Finding the Morel Motherload = the Fourth Best Day of My Life

Last week we found three dried up little grey morels in the backyard, and while they were too small and definitely too dry to enjoy, it put my mushroom fever into high gear.  For anyone who doesn’t know this about me, I love morels.  I love hunting for them, and I love eating them.  This is about the only thing that I will venture into a spider and tick-infested wooded area for, that’s how much I love them.  Here’s what one looks like in case you don’t know:

They’re sorta funny looking, huh?  I could make an inapproPriate reference Here, but I won’t.  I Am trying to keep this bLog friendLy for all individUals. It’S what I do.

So one thing you need to remember if you head out looking for morels, and this is super important…..make sure they are, in fact, morels.  There are some impersonators out there, and these can be dangerous.  So check and double check if you’re not exactly sure what you’re looking for.  And that is the end of my mushroom safety speech.

Back to the important stuff…..yesterday I was wandering in the back yard, thinking of mushrooms (is that weird?), and suddenly, I spotted one.  It was a 3-inch tan just happily growing.  How it managed to survive against two dogs, three kids, and various neighbor kids, I don’t know, but I really try not to question miracles.  Anyway, if the previous week’s disappointing find set my fever into motion, you can imagine what this baby did……let’s just say sh*t got intense.  In 10 minutes I had changed into my mushroom hunting uniform (jeans and t-shirt, pretty official, I know), rounded up my 3 hoodlums, grabbed a bag, and we were on our way.

We arrived at our top secret location…..and don’t ask me where this is, people, because it’s extremely classified.  I am taking this information with me to the grave, and I have sworn the kids to secrecy with a blood oath.  Mushrooms are serious business in these parts. We don’t mess around.

Within 10 minutes, I spotted a cluster of 3 good-sized shrooms.

“Stop!” I screeched.  “No one move!”

The kids froze, paralyzed in fear that I was having some sort of neurotic attack, likely.  So I told them that okay, fine, they could move, but they needed to be extra EXTRA careful, because if they stepped on a morel, I might disown them. 

We all crouched down to get a better look at the surrounding area, and it wasn’t long before I heard, “Found one!” and “Here’s one, Mom!” and “Ooh, here’s another one!” and “AAAAAEEEKKKK!!!!….a bug is on me!”  That last one was me, but that’s not important.  A half hour later, we had this:

Holy God in Heaven.  I realize some people find this amount every time they go out, and some find even more.  But me…..I’ve never found more than about 5 a year, and that’s always been in my own backyard.   The kids and I found 59 in the super-secret locale….FIFTY NINE.  I told the kids it was the best day of my life, to which they replied, “You mean besides when you had us.”   Uh….yeah, of course, guys….being in agonizing, body-wrenching pain for several hours THREE TIMES….yes, those were the best days of my life….just kidding, they really were. 

Naturally, I wanted to eat every one of these immediately.  Morels breaded and fried in pure butter is, hands down, the most delicious, savory, exquisite, toothsome, delectable, heavenly, ambrosial food you can imagine. Regardless of how carried away I sometimes get with adjectives, I am not exaggerating on this.  Here’s what we did to get the shrooms into this state of nirvana:

1. Soak them in plain water for several minutes… several I mean like half an hour.  This will rehydrate the mushrooms and dislodge some of the dirt and bugs and other gross stuff.  And, because it’s just plain water, you can take the mushrooms out and dump the dirty water in a shady spot in your yard in hopes that some of the spores will take and mushrooms will grow there in the future.  I have no idea if this is true, but I’m willing to try it if there’s even a remote possibility that morels will result.

2. Soak the mushrooms again in salt water.  This will draw out any remaining bugs.

3. Slice the ends of the mushrooms….not the whole end, just the dirty part on the bottom.  (Note: When you’re picking mushrooms, try to cut them or break them gently just above the base to avoid pulling out the “root” and large clumps of dirt. Sometimes this is unavoidable, especially if 5 year olds are helping you hunt.  But…try, as I hear it’s better for the mushroom.)  Now slice the mushrooms lengthwise, and give them another good rinse and check for more bugs.  I guarantee you’ll find some, so look carefully unless you like eating fried insects.

4.  Gather up your fryin’ gear.  You will need an egg/milk mixture; a large ziploc containing a mixture of flour, bread crumbs, salt, pepper, and paprika; butter for frying; and a large skillet.  For the breading, this is just what I used.  You can really use whatever you like….some people like flour, salt, and pepper.  Some like crushed saltine crackers and pepper.  Some like to spice it up with chili pepper.  Really, it’s up to you and what you like. 

5.  Take your clean and varmint-free mushrooms and place a handful of them in the egg/milk mixture.  Make sure they’re fully coated with this, then transfer the shrooms to the bag with the breading.  Shake it around to coat them, but be careful.  Violent shaking can lead to damaged mushrooms….it’s called Shaken Shroom Syndrome, and you don’t want this.

6. It’s fry time, baby.  (Where did that come from? I have no idea why I utter these dorky expressions.  Forgive me.)  Melt your butter in the skillet, and get it all nice and bubbly and golden brown….mmmm….golden brown bubbly butter (alliteration alert! I know, I have issues.)  Put your mushrooms in and let them cook for just a couple minutes.  They cook fast, so watch them carefully.  Flip them to the other side for a couple more minutes, and then remove them to drain on paper towels.  OMG, they are ready for consumption.  Are you excited?  Stoked? Is this the moment you’ve been waiting for?  I know, that’s how I get too.

Fried morels can be eaten plain, with ranch, with tzatziki sauce (recipe for this is here), some other salad dressing, chopped up on a salad, as a sandwich…???? (okay, that sounds amazing and I’m gonna try it).  Enjoy!  These guys retail for about $30/lb. and are not easy to find fresh, so if you have them, count yourself lucky.


7 comments so far

  1. livingvanilla on

    Without giving away your secret hiding place. Where are you finding your morels? What state? I am in Indiana and I don’t think they are up yet. Nice find.

    • on

      I’m in Missouri, and they just came up. We’ve had some warm weather and rain, so the conditions were perfect. Good luck hunting!

  2. Tara on

    Ok, so these sound really yummy. I never understood your obsession with mushroom hunting before, but maybe now I do. Haha. Maybe the next time you ask me to go hunting I will shun all other resposibilities and forage with you. I hope the kids had fun searching as well as eating:)

  3. Tracey on

    I was totally shocked at the number or mushrooms you located with thy offspring. I, too, would love to venture into the wilderness and purge the ground of these delicate treats. However, only one thing nagged at my craw….you mentioned bugs numerous times. Really, you have to clean them that many times?

  4. Alan on

    If this was the fourth best day and you have three kids, where does your husband rank?

  5. Alan on

    I used to hunt for mushrooms with a buddy. I miss him, he was a fun guy

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