Friday, May 5, 2017

Mushroom Madness

Abandoned road
The madness is over, mushroom hunters have returned from the woods, removed all the ticks and burrs, eaten all their precious mushrooms and have returned to some resemblance of sanity. Me included. I wasn't sure how mushroom season would go this year after and unbelievably mild and thus very dry winter. Going into April, we had cracks in our yard a foot deep and probably the warmest February in history had caused undergrowth to spring up much earlier than normal.

Murder scene
Although reports started coming in about people finding lots of mushrooms on river bottoms, they are generally a week earlier than we can find them in our brushy ditches and wooded areas that I typically hunt. The following week, I wasn't able to mushroom hunt due to other obligations but my parents went and found not a one in our normal locations. A week later, the girls and I were able to go down while my wife was at a conference and spend a day looking at the tale end of the season. (Mushroom season is about two weeks long and then it is over for the year.)

Deer skull at the murder scene
We had some issues with mushroom poachers this year for the first time in awhile and so our regular spots were pilfered even though they weren't producing many mushrooms as normal this year. So we tried some new territory including the old road at the top of this post that is actually on the state line and is the border of one of our farms. My oldest daughter found a half bag full, my dad found a half bag full but I found nothing. I blame the fact that I had to take it easy since my four year old was walking with me but still, I didn't find a thing.

Kissing trees
After several hours, we dropped the girls at home with my mom and my dad and I headed out to do some more serious hunting. This time I had no excuses and after another hour, my dad had a half bag full and I had none. I was starting to believe that this would be the first year I could remember where I hadn't found a single mushroom. That is when I found that golden morel growing literally six inches from the base of a recently deceased elm tree. I wasn't going to be skunked but it would be the only mushroom I would find this year.

Abandoned shoe, perhaps from a mushroom poacher?

Fortunately, a family friend had stopped by earlier and had found lots of mushrooms along river bottoms and larger timbered area, neither of which we have access too, and gave up some of their surplus. My parents kept those and I got to take home my one and all the other mushrooms found by my dad and my oldest daughter so I ended up with around three pounds of  morel mushrooms. I've been eating on them for a week and by the time I finish, I will have had enough to get me through until next year. At that point, the madness will set in again and I will be scarce around my blog for a couple weeks.

A mess of morels battered in some flour, cornmeal, Parmesan cheese and some spices and then lightly fried.


sage said...

My mouth is watering... it's been a few years.

Kelly said...

Mushroom season? Poachers? I had no idea!! Do you have limits, need a license? (I'm just teasing you)

As you know, I'm not a mushroom fan other than photographing them... so I'm no more tempted by your last photo than you are by my talk of black olives.

I see mushrooms here pretty much year round (and took another photo this week I'll eventually share), but they're probably not the kinds you pick for consumption.

I like the kissing trees.

Ed said...

Sage - A few years too many!

Kelly - The worst part was that both poachers were Amish who knew my parents, knew they owned the land and knew they mushroom hunted. My father caught both and had it been me, I would have taken their found mushrooms but my father just told them to take their mushrooms and leave.

Vince said...

I saw some about a month ago, but none since.
You've had quite a harvest.

Pumpkin Delight (Kimberly) said...

Wow! I never knew mushrooming was a thing. I mean I know that someone must pick the mushrooms they sell in the story, but I didn't know that it was such a short window and that there was POACHING. That's cut throat!
I'm not a mushroom fan either, but I know a lot of people who would drool over your plate there. What a fun thing to do!

Leigh said...

The fried mushrooms look delicious! I don't reckon we grow any good kinds of mushrooms around here, because I've never heard of anyone going mushrooming.

Ed said...

Vince - They go quickly!

Pumpkin Delight - Thus far, morels haven't been domesticated so they aren't ones you find in a store. I'm sure those are raised on massive scales all year round. Morels only grow in the wild and for two weeks a year, three weeks in a perfect year.

Leigh - I don't know exactly where you live but I know others through the internet who have found them as far south as central Alabama. They seem to grow just about everywhere but in my experience, most people really don't know the when and where to look and so they just grow unobserved. Currently I am reading about people in northern Wisconsin and southern Canada harvesting them.