Two weeks away from the technical start of summer and the mountains are just beginning to sport their spring green. But what a lovely spring green it is – so brief and yet dazzling like little jewels under the intense spotlight of the high sun. After reading about all manner of “indicators” for black morels in the mountains, I’ve come to the conclusion that it basically means “when spring arrives and things start growing”. Makes sense. I’m seeing tiny pink calypso orchids, pasque flowers (still!), aspen leaves, oregon grape in bloom, false morels (toxic) and on and on and on. It’s wonderful in part because it isn’t terribly hot yet, which means foraging is more bearable when I’m crawling through forest debris. Come chanterelle and porcini seasons, I get a little cranky when the mercury rises.
refreshingly green and blue
pretty little things
a prize find
Back here on the Front Range, the morels in my area are taking their time. I’ve found a few early bolters, but that’s about it. I’ll probably miss the start of the proper flush, but I’m sharing my trail observations with my shroom buddy, Erin, because I want to know how the areas progress while I’m in Crested Butte and because I want her to get some black morels! Meanwhile, Neva is getting lots of running and playtime not associated with foraging morels. She makes it infinitely harder to concentrate on finding mushrooms and then when we do find them, she (like most dogs) will invariably and unwittingly step on at least a couple of them. I think we’re all quite happy to see the progression into spring because we know that summer will arrive like the flick of a switch. Good things happen in the mountains when the days are warm.
neva, orange tennis ball, and a big field of dandelions
sleeping (on the couch) with her tongue out
jeremy admires the view at sunset
I brought about half of my morel haul home to Nederland for recipe testing. The rest of the morels were either consumed in Crested Butte or given to devoted mushroom foragers who had never tasted black morels before. Oddly enough, when I was passing through my local Costco down on the flats, I found black morels for $8 per half pound. That is quite a good deal. I picked up two boxes out of curiosity and to supplement my supply for a morel recipe testing fest over the weekend. The store-bought morels were picked wild in the Pacific Northwest and they had good flavor, but they also came with plenty of small worms who apparently also appreciate the flavor of morels. I hate mushroom worms. Thankfully, my own foraged black morels were worm free and really clean. I used the small ones for this classic recipe of fried morels. Also, I made a half recipe (the recipe below is the full recipe) to conserve my limited supply of morels.
flour, black pepper, salt, garlic powder, onion powder, milk, egg, morels
There is a wide swath of this country that insists the only way to eat morels is fried. I think morels can be enjoyed in a variety of preparations, but I’m not going to turn my nose up at a fried morel! So I went in search of a good recipe. When it comes to wild mushrooms, I find that Hank Shaw’s blog, Hunter Angler Gardener Cook, is a great resource for solid information and reliable recipes.
i leave the small ones whole
you can see they are hollow inside
a large morel gets the chop chop
hollow inside – this is how you know it’s a morel and not a toxic look alike
**Jump for more butter**