A Huntin’ for Morels

Every spring in southeast Idaho, around Mother’s Day, if the conditions are favorable, and you know where to look, you can find morel mushrooms. My brother Eric knows about everything there is to know about morels – he’s been picking them for years. If he collects a bumper crop then he sells them on the internet and can make some pretty good money. However, there were hardly any to be found the past two years; it was too warm, or dry, or too cool, or too wet. The conditions have to be just right.

David and I have never hunted for morels, I’m not even sure I’ve tasted morels. All I knew is that in the wild they look like tiny brains that popped out of the earth. They are a prized delicacy, often used in sauces, with a rich complex flavor that compliments many foods.

One morning at the beginning of May, I was talking to Eric on the phone, and he was all fired up on the subject of morels. So far the weather conditions this year looked favorable – and we might find morels this year. So we set a date to go morel hunting – Eric, David and I, on Wednesday, May 14. Luckliy, the weekend before we went, Mother’s Day, it was cool, cloudy and slightly rainy. Prospects looked good!

Now, Eric wouldn’t be too pleased with me if I told you exactly where we went morel hunting, but I can say that the best place to look for them around here is on bottomland (low lying land along a watercourse) near cottonwood trees. We are there now. Hunting.

David hunting for morels

David hunting for morels

Eric gave us strict instructions: You must bring a sharp knife to cut the mushroom and leave the stump (never pull the mushrooms out), and clean the mushroom of any grass or dirt before dropping it in a mesh laundry bag (so they will drop spores as you hunt).

The pickins seemed a little thin, to be honest. Of course, a young lady was coming out of the area with her loot just as we were going in. Early bird gets the worm! I was so anxious to find a mushroom. I got pretty discouraged in my hunt when not finding a one after the first fifteen minutes … Ah! but then …

I did find one! Yes. One.

IMG_7823

Impressive, eh? They look like tiny brains all right.

Then I hear Eric holler from about 50 feet away. He had found some.

IMG_7825

A small colony! You can see they are already beginning to dry out.

Then I found a colony. I learned that when you see one mushroom, look closely at the area all around it – they tend to grow in clusters.

IMG_7840

What a thrill! – makes your heart pound right out of your chest!

We gathered them up.

IMG_7827

IMG_7835

Okay. Walk with me in this video – we’ll go a huntin’ for morels!

Did your heart just jump out of your chest, or what? Later, when I played the video back I realized there were TWO morels there (a smaller one was nestled in the underbrush to the left).

Time to stop now, park your hiney on a stump, and dig the stick-tites out of your mesh bag.

IMG_7845

My bag had gotten all knarled up with about a hundred stick-tites, and as I viciously tore at every single one to get it off, I realized how velcro was invented.

We ended up in an open field of ancient sagebrush. Amidst a buzzing of bees. You can stand there with me in this video and listen (as David continues his hunt). Turn your sound way up –

A little later we passed the hives

IMG_7848

We also collected some fresh asparagus. We only found maybe 3/4 pound between the three of us, which David and I took home. Mmmmmm … Steamed fresh asparagus! Another prized delicacy! We graciously offered it to Megan and Glen (Megan’s boyfirend) for dinner. The conversation went like this:

Me: “Have some fresh asparagus!”

Glen: “Never heard of it.”

David: “Wha…? How could you not have heard of asparagus? It grows wild along the canal banks here in Idaho!”

Glen: “Nope. Never heard of it.”

I shared this conversation with our older son, Aaron. He replied, “I don’t blame him. I didn’t willingly eat asparagus for close to 20 years after you guys forced it on me when I was about 7.”

Sheezh! What’s so intimidating about fresh asparagus?

IMG_7822

This is the only live colony we happened upon. Anywhere it wasn’t sheltered, the delicate, tender stalks were killed off by the light freeze we experienced two nights before.

Well, the light is waning now and it’s time to head toward the car.

IMG_7868

Oh thrill! “POUND! Boom-boom…” Someone actually dropped a precious morel, adding to our spoils!

IMG_7865

Which look like this:

IMG_7862

IMG_7863

Eric was going to dry the mushrooms.

8:45 PM. Driving into a beautiful sunset toward home now.

IMG_7869

With images of succulent morel colonies prancing in my head.

IMG_7866

Now we can hone our French cooking skills.

Oh, and try to convince Aaron that that bit about us forcing fresh asparagus on him at age 7 to where he wouldn’t willingly eat asparagus for the next 20 years, is a false memory.

Tags: ,

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


%d bloggers like this: