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April 28, 2015 -  Morels!

News Flash - It''s Morel time!!   

That’s s right, it’s getting that time of year again when Morel Mushroom hunting season is upon us.  So this is your reminder to get ready and get out there if you are in the Central Minnesota area.  If you don’t get out there and get them someone else most likely will.  It’s as simple as that. 

The days of ample supply seems long gone unless you have some hidden land that is private vs the demand for people finding these little Springtime natural delicacies. This celebrated Spring event is a pretty short season and you can kind of tell when it arrives by the trees and shrubs.  They are in the early stages of leafing out and the Lilacs about ready to bloom.  Where we are located we are  just about ready to enter prime season and it is about the perfect time to be in the woods to find these honeycomb fungus delicacies.  Other places south of here are past prime time and the vegetation makes it difficult to really find them.  Plus there are all the other issues of running into poison ivy, neddles, and the creepy crawlers.  

When growing up in Southwest Iowa along the Missouri River, we would take several trips stomping around the woods with my family in search of morels.  Some of my earliest memories were with my Grandmothers, Aunts, Uncles, of course my parents and their friends as well as my brothers and all of our friends who wanted to venture off to get lost in the forest for a half a day or more.  Now, when you are young, you usually don’t realize like most kids, how cool this activity was until later on in life, when finding time is not so easy to come by or you are still trying to figure out the lay of the land up here in Central Minnesota.  My Dad made it seem so easy.  Then, again, he had been stomping around the woods with my Mom hunting in the same spots that produced grocery bags full of these almost every year.  In fact, I used to get so tired of eating them after a while, because we found so many.

Now, I treasure every trip that we have made and this is the first year my folks are kind of hanging it up due to their age.  So thanks Mom and Dad, for giving us something so special in life.

Here is Minnesota, mushroom hunting is about the same activity and in fact Morels grow through out most of the lower 48 if the right terrain and micro-climate exists.  They are really amazing.

Ideally, Morel Mushrooms really like to “pop” or sprout when the temperatures start getting into the mid-70’s it seems after a good soaking rain.  It’s the smell of warmth and the residual moisture left in the air that is my trigger.  We used to find them mixed in with the elm decay and fern stands.  However, there have been many times where we found them out in the wide open in wild broam grass on the river bottoms, or in arounc jack-in-the-pulpit stands along the hillsides,  to even a rocky shoreline northeast of Ely.  Many folks will find them when they least expect it when they are walking to pick up antler sheds, or out turkey hunting or just slowly driving along the road when they might spot one.  The key is being out there in the woods.

Since Morchella Mushrooms propagate by sending a hairlike mycelium underground.   They also need to get fertilized by blowing spores above ground.  So if you are out there stomping around and picking up a few of these honeycomb gems, please use a breathable mesh bag so the spores can drop as you walk rather than using a plastic grocery store type bag. It will keep your honey patch producing for several years with that simple trick.  That is also why you find patches of mushrooms.  

One thing we will be doing in the future is to see if we can grow some in grow boxes in the future right here at Bahrsteads.  There are many plans out there and like everything else we do and this should be another interesting experiment.  So stay posted to that in the future.

One other consideration from a timing standpoint, it seems that there are two seasons for morels.  Early and late spring days.  We used to start on the river bottoms in the early spring time and then move up into the hills off the valley floors as the second season.  The thought is that river valleys tend to warm up faster due to the thaw and more open exposure than the hills.  And in the hills, you will have the south facing slops and the north.  Each side will produce at different times.  All the terrains offer different challenges and rewards as you stomp around.  The most important part of mushroom hunting is finding them, but for me is taking pause, get quiet and listen to the sounds and sights of nature.  It’s truly amazing.

If you are lucky enough to bring home a dozen or so Morels, it''''s worthwhile trip.  All you have to do is clean them, split them in half, and prepare these fungus delights in a little egg whisk, dredged with flour, salt and peppered and then sautéed in a well buttered frying pan until a buttery golden brown.  It’s a great meal on its own with a nice glass of wine with your feet up after a long day of hiking.

If you'''''''''re interested in growing your own, there are some links on to the right to different types of mushrooms.  We've tried it and it's very easy for this particular style. (see below)  We want to see if we can grow and master the morel.