Mushroom Time: Your Michigan Morel Hunting Guide
Let the hunting – and feeding – frenzy begin!
Morel mushroom season is upon us in Michigan. With warmer temperatures, searching for the tasty fungi is a great way to get outdoors and take in a beautiful spring day.
The meaty morsels are highly sought after and can sell for big bucks. Foragers protect the location of their finds with a vengeance. If you’re hoping to score a mushroom jackpot, read on for some tips on how to get started and how to pick safely and ethically.
Michael Schira is an educator with the Michigan State University Extension, specializing in sustainable natural resources management. He said it’s hard to predict how good the mushroom haul will be in any given year.
After soaking rains during warm spring weather, Schira said upland hardwood and aspen tree stands could be good places to investigate. Looking near dying or dead trees, especially elm or ash, is also a worthwhile pursuit. Definitely check places you’ve found mushrooms in the past, but Schira said to not rule out formerly unproductive areas or places you’ve never tried because conditions change year to year.
According to Schira and the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR), there tends to be a larger crop of morels in forests where a prescribed burn or wildfire took place the previous year. Here’s a map of recent fires that took place in Michigan.
No matter where you find them, you’ll want to make sure they won’t make you sick. Schira has these tips:
- Don’t pick or eat anything you aren’t sure is safe to eat. There are poisonous mushrooms in Michigan that can cause people to become ill or even die. This guidebook identifies some of the poisonous mushroom varieties that grow in the state – steer clear.
- Clean and cook mushrooms thoroughly before eating.
- Even “safe” varieties can be problematic for some individuals. Eat small samples of new safe varieties to make sure you aren’t allergic or have a negative reaction before ingesting large portions.
You should never trespass on someone else’s property to find mushrooms, Schira said. Precautions should also be taken to protect yourself from insects such as mosquitoes and ticks, especially as the season moves into the summer months. You are free to search for mushrooms for personal use on state land without a permit.
Do you morel? We won’t ask you to give up your secret hunting spots, but we do want to hear your best mushroom preparation tips. Share your favorite recipes in the comments.
If you liked this post, you might also enjoy:
- That’s Wild: Foraging Takes Local Food to New Extremes
- Three Springtime Vegetables You’ll Get to Cook with Soon
- 50 Reasons Why Michigan is Foodie Paradise
Photo credit: terry priest