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Spring Means Morels, But What Are They?

Morels are a staple of spring. Learn more about this sought-after fungus and how to avoid their dangerous imposters.

Morels are a type of wild mushroom that grow in spring. They are a popular and sought-after wild food, and many people hunt them to eat or sell. Their scientific name is Morchella, but they are known by a number of colloquial names, too, including dryland fish, hickory chickens, merkels (miracles), and molly moochers.

What Do Morels Look Like?

fresh morel mushrooms on the counter

They feature a distinctive net- or honeycomb-patterned cap and come in three color varieties: gray, yellow, and black. They grow in the moist ground throughout the United States and Canada, where they tend to bloom between mid-April and mid-June.

Nutrition Profile of Morels

Rich in vitamin D and several B vitamins, including folate, niacin, pantothenic acid, riboflavin, and thiamine, morels also provide potassium, phosphorus, calcium, magnesium, and iron.

Going Morel Hunting? Read This First!

fresh picked Michigan morel mushrooms in a blue wire basket on moss forest floor

If you plan to pick your own, be sure to take an experienced hunter along with you. As with any type of mushroom, it’s possible to accidentally pick poisonous varieties. Several so-called “false morels” exist (see image below) and can confuse novice pickers. Most false varieties feature a wrinkled, brain-like cap, instead of the characteristic honeycomb pattern of a true morel. It is vital to practice 100% identification. Be sure to bring along a mushroom guide containing large, clear, full-color photos.

“False” Morels—DO NOT EAT:

Gyromitra esculenta - Mushroom
False morels

Here’s an additional source to identify “false” morels and lookalikes.

Important tip: When collecting morels, use a flat box, basket, or mesh bag such as an onion bag. Do not use plastic bags as the morels will begin to spoil before you get them home. The spores need to fall to the ground which produces mushrooms for the next year.

Morel Recipes

Here are a few recipes to help you enjoy these delicious springtime fungi. If it’s not morel season, you can make these with any type of mushroom:

Fried Morels

Ingredients:

Fried Morels

Course Snack
Cuisine American

Ingredients
  

  • 1 pound morel mushrooms
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1 sleeve of saltine crackers, finely crushedSalt and pepper to taste.

Instructions
 

  • Directions:
    Carefully clean morels with a damp paper towel and cut them in half, lengthwise. In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Beat the eggs and milk together, coat the morels in the mixture, and toss them in the cracker crumbs. Place the morels in the heated oil and cook on both sides until golden brown. Remove the morels and drain them on a paper towel. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Keyword how to cook morels in air fryer, pan fried morels
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Morels in Wine Sauce

Morels in Wine Sauce

Course Snack
Cuisine American

Ingredients
  

  • 1 pound morel mushrooms
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 2 scallions, chopped
  • 1/2 cup white wine Salt to taste

Instructions
 

  • Directions:
    Carefully clean morels with a damp paper towel and cut them in half, lengthwise. In a large skillet, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the morels and scallions and cook until the morels are slightly browned. Use a slotted spoon to remove the morels and scallions. Place them on a plate and set them aside. Add white wine and salt to the remaining butter and boil the liquid until it thickens into a syrup. Add the morels and scallions back into the skillet toss the mixture together until coated.
Keyword morel mushroom recipes, morel red wine sauce
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Scrambled Eggs with Morels

Scrambled Eggs with Morels

Course Breakfast
Cuisine American

Ingredients
  

  • 1/2 pound morel mushrooms
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 3 scallions, chopped
  • 1/2 dozen eggs, beaten

Instructions
 

  • Directions:
    Carefully clean morels with a damp paper towel and cut them in half, lengthwise. In a large skillet, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the morels and scallions and cook until the morels are slightly browned. While the morels are cooking, beat the eggs and the milk together. Pour the egg mixture over the browned morels and scallions. Scramble together until the eggs are fully cooked.
Keyword cheesy scrambled eggs, morel mushroom omelette
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Morels and Asparagus

Morels and Asparagus

Course Breakfast
Cuisine American

Ingredients
  

  • 1/2 pound fresh morels
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 bunches asparagus
  • 1 shallot, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced

Instructions
 

  • Directions:
    Carefully clean morels with a damp paper towel and cut them in half, lengthwise. Cut the asparagus into 1” pieces. In a large skillet, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the morels, shallots, garlic, and asparagus. Cook until the morels have browned and the asparagus is tender, about 10 minutes.
Keyword morel mushroom recipes, roasted asparagus and morels
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Jaime McLeod is a longtime journalist who has written for a wide variety of newspapers, magazines, and websites, including MTV.com. She enjoys the outdoors, growing and eating organic food, and is interested in all aspects of natural wellness.

