Growing up, morel mushrooms were always in our skillets in late spring. The hunt would commence in April with my Grandpa Yoder, who was in every sense our mushroom man. He would know right where to hunt and how to pinch them off. It was fair to say pounds would be eaten by our family each season. It wasn’t until I was in my 30s that I truly understood the rarity of these delectable fungi, or fully appreciated the gift of having such a meal to savor.
My grandfather passed many years ago, leaving that hunting legacy to my mother, father and middle brother. They don’t find the pounds and pounds any longer, nor is the search as much of an adventure these days, but no matter the size of the find we still celebrate my grandfather with those fried morels accompanied with a piece of white bread smothered in butter. Sometimes the memories are as flavorful as the dish.
When: Mid to late April and May Ground temperature 45–55°F Mushrooms stop producing when ground temperature rises above 60°F
The perfect conditions: Moist soil warm morning following a nighttime shower
Old wives tale: Best time to hunt coincides with dogwood leaves being “the size of a mouse’s ear”
Fallen elm trees with bark sliding off
Dying elm trees
Black Morels, Morchella angusticeps Early April, first to appear around ash and poplar trees, sometimes conifers
Yellow Morels, Morchella esculentoides Late April to mid May Dying elm, ash, old apple orchards, near or under fallen trees. Golden yellow color with light-colored ridges and pits
Gray Morels, Morchella americana Late April to mid May Dying elm, ash, old apple orchards, near or under fallen trees
• Pinch them off at the base—don’t remove the root.
• Leave a few to reproduce for future years—if you pick them all they will be gone.
• Put them in a brown paper bag and store in the refrigerator until ready to eat.
• To freeze them: Cook the mushrooms, lay them out on a baking sheet, freeze, remove and place them in an airtight bag to avoid freezer burn.
• Hunting mushrooms for personal use may be permitted at Indiana State Parks. It is always advised to check with the office prior to hunting. Commercial hunting is prohibited.
• Hunting areas are sacred to many avid mushroom hunters.
• Sellers must be certified to sell the mushrooms.
• 2018 Mansfield Village Mushroom Festival April 28–29 MansfieldVillage.com
• Morel Mushroom Festival May 5 Brown County State Park Nature Center
• Indiana RedBarn Morel Jamboree May 4–6 Indiana RedBarn, Nashville
What Other Morel Lovers Say...
“Blackish sand, ash trees and apple orchards have been good for hunting.” —Bob DuCharme, Pottery by Dewey
“Kerry Gold and a skillet.” —Shawn Vail
“I think the simpler the better with these babies. I just like to sauté them with a little butter and salt and pepper, and toss them on pizzas or in pasta. So good!” —Lauren McDuffie, Harvest and Honey
“David Foegley makes the most amazing escargot with morels and I think a sherry cream sauce!” —Jennifer Watterson, Harry & Izzy’s
In 2017, 13-year-old Kayden Graber of Greene County, Indiana, found one morel measuring 11 inches tall—big enough to feed a family