Morel mushrooms are delicious but hard to find this year
Spring is in the air and early season fruits and vegetables are being harvested. This is also the start of mushroom season.
You can buy local mushrooms at farmers markets or forage for them yourself with proper training.
One of the most popular mushroom species is the morel mushroom.
They are sought after because of their fabulous flavor and most often grow in areas near rivers and creeks as they like moist environments.
Locally, our season is occurring right now, but the mushrooms are hard to come by in the wild and for professionals.
Morels are very weather dependent, and the season only lasts about three weeks, making them rare.
"Morel mushrooms require light. They require moisture, and they require chill hours. So, they only fruit in a certain window of temperature range. They also need moisture, but they don't want to drown," explained Angel Miller of 2 Angels Mushroom Farm.
The preferred daytime temperatures are between 60 and 70 degrees with nighttime lows around the mid-40s.
According to Miller, this year's crop is low due to the excessive rain in February and early March which flooded many of their natural habitats.
Therefore, few people have them, but lots of people want them.
"The flavor is absolutely extraordinary. It's hard to describe, but it's very earthy. You can't compare it to anything. It is just one of those things you have to experience. You can't describe," Miller said.
Purchasing morels from a farmers’ market is the safest bet, but they are expensive.
You can also forage for them. People have reported finding morels in Cleveland, South Pittsburg, and Delano this season.
Miller warns if you search for mushrooms yourself, you need to be careful.
"We have deadly species in our area. You need to first make sure that you learn the deadly mushrooms and the poisonous mushrooms. You could be hospitalized or worse. It is very important to study and educate yourself," warned Miller.
She recommends being connected with an experienced mushroom hunter. Seeing the mushroom in person is better than a picture alone.
"When you open up a morel, the inside is going to be totally hollow. If you see white, cottony stuff on the inside that is not a morel. The key to identifying them correctly is study and learn," Miller stated.
If it is not hollow on the inside, you should not eat it.
The brief morel mushroom season is coming to an end. 2 Angels Mushroom Farm has checked their normal morel spots, but they don't have any.
Miller says don't be discouraged as the next two seasonal mushroom varieties are great. Chicken of the woods mushrooms have a meaty taste and texture, and chanterelle mushrooms are sweet and savory.