Morel, a fungi that beats the gourmet scale of mushrooms on Beaver Island as anywhere else in the land of gourmands, does grow here in Beaver Island’s Nature Wilderness .
Morel mushrooms are prized ingredients of chefs all over the world due to its meaty flavor and are particularly tasty with eggs and cheese. This scrumptious delicacy on a farmer’s market can set you back $200 a pound these days, yet are easy to spot on a trip into the woods once you find the right location.
The best time to find these tastemakers is after a spring or autumn shower or two followed by a couple of sunny days raising the moisture in the air to a fungus like atmosphere. Pine woods are especially favorite breeding grounds and think of it as a fun day out with the family scavenging through the woods in search of this yellow gold.
Here are some tips that may help you find them.
- They like the temperature to be just right. Keep an eye on the temperature outside as morel season rolls in.
Morels like it when it starts to get around 60 degrees and above during the day, and night temperatures hover around 40 degrees.
Also, get yourself a soil thermometer and check the temperature of the soil where you hunt. Morels start popping up when the earth gets between 45 and 50 degrees.
- The slope of a hill
The side of a hill that gets more sun will, of course, get warmer before the other side. That’s where morels will start showing up first. Check the south-facing slopes early in the season.
- Know the trees they like
Morels can be tree huggers. Learn to identify the trees (with and without their leaves) that morels like to hang around and you’ll be more successful. Elm, ash, poplar and apple trees are well-known morel mushroom favorites. Look for dead and dying trees, too.
- The importance of the right soil
Morels like loamy soil. Loamy soil is what you might find in creek bottoms. It’s well-drained, moist but not wet. It has a good mix of clay, sand, decaying matter, calcium and or lime. I’ve found morels growing in gravel and under pine trees.
- Disturbed ground is good ground
Burn sites and logging areas are often prime morel locations. such as wooded areas that have been torn up by large equipment or logging operations. Morels like areas that have also been disturbed by flooding.
- A warm wet kiss of rain
A warm spring rain can be just the right medicine for getting morels to show themselves. If the temperatures are right (see No. 1 above) and you get a nice rain, mark the following day on the calendar as “morel hunting” day.
- Beware of ticks. You may not find morels every time you hit the woods, but you can probably bet on a tick or few finding you. Lyme disease is not something to take lightly. Dress appropriately, use a tick repellent and be sure to give yourself a once-over when you get home.
But then the best part comes when returning to the kitchen and under telltale stories of snakes and other ‘creepy’ encounters with coyotes, squirrels, turkeys and deer the preparations of a very tasty meal.
We got a great recipe for you here if you are an egg, asparagus and cheese lover. The Morel mushroom will create a feast many will not forget for a long time to come and hope that soon autumn or spring comes around to do the hunt all over again.
What do you need:
1 tablespoon of butter (no oil or margarine please)
1/2 pound fresh Morel, cleaned and halved**
1 small shallot, minced
1/2 pound asparagus sliced or diced
12 large eggs, cracked and beaten
1 table spoon fresh tarragon, chopped but not to fine
1 cup petit Basque or Gouda cheese (Emmental works well if both others aren’t available) grated. Try Appenzell cheese if you love something spicier.
Salt and pepper to taste
What do you do:
• Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
• Heat a 10 inch deep non stick skillet over moderate heat and add butter and Morel mushrooms and Sauté for approximately 5 min. or just until the Morels start to brown slightly. Add the shallot and asparagus and Sauté 2 more minutes.
• Mix eggs, tarragon, salt and pepper together and add to the mushroom mixture.
• Sprinkle the cheese on top and bake in oven until eggs are set and cooked through, approximately 15-20 min.
• Slice into wedges and serve with a real French baguette, salted butter and a fine Elzasser Gewürztraminer or a fruity Pinot Grigio
**To clean the Morel mushroom soak in ample cold water for 30 min. up to one hour. If necessary rinse, and lay out on a clean dish towel and let dry for 30 min. before cooking.
How about booking a spring trip to Beaver Island to hunt for Morel Mushrooms.