I’ve been wanting to go hunting for morels for years, but I never had anyone to take me.
I mentioned this to a friend a while back, and she said her mother goes every spring. I got her number, and after a little back-and-forth on scheduling, we’d booked a trip to the woods.
First off, I was expecting to have to go mushroom hunting way out in the middle of nowhere on some farm in eastern Oklahoma. That wasn’t the case at all. In fact, the place we went was about a 10-minute drive from my house. We never even left the city. That’s one of the (few) advantages to OKC’s massive urban sprawl. You’ve still got a number of undeveloped wooded lots scattered around the city.
I was warned in advance to do three things:
1. Wear bug spray. Ticks are rampant in the woods, and you don’t want catch lyme disease. I saw that episode of House. No thanks.
2. Bring a cloth bag to carry your morels in, not paper or plastic. Turns out there are a crazy number of brambles and thorns where morels grow, and only a cloth bag will survive the encounter. It is because of these brambles that…
3. Bring pruning shears. It isn’t just the bag that will get caught in the thorns. You will have to cut yourself loose or risk some fairly painful cuts. Even with the pruning shears, you’re going to get some scratches.
I arrived early in the morning to find my guides already in the woods. In fact, my main guide had already located a couple of morels.
Morels are pretty hard to spot in the wild. They blend in quite well, and I didn’t notice any discernible pattern to where they were located. Nevertheless, I soon picked up the knack of spotting the little buggers.
Here are a few of the ones I found.
It was fairly dry, not ideal conditions for mushrooms. Nevertheless, we were able to find a few. My guides were quite generous, giving me the ones they found as well. In the end, I had enough to make a family meal.
I prepped the morels by first splitting and washing them. I then soaked them for about a half hour in salt water. This drove out any bugs still living inside.
You can find a number of morel recipes online, but I don’t think you can beat fried mushrooms. I treated mine like a chicken-fried steak, with an egg wash and a milk wash before a roll in flour and a final egg wash.
Morels don’t taste like the mushrooms you get at your local grocery. The texture is spongier, and the flavor is much meatier. They reminded me a lot of chicken livers without the blood taste. Since I like chicken livers, that’s a good thing.
The final product was incredibly popular with the entire household. If you get the chance to go hunting for morels with someone experienced, don’t pass it up.