Mother’s Day Morel Hunt

Being an "active, outdoorsy" type all my life, I certainly knew as my first Mother’s Day approached in the spring of 1992 that I’d appreciate an outdoor activity to celebrate Mother’s Day with my daughter and husband instead of the traditional "taking mom out to brunch".

My husband thankfully came up with a perfect solution and we began our own tradition by venturing into the woods each year for a "Mother’s Day Morel hunt".

Never heard of a "Morel"? It’s an unusual looking, elusive and tasty mushroom found in the spring all across the United States, in early to mid-May here in Wisconsin. To know exactly when to head into the woods in search of them, we take clues from the woods themselves; we note when the May Apples and wild violets begin to bloom….both a sure sign that morels will start poking their elongated, pale, lobed heads through the moist soil at any time.

Die-hard ‘shroomers will never share their hunting grounds and locations with other morel hunters; morels are difficult to locate and can potentially garner a good price from buyer’s nationwide…if you’re willing to sell them. We prefer to keep what we find and freeze what we don’t eat.

Best morel-hunting tip? Look under dead Elm trees or Apple trees. In the mid-west, best time to search is typically early to mid-May, with Mother’s Day being a perfect time to scan the forest floor. For states further south, morel hunting can begin as early as mid-April. Look for creamy or golden flesh-colored deeply lobed and elongated mushrooms and avoid black or dark-capped morels. There is a poisonous variety known as a "False Morel" which should definitely NOT be eaten.

It’s imperative you do some research before venturing out by yourself. Best advice is to accompany someone with experience hunting morels before going it alone. If you have any doubts…leave it.

My daughter and I have enjoyed years of morel hunting on Mother’s Day. When she was young, there was nothing I enjoyed more than seeing her eyes grow wide and glitter with excitement as she spotted a morel hidden among last year’s fallen leaves and the fresh green undergrowth of spring. We’ve shared wonderful warm spring days, hand in hand, as we combed the ground for ‘shrooms listening to the bird’s cheery spring songs overhead, enjoying each other’s company. She’s older now, but we still carry on our tradition and I still can’t think of a better way to spend my Mother’s Day, than outdoors with the ones I love.

Happy Mother’s Day to All!

Enjoy your time together however you choose to spend it.

Fried Morels:

1. Freshly picked Morels

2. Soak and rinse in tap water

3. Cut in half lengthwise, cut off any "bad" (dry or rotten) parts

4. Par-boil….dip briefly in boiling water to remove any bugs, dirt, etc

5. Drain & pat dry with paper towel

6. Dip in egg-wash

7. Cover in mixture of cornflake crumbs, flour, salt & pepper

8. Heat vegetable oil in large skillet

9. Fry in oil until browned, drain on paper towel,