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PWilson

We pick Morels every year. You can coat them in flour and shrink wrap them to put in your freezer. They are great in any recipe which calls for mushrooms. They are great when making your own mushroom soup or fried on a pan on the stove after dipping in egg/milk and dredged in flour.

Brenda Foley Bruch

I’m thinking I found a motel I. My perennial garden! I live in Upstate NY (near Syracuse) zone 5b
I posted it to the group, in hopes of help in identification.
Any idea I’d this is truly an edible morel?

Leanne

Just a friendly note to all those hunting this spring. This is for your safety. You don’t have to see a house to be trespassing. Stopping on the side of the road to walk thru the woods is trespassing. Someone owns that property. Just like hunting for anything else, please ask the property owner for permission to be on the property. You can be accidentally mistaken for an animal and seriously injured or worse. Hunt for morels in parks and other areas open to the public.

Teresa Weaver

I live in Appy Mtns of E. TN and we use a cornmeal and flour mix (2 pts cornmeal to 1 pt floud) salt and pepper, fry gently in an iron skillet with melted unsalted butter, and good eats! The flour keeps the cornmeal from popping. They cook very quickly so don’t leave unattended. We call them simply “land fish”.

Nick young

my email is [email protected] contact me if you are interested in morels

Nick young

i have a few tons of morel mushrooms and i am in China. Can I sold abroad

Bahadır

Hi. I am 30 years old and live in Turkey. Turkey in Konya too.Every year we are hunting them. This is name “lamb belly”

post

To Arkansas , all over the river valley

Mary Wright

Do they grow in Colorado? Where and when?

janis shouse

we called them dry land fish, my grandmother would roll them in season flour and fry them , i remember they were so good,,

Jeff stone

I love going to Ohio every spring and finding shrooms. Great excercise too.

Jeremy howard

Near poplar and elm trees in bottoms with sandy loamy soil…

Kathy

A lot of people make the mistake of eating false Morels with no concequences….at first. False morels contain a toxin called Gyromitrin that builds in your system over time. It mighty not be the first time you eat them or even the second or third time but it is a deadly toxin that WILL kill you sooner or later. “Beef steaks” contain the same toxin.
Morels are easy to identify once you know the 3 telltale signs. 1.) honeycomb pattern indicates true while the false is more of a scrunchy brain like look. 2.) the cap of a true Morel is closed while a false morel is open 3.) the stem and top of a true morel will be hollow while the false morel will be solid or contain a cottony substance. Take the time to closely check each shroom…happy hunting!!!!

Kathy

I live in a wooded area in the south burbs of Chicago. Last year we picked 7 lbs between 4 of us. It was the tail end of the season. False Morels are solid stems. Real Morels are hollow. I know a guy here that said even if you eat a false one it won’t make you sick but I’m not going to test the theory. Here they like to grow around elm trees but the elms are non existent. I find them around fallen trees and in the moraines. Always use a mesh bag to spread the spores. They are easy to walk past so it’s good to crouch down and have a look from ground level. Happy hunting!

Jake Buter

I’m 32 and live in Oklahoma. I’ve been hunting mushrooms for as long as I can remember. My sister and I learned to drive when we were 9 and 10 years old by driving my dad dirt roads looking for mushrooms. I think of him more at this time of year since he passed in 2008. His was considered the mushroom king in our family. I now take my kids to the same places my dad took us.

Lori Edgell McKinney

I grew up the same way as you and your sister. My dad could find them just driving slowly down dirt roads. Those are my favorite memories with Dad. He passed away in 2012 and I sure wish I had paid more attention to his “honey holes” for morels.

