Thursday, June 16, 2011

Chef David's Morel Tale

Spring is here and the morel mushroom season has come and gone in New Jersey.

Executive Chef Kevin McDermott, culinary intern Courtney Reed, and I spent many weekends and lunch hours running out to check on various likely spots and finally, around the second week in April, we found some of these little gems. Once you find a morel in the wild, you are hooked!

For us, the feeling is equal to a kid finding Easter eggs filled with candy. I find it simply addicting to hunt mushrooms!  Why?  I appreciate good food, especially the free stuff courtesy of mother nature.

Once we found them, we came back to the same spots over the next two weeks to find more morels, and bigger ones too. It's very easy to run out in your backyard and find mushrooms, it's much harder to find specific varieties. Once you have found spot where these mushrooms grow, you can rely on them to come back year after year for some time.

Morels are often found in old apple orchards, groves of elms, ash, or tulip poplar trees, For those of you who have not yet discovered the exciting world of mushroom hunting, morels are probably the best place to start.

WARNING!  Before you run out and eat what looks like morels to you, become as educated as you can about the subject!  Buy a book or ten on hunting mushrooms in general. I found Morels, by Michael Kuo, and The Complete Mushroom Hunter, by Gary Lincoff to be particularly good for those just getting started.

Joining a mushroom club and going to forays with experts is also a great way to learn. Finding wild mushrooms is only part of the fun, as they are also one of the yummiest things you can eat.

Now we have to wait until it's chanterelle season!  Until then, it's a great time to plant our vegetable gardens.

Happy Hunting!

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