Updated: Mar 9, 2021
I have to say that these are not my own photos, because I have not been lucky enough to find the elusive, valuable and delicious Morel Mushroom (Morchella Esculenta)
. This prized edible is a mycorrhizal fungus co-existing with the roots of Elm or Apple trees, most commonly. This prized wild edible is sought after by many enthusiasts who gear up each early spring and go to their time-honored spots to search and collect this year's bounty. Based on the mycology forum of Reddit, most people find Morels from March-May. Some people are lucky enough to find them while mowing their lawn or sprouting up in Grandmother's garden.
Know the Lookalike: False Morel
When searching for Morels, it is important to note a few points: There is a lookalike that is commonly misidentified called Gyromitra Esculenta or False Morel. This deadly toxic mushroom resembles a brain and chambered and is colored brown to yellow brown. If you cut the False Morel in half it will reveal many chambers along the folds of the "brain".
True Morel Mushrooms
In order to properly identify Morel Mushrooms (Morchella Esculenta), look for the pits on the cap of the mushroom. These pits have clear edges and resemble a honeycomb. There are a few species that you can find when you are Morel hunting, a black morel, a yellow morel, and a half free morel. All of these species have the honeycomb pits, although their caps are either attached to or half free from the stem. The best sign to identify that you have a true Morel mushroom is to cut it right down the center and you will find a hollow center with one clear chamber.
There have been stories of people with sensitivities who have had a reaction to Morel mushrooms and the blackm Morel should be consumed with caution. If the toxicity has not been eliminated due to cooking, consuming alcohol together with morels could exacerbate the toxic effects, if not prepared properly. It is advisable to thoroughly cook Morel mushrooms and not to eat them raw (as you should not do even with store bought button mushrooms). If you happen upon a big haul of Morels, it is best not to eat them day after day until you have spent your supply, rather share with family and friends with a good recipe recommendation, as eating Morels consistently days on end is also known to cause an unknown neurological disorder. (https://www.fungimag.com/fall-2015-articles/LR%20Morcella24_25.pdf)
If you are brave enough to enjoy the decadent pleasure of Morel mushrooms and you have the luck to find them growing together with the roots of Elm trees, apple orchards, Tuliptrees, beech trees or oak trees, then I wish you Bon Apetit and to share your experience of the elusive Morel Mushroom. Wish me luck finding my first! Any Morel hunting stories? Want to share a photo? Get in touch!