Foraging for Fungi

Connie and I had another adventure this weekend, this time near Rushford, MN, where we went foraging for wild food – the coveted morels.  Neither of us had been foraging before, but morels are delicious, and hey, it’s free food, if we found them!

Given the dangers of eating unknown fungi, and our novice skills, we enlisted the help of an expert.  Our expert was eleven year old H, whose parents own Sheep Improvement Company and sell lamb and beef at our local Farmer’s Market as O’Neill Family Farms.  Since H has gone hunting for morels many times with her family, she knew right where to take us.  As I was a passenger without a notebook, I can’t tell you where exactly we were, but I believe we were within Winona County, since we were less than 30 minutes from home, and we didn’t cross the Mississippi.  We were on Sheep Improvement Company’s land by invitation, which has pasture, woods, and guard dogs.

The first thing to know about hunting morels is that they usually grow near elm trees, and most often near dead elm trees, so we learned h0w to identify elm bark, but this may or may not be helpful, since dead trees don’t always have bark left on them.

It seemed like we were in the woody area no more than five minutes before H found our first two morels.  It helps to bring the expert!  It also helps to see what they look like in situ, so you can adjust your image while you search.

Can you find them?

Here are the first two that I found, before I picked them.  You can click on the image to see it larger.  I was a bit surprised that they were not closer to the trees, but with further thought, it makes sense- they need some sunlight.

C shows us her find

Here is Connie’s daughter C, proudly showing the first one she found.

The Joy of First Discovery

Connie was very excited to find this one with no help from H.   We spent about an hour and a half traipsing around in the wooded area, and we managed to find about 16 morels of varying sizes.  Here’s a picture of the haul.

Foraging Success!

My next assignment is to cook these beauties, and provide a recipe.  I think there may be butter involved.  Stay tuned!

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