New Thing: Forage For Mushrooms

What’s hard to find, super valuable, and tastes heavenly with scrambled eggs?

If you guessed
a. the right romantic partner
b. a really good pair of leather boots
c. morel mushrooms

you are correct.

Every year, I make a list of new things to try and I’ve been wanting to try foraging for aaaaages. But you know what’s harder than you’d think? Finding something you’ve never looked for before. In a pile of leaves. On the ground. In a forest you’re unfamiliar with.

Luckily, one of my high school friends is now a professional outdoorsman who literally gets paid to show city slickers like me where to find The Good Stuff. (The Good Stuff in this scenario being morel mushrooms, an incredibly delicious mushroom that can’t be domesticated and sells to restaurants for $35 a pound!)

What does morel hunting look like? In my case, it goes something like this:

Step 1: Choose a date that’s perilously near the end of morel season during an uncommonly warm, dry year

Make your guide nervous. Assure him that it’s cooooool, bruh. Surely, you’ll find something! (Fail to understand whether this is true or not.)

Black morels ‘fruit’ during the cool, damp spring months. Thus far, Minnesota has had a very warm, dry spring. It has not been ideal mushroom weather.

Step 2: Wander around in the woods staring at the ground

Follow your guide around while he tells you about the difference between black morels (which grow in northern Minnesota) and yellow morels (which grow around the Twin Cities). Learn to identify poplars. Stare devotedly at piles of leaves around the base of poplars. Be pretty much completely unaware of what you’re looking for despite your guide’s best efforts to describe them to you and your own fevered Google image searches.

Step 3: Fail to see a mushroom even when your guide is pointing at it

Yelp for joy when your guide finds a morel! Hustle over to him. When he asks if you can see it and gestures in its general direction, spend another three minutes staring at the pile of leaves. FINALLY FIND IT.

hunt for morels

Step 4: Find the biggest, most positively obscene morel in the history of ever

Again, miss it when your guide sees it because you think it’s a log. Be amazed when you compare it to the five lil shrimpers you found. Feel reaaaaaal awkward pulling it up and posing with it for a photo because, well, that business is about to get tagged as ‘inappropriate’ on Facebook.

morels with scrambled eggs

Step 5: Saute with butter and make The World’s Best Scrambled Eggs

Bask in the deliciousness and thank the Foraging Gods that you know Matt Breuer because there’s no way you would have found these on your own.

I had such a good time doing this! I think next time I’ll aim for the significantly easier to find Chicken Of The Woods mushrooms. Because they grow on trees. At eye level. And they’re orange.

Have you ever foraged successfully? Tell me your best tips!

P.S. That time I tried writing to an inmate, shooting a bow, riding a tandem bike.

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  1. amber

    Very cool!

    You have a typo in the top image 😉

    • Sarah Von Bargen

      Blurgh! Corrected – thanks for the head’s up 🙂

      • Amber

        Glad to help! It happens to all of us!

  2. Manisha

    I’ve never foraged mushrooms but I go out for ramps every spring which are awesome for compound butters and pesto and loads of other stuff. This summer my goal is to attend meetings with the MN Mycological Society whcich I’m sure is full of foragers.

    • Sarah Von Bargen

      Fun! I’ve never had ramps but I know everyone loves them!

  3. Gina

    Here’s a fun fact I learned after years of bullheaded determination to eat morels (which I LOVE) while consistently getting sick a few hours after consuming them: People can in fact be allergic to morels, specifically. I can eat every other kind of (nontoxic, obvs) mushroom. It ranks among God’s pettiest jokes, I’d say. Thank heavens for chicken of the woods and chanterelles.

    • Sarah Von Bargen

      Whoa! What a bummer! I haven’t had Chicken of the woods yet but I’m excited to try finding some this fall.

  4. Claire

    We got super lucky one year and had morels pop up in our front yard! Granted, it hasn’t happened since … now I just rely on some mushroom-savvy friends and coworkers to bum along with on their hunts.

    • Sarah Von Bargen

      Whoa! That’s like growing gold in your yard!

  5. Nedra Henline

    Awesome that you got to hang out with Matt and watch him do what he is great at! Not to mention finding the world’s largest inappropriate morel- it’s my favoritest picture! I never can seem to find anything in the woods when we are out looking- I swear that I am oblivious to the wonderful delicacies found in my own back yard!

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