I personally have seen one 14" and is posted under photo archives, under M.crassipes. It would be a thrill to find one that large, but for eating purposes, 3-6" ones are perfect!

 

Q: I live in Central Ohio. How late would you say you can find morels here? - Jeni from Columbus, Ohio.

A: Maybe as late as mid-May, possibly until May 20th or so. I have seen seasons in that area end on May 1st, when temps continue above 83 degrees for a few days in a row, that is usually the end. But if you catch a year that just can't seem to warm up, and lots of moisture, they will linger, especially on steep hills, and North facing hills.

Q: Every year we do pretty well finding black Morels (Morchella elata) in the Sierra Nevada (California). One problem I've encountered with drying the Morels is that usually at least some of the dried mushrooms, once in the jar, develop a cob-web by sort of mold all over. I just throw them out, not wanting to gamble. I use an "American Harvest" Dehydrator, and I definitely am drying them to full brittleness, no question completely dry. Of course, I let them cool to room temp. before putting in the large, rubber cap sealed jar that we use. This year in particular I lost quite a few, and was heartbroken. Does anyone know what this is, has encountered it? Am I doing something wrong? (I have great results with other mushrooms) Please HELP!!  Thanks - Richard Radcliffe, San Francisco.

A: Hi Richard. Hope this will help, however it may surprise you. You should try keeping the morels once dried in PAPER bags. A jar will hold in moisture. A fresh morel has a water content of 90%. When dried with a food dehydrator, they will still have a moisture content of about 8-10%. If you insist on jars or plastic bags, then you must put them in the freezer to store them, and use them up when you take them out of the freezer. I have successfully stored dried morels in a paper bag for 3 years without spoiling. This lets the contents breath, and not build up moisture and let mold grow.

Q: Chris, Is it true that some of the black Morels have some of the toxins that cause liver damage? I've been hunting Morels for 3 yrs. in Okla. I read something to the affect in California Morels. We really enjoy Morels, but would like to keep a healthy liver. Terry >>

A: There are toxins in all morels, some people are allergic to them. By cooking, it removes most all of the toxins, but you can still get a bit ill if you eat too many morels for several days in a row. Never eat them raw. There is also a relation of alcohol with the toxins. Do not consume too much alcohol, and eat morels at the same time, may make you sick. Finally, there was a humorous but false claim going around last year, I think originated from the mycology dept. of a University, that said there was a deadly new morel hybrid , specifically the Morchella angusticipes, and has caused several poisonings in California. "Please ship all of your black morel finds to me for laboratory analysis." I hope no one fell for this.

 

shock@sanasys...... writes:

Q: Is it the weather or the time of year that effects the time the morels are found, I live in IL. and we have had unusually warm temperature since before the 1st of March, so my friend and I were wondering if we could find any Morels or if it would still be to early? and if it's to early when would the best time probably be?

A: It is 100 % the weather that brings up the morels. Moisture and temperature. The season begins as early as Jan. in Southern California, and ends at late as October in higher elevations of Oregon, or Montana. So yes, expect them one week earlier this year at least, maybe even earlier. Keep me posted of your results!