Finally we get to some foraging of foragingfoodbalance! Yesterday was a great find. Morchella or most commonly known as the Morel mushroom!
Most morels are either of the black or the yellow variety (sort of, the blacks and yellows can be further broken down into more species. You will see and example of the yellow type as you keep reading (The black ones too have nearly indistinguishable varieties as well.).
The mushrooms (three to be exact) I found are the Morchella esculenta or yellow morel. To be a bit more correct, they are fairly immature and white, making them M.deliciosa. Had I found them late in the spring and they were yellow with thick footed stalks they would be M. crassipes.
Morels in general have a honeycombed cap on a whitish stalk and they are completely hollow! Some false morels are chambered inside and have wrinkled caps like Gyromitra esculenta. This variety develops a compