Missouri’s recent showers and warm nights could be making mushrooms prized by Missourians grow. A warm spring rain can be just the right thing to get morels to start popping up.
Former Missouri Mycological Society president and author of ‘Missouri’s Wild Mushrooms’ Maxine Stone said with a few more warm days, mushroom hunters should be finding more morels.
“All we’ve needed is a nice sunny warm day because we’ve had all this rain, I’m going to be out tomorrow,” said Stone. “People in the southern part of Missouri are finding them already, so we’re hoping for a good season.”
President of the Mid-Missouri chapter of the Mycological Society Malissa Briggler said it depends on the spring time, but April is usually the ideal time for morel hunting.
“Honestly, I think it’s shaping up to be a pretty typical year,” said Briggler. “Anytime I’ve seen the may apples coming up, usually that’s a good sign that the morels are going to be starting to come up to.”
Stone told Missourinet what a morel should look like.
“A morel is either black, or yellow, or grey, and it has ridges and pits,” said Stone. “When you cut it down from the top to the bottom, it’s totally hollow inside.”
Stone said those who are morel hunting for the first time should go with people who know what the mushroom looks like and one should never eat a wild mushroom without positively identifying it first.
“I think first time around if you’re going to eat a mushroom, I wouldn’t go by a picture,” said Stone. “Either take it someone who knows what they’re doing or take some really good pictures of the mushrooms and send them to someone who knows what they’re doing.”
Briggler said mushroom hunters should look near dying trees.
“Certain species are better than others, but as the roots are decaying, it releases a substance in the soil that allows those mushrooms to grow at a greater quantity,” said Briggler.
Stone said dying elm trees are the best place to find morels.
“Not dead elms and not live elms… around one tree you might find 20 or 40,” said Stone.
Briggler said some avid mushroom hunters keep tabs on secret spots.
“A lot of times they’ll be popping up at the same spot the next year, so you kind of want to guard your area closely, so you don’t let your secret out and you might have somebody beat you to the spot next year,” said Briggler.
Briggler said people do not need a license to hunt morels, but hunters should get permission from landowners and check regulations on public land before collecting mushrooms.
Stone said one should always cook a wild mushroom before eating it. Stone’s favorite way to cook morels is by sautéing them up with onion, cream, and cognac over pasta and bread, but she said some people prefer to fry them.
“Don’t listen to the people who say bread them and fry them,” said Stone. “That’s the old school, they love their breaded and fried morels.”
Find more information about morels on the Department of Conservation’s Discover Nature Notes.