So it’s finally here, after a long winters wait, spring has sprung and all the little treasures have started popping out. Morel season can be wonderful or it can drive you crazy. When you find these little beauties, it’s a true delight but when you search and search and come up empty, it can be frustrating. Now of coarse the true blessing is simply being out in the splendor of nature, seeing the new buds on the trees and flowers opening up their petals welcoming in the first blooms of the year. My first couple of attempts to find morels wasn’t very fruitful, it wasn’t until a few years ago that I began dialing in all the key indicators, the right trees (ash and poplar), the right soil temps (5 days at 55), the right kinds of soil (sandy, soft) and for me at least there’s always a water source close by. I’ve learned how they move over the season, from lower to higher elevations and it starts with the black and the gray morels and moves into the blondes. It’s a special and highly prized mushroom, in it’s unique flavor but more over how well they hide makes for a truly meditative hunt. Often times you must sit and observe the landscape, or slowly crawl along the forest floor. This year they began to show around the 23rd of March and they should still be flushing through a few weeks of this month. The other element that makes them so special is that it’s such a short window to find them and then…poof…they are gone! I’ll talk more about morels and give some good resources at the end of this blog.
Monthly Special: This months special is $10 off Usnea tincures. Unfortunately subvariants of this virus are still looming around us, mixed with allergies makes for bad time for many of us. Usnea is a lichen, which is a cross between fungi and moss. It grows abundantly in many parts of the country but it’s especially important to collect it away from any high pollution areas, as it is like a sponge. As we move from winter into spring, our bodies transition accordingly. I have Usnea double extracted tinctures in 1 and 2oz sizes, also a blend of Birch polypore and Usnea together (only available in 2oz), which are also on sale!
Benefits of Usnea (old mans beard) include:
Helping to treat-HPV, kidney problems, coughs, indigestion, colds, fever, flu, weight gain and showing promise with certain cancers. Usnea is especially good for respiratory and urinary issues, throat and phlegm issues as well. It treats the common cold as a tea and tincture or even eaten fresh. Here’s a resourceful article on it: https://howtocure.com/usnea-benefits/
Markets this month: The season of tail gate markets is upon us. Here’s where I’ll be this month…
East Asheville: At 954 Tunnel rd at Groce United Methodist church. I’ll be at opening day 4/1, and I’ll be there every Friday this month! https://www.eastashevillemarket.com/
Lester: At the Leicester community center on Wedensdays 3:30-6:30, I’ll be at opening day 4/13, 4/20 and 4/27 https://www.facebook.com/lesterfarmersmarket
Mars Hill: At College st. in Mars Hill, Saturdays 10-1….I will be here once a month, 4/9 this month. http://marshillmarket.org/
Yancey County: At 6 town square in Burnsville. Saturdays 8:30-12:30. Opening day is 4/23, and I’ll also be there 4/30. https://yanceycountyfarmersmarket.wordpress.com/
To start with here’s two great resources in your hunt for morels. https://www.greencastonline.com/tools/soil-temperature this site will give you the average ground temps in your area over a five day period, as mentioned before the average temperature your looking for is around 55 degrees. Every year is different and this year the season started in our region around March 22nd or so. The second resource is, https://www.thegreatmorel.com/, this site lets you see a map of reported morel sightings throughout the country, along with great pictures, recipes and more.
I might add it’s helpful to have a friend that is dialed in! My good friend and foraging partner turned my whole perspective around by taking me to some of his spots, I feel quite lucky to have such a friend. He has fine tuned into a perfect combination of environment and timing and his eye is on point.
When I first started hunting I had no idea where to look, the first two spots I discovered, one was by complete accident of almost stepping on one and then finding a bunch more and the other spot was gifted to me from a friend that gave me a precise location. Over the years I’ve learned the environment, conditions and the right trees all are important parts of finding morels.
There is a false morel and in the pictures above you can see it’s very different in appearance, I call it the ugly morel. Another way to tell true from false morels is cutting them open, true morels are hollow, where as false morels are not. The half free morel is an interesting one, with an unusual cap. These ones are just as tasty as the others.
Lastly another early mushroom making it’s appearance soon is the pheasant back. These are edible and taste great but only when small, as they get bigger they get tough and bitter. These are polypore mushrooms with pores instead of gills and are white on the bottom. They have a scent of cucumber. To me they are one of the prettiest mushrooms. Finding pheasants usually indicts that the morels have left for the year.
Happy hunting out there, hope your enjoying the spring and all the little wonders peeking out.