Tammy Boyne

used to go hunting with my daddy in Davenport, Ia – – now live in NW Ark – – would love to find some!!! Any one know where I can???

Norma

im 50 raised Illinois had a woids acroos street where i grew up used to always go mushroom hunting. mim would fry our findings up. Yummo! Live in South now havent been hunting and missn it.

James

Growing up I used to love morels. About age 22 I developed a full blown allergy to them. One year after eating them I because mildly nauseous and then the next year I ate them and had a very violent episode of nausea. The rest of the family were fine…I miss the hunt and morel feast!

Anna McElwee

I am the same way I was 8ish that year we had gobs of mushrooms. Got nauseous. Now even the smell of them cooking turns me green. Thank you for posting my dad always thought I made it up now I can show him I’m not the only one.

Bobby Renner

I live in Kentucky and we found them by the bag’s full a few years ago. Should be coming up this week here. Been to cold until now..

Lynne

20 years ago I found an abundance of morels but, then so did a lot of other people…….these people never learned the right way to pick morels so that there could be future pickings……..use a netted bag to carry them in and swing it lightly while carrying it so the spores can fly and spread elsewhere to reproduce, do not use plastic bags for picking. Learnt this from some serious pickers. They grow in a lot of wooded areas and where tops of ridges. They love to grow in orchards under apple trees but, if the orchard is being used, I would be leary of picking there as a lot of orchards still use chemicals to spray their trees and I would be afraid the morels would be soaking up these chemicals.

Traci

I live in Denver and was wondering if morels are popular anywhere in co? I wasnt aure if its too cold now or even too dry in the spring/summer for them to grow!? Thanks!

Monica Zumbrunn

I live in Alberta, Canada, but I have land in British Columbia. I go out there every spring in hopes of arriving at the right time. The last two years I was a bit late and the morels were past prime and ‘wormy’. Maybe this year!! Thanks for the recipes. I hope to enjoy them soon.

Darlene

When I was a kid, we found them on the farm in Ohio … My favorite mushroom of all … They were the best!! Haven’t seen them again since I moved to Florida … But have told many about them!!

tim

All you people who soak em are not getting the true flavor. Just a quick rinse, coat em in flour, salt, and pepper, then fry em up. You’ll never know you ate a couple tiny bugs.

Deb Newell

As with any mushroom you have to soak it over night in salt water thereby getting ALL the worms out…otherwise you’ll alittle more protein. We find our morels in the woods/forest just as the snow line is melting and in the burn area’s along with calf brains and calf ears both good eating…..

Nancy

Has anyone ever found any on the Eastern Shore of Maryland?

Marian

We’ve found morels in grassy areas,in the woods and in fields.We soak them in salt water to get the bugs out and use them in our spaghetti sauce,they are wonderful.Some people have told us they find them where there were old burns,but we never found any in burn areas.

jameskingsbury

My inlaws have a thirty acre apple orchard. One very wet spring a few years ago we harvested about 5 bushels of morels. The seem to grow under the trees where there was no or little grass, bare ground. they seem to do even better in the earth that was scratched up by the wild turkeys and the free range chickens. We still have some dried in the freezer and use them frequently. Oh ya, they also seem to like the sand, lossened not packed hard like shaggy manes do. Happy hunting.

Michael

One of the best places to look for them is under apple and plum tree’s

Jamie Frederick

I live in Pennsylvania. Haven’t found any yet. But the nights have been cold.

Mary

We look by elm trees and sometimes where the woods and pine trees meet.

Mary

We love to morel hunt! What a great taste and a treat. We think they have a nutty flavor. We soak ours to get the bugs out of them before we just fry them in butter.

Dianne L. Barnett

I live in Georgia, where are the best places to try hunting for fresh “wild-growing” morels?

Jaime McLeod

Dianne, I have no idea! Your best bet would be to find a message board for morel hunters and see where other folks in your area have had luck. Of course, people are often reluctant to give up their secret spots. Here’s one place you can start: http://www.morels.com/boards/

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