The Essential Guide to Morel Mushrooms

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Morels are colloquially known as the greatest mushrooms in the world, and there’s a good reason for that. You don’t get to become the state mushroom of Minnesota without being something special.

As more people discover the joys of foraging for edible wild mushrooms, the reputation of the morel as a prime find has only grown. 

With that in mind, we’ve put together this essential guide to morel mushrooms: how to hunt them, how to sell them, and how to buy them (so you don’t miss out on the opportunity to try different varieties). Plus, some of our favorite morel recipes.

Hunting morel mushrooms

The first thing to know when it comes to hunting out your own morels is that there are multiple different species. 

While it’s probably not that helpful to get bogged down in the correct Latin names, we have put together a brief guide to the general different types and their identifying characteristics.

Grey morels

Picture of a grey morel in the woods.Grey morels, also known as common morels, have an irregular crown of ridges and pits that helps to differentiate them from the honeycomb structure of the yellow morel. 

The stem is uneven and has distinct ridges that run vertically. The stem widens out towards the base into a distinctive ‘elephant’s foot.’ The interior is hollow and the thin white flesh gives off a pleasant smell which can be intensified by drying.

Grey morels can often be found around dead and dying elms, in aspen groves, or in areas with alkaline soils.

 

Blonde or yellow morels

A common blonde or yellow morel.Larger than its black or grey cousins, the blond morel, also known as the yellow morel, has a honeycomb structured cap and a creamy white stem. 

As the morel grows, the stem becomes brittle before becoming tough and fibrous as the mushroom becomes fully mature.

The yellow morel is a common sight in many woodlands, but can most often be found around the bases of ash, poplar, and elm trees. 

Yellow morels can also be found growing in apple orchards that have been treated with limestone. The limestone changes the pH balance of the soil to alkaline which suits the morel just fine.

Black morels 

A common black wild Morel mushroom.Usually the first type of morel to sprout, black morels have a directive dark cap that curves under to connect to the stem. The stem is a creamy white that changes into a darker more translucent hue as the mushroom ages.

While black morels can often be found around strands of ash, cottonwood, and sycamore, they especially like a wooded area where there has been a recent burn. 

This is because the wood ash changes the pH of the soil to a more alkali mix, much like the limestone treatments in orchards.

 

Morel hunting season

As a general rule, the morel mushroom can be found popping up in the United States from the beginning of March to the end of May. 

They typically show up in the same locations every year and prefer it when the temperatures hit around 60℉ during the day and around 40℉ at night.

How to tell if it’s a real morel

Unfortunately, there are a number of mushrooms that look like morels but are definitely not edible. These include:

  • 1. The early false morel (Verpa bohemica)
  • The early false morel mushroom - Verpa bohemica.
  •  
  • 2. The bell morel (Verpa conica)
  • The bell morel - Verpa conica.
  •  
  • 3. The deadly false morel (Gyromitra esculenta)
  • The deadly false morel - Gyromitra esculenta.

The stinkhorn is also sometimes confused with the morel but is not actively poisonous. 

When it comes to telling if what you’re picking is actually edible, three are two main things to bear in mind.

  1. 1. A true morel will be entirely hollow on the inside. This hollowness will extend from the cap all the way down the stem. Cut the specimen in half to examine if you are unsure.
  1. 2. Morels have a pitted cap that does not sit on top of the stem like an umbrella.

If at any point you are in doubt about whether what you have is a real morel, don’t eat it. 

Mushrooms like the deadly false morel and the early false morel contain the toxin gyromitrin which, if consumed in a sufficient amount, can lead to death.

Hunting morels by state

While morels do technically grow in all 50 states, some states are better than others. 

To help you pick the best morel mushroom hunting spots, we’ve broken the U.S down into sections and provided some quick advice for each one.

Southeast Region

States like Georgia, Louisiana, Alabama, and Mississippi all contain patches of morels, but they just aren’t as abundant as they are further north. Interestingly, hunters from this region report that tulip poplars and sycamore trees are good places to look for morels.

Unfortunately, if you’re morel mushroom hunting in Florida, you may be out of luck. But that certainly doesn’t mean you can’t try!

Southwest Region

If you’re morel mushroom hunting in the Southwest, it’s a good idea to stick to the eastern section of the region, in states such as Texas and Oklahoma.

Central Plains Region

As with the Southwest, Texas and Oklahoma are the best places to fund morel mushrooms, although they can also be found in the river basins of Kansas and around elm and cottonwood trees in Nebraska.

Midwest Region

States like Illinois, Indiana, Missouri, Michigan, Ohio, and Wisconsin are very much a haven for morel mushroom hunting, with morel season starting in April and running through to mid-May. 

Elms (especially dead ones), ash, cottonwoods, oak, sycamore, and apple orchards are all great places to look for morels. 

Northeast Region

When it comes to finding morel mushrooms in states like New York, Maryland, and Pennsylvania, keep your eyes peeled for a confluence of apple and elm trees, ideally in shady but warm areas.

Western Region

If you’re looking for morel mushrooms in states like Oregon, Colorado, and California, keep a lookout for conifers at elevations around 4000 to 6000 feet and burn areas, especially in California.

Buy Wild Mushrooms from Foraged

We have an awesome selection of fresh and dried wild mushrooms. Sustainably harvested by certified foragers.

Buying morels

If you live in a state that doesn’t have a lot of morels, or that doesn’t have the type you love, don’t worry you can buy mushrooms online. 

If you’re looking for morel mushrooms for sale, Foraged is a great place to buy morels while still supporting small-scale producers and foragers.

If you think Foraged is like Etsy for mushrooms, you’re not far off. We help to bring passionate people together to buy and sell mushrooms and mushroom products. All things mushroom, all in one place!

Selling morels

If you’re lucky enough to have a surplus of morels, you can use Foraged to share your morels with others. Setting up your own shop on Foraged and selling morels couldn’t be easier. 

Our passionate and kind team is there to help you every step of the way, and are happy to show you how to how to sell morel mushrooms or even set up your shop for you!

Signing up and listing your items is entirely free, so you have nothing to lose! All of our payments are securely processed through Stripe – the most secure payment processor on the web.

Our job is to support you, and other small-scale producers like you, and we’re just as interested in what new and exciting mushroom products you want to share as we are in the morel price per pound.

Our favorite morel recipes

Morel mushrooms should not be eaten raw, so to finish up, we’ve put together some of our favorite morel mushroom recipes.

Simply fried morels

Simply fried morel mushooms.
Image courtesy of simplyscratch.com

The morel has gained its popularity through its rich deep flavor and if you don’t want to cover that flavor, frying them in a simple flour coating is a great choice.

Ingredients

  • 1 pound fresh morel mushrooms – sliced lengthwise
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • Seasoning to taste

Instructions

  • 1. Before getting started, you need to clean your morels. To do this, placement in a bowl, cover with lightly salted water, and refrigerate for at least five minutes. This should help loosen the dirt.
  • 2. After five minutes, tip out the water and rinse the mushroom. Repeat this process two or three more times. Remember the check the caps for small stones or insects.
  • 3. Once washed, dry your morels thoroughly on some paper towels.
  • 4. While your morels are drying, add your flour to a shallow bowl.
  • 5. Heat your vegetable oil in a large skillet over a high heat, around 350℉ (175℃).
  • 6. Roll your mushroom in the flour and tap them gently on the side of the bowl to get rid of any excess.
  • 7. Pan fry your morels for around five to eight minutes or until golden brown and then drain onto paper towels.
  • 8. Season to taste.

Morel mushroom bisque

Wild Morel mushroom bisque.
Image courtesy of kitchenfrau.com

An amazing combination of onions, garlic, butter, and morels, this recipe works with both fresh and dried mushrooms.

Ingredients

  • ½ cup butter
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 8 ounces fresh morel mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 tablespoon chicken soup base
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground dried thyme
  • salt to taste
  • 2 teaspoons ground black pepper

Instructions

  • 1. Clean your morels as per the method listed in the recipe above.
  • 2. In a large pot, melt your butter over a medium heat.
  • 3. Add the garlic, onion, and morels and cook for around five minutes.
  • 4. Add in the chicken soup base and flour.
  • 5. Cook for a further one to two minutes.
  • 6. Add the water and cream. 
  • 7. Bring the whole mixture to a simmer and cook for a further five minutes.
  • 8. Blend in batches, being careful not to fill the blender more than halfway full.
  • 9. Once blended, add back to the pot and cook over a low heat for fifteen minutes.
  • 10. Add the thyme and season with salt and pepper to taste. 

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