Monday, April 13, 2009

BULLETIN: Morels found in Deerfield!

Walking the dogs along the driveway this weekend, I happened to look down to my left to see a stately morel. (Photo at right). A morel is a rare mushroom found in some parts of Appalachia. The fungus is prized for its taste and texture. A quick look on Amazon told me that dried morels are selling for up to $440 a pound. (That's not a misprint).

I quickly scoured the decaying leaves and picked out 14 of the sponge-like beauties in a patch between the driveway and creek. The area was about 6 X 20 feet. Later, I made a diligent search along both sides of creek for about a quarter mile. No more morels to be found.

Morels are mysterious. They cannot be cultivated. They grow only where they want and they may or may not come back in the same spot next year no matter how carefully they are harvested. Research on the Internet tells us morels grow when redbud trees bloom. Ours are at their peak. In second photo, our granddaughter, Keaton Link, tries to figure out what kind of Popsicle her grandfather has given her.

The history of the morel is interesting. In Kentucky they are known as "dryland fish" because if you fillet one it resembles a fish in a frying pan. Another name is "hickory chickens." Stories abound about mountain folk subsisting on morels during the Great Depression. (Maybe they only grow when times are desperate.) West Virginians call them "molly moochers."

In parts of the United States and Europe, professional morel hunters search the woods for morels each spring. The hunters pay special attention to land that has been ravaged by forest fires. Morels apparently pop up two or three years after an area has been burned.

I'll have more about the harvesting and eating of morels in future posts.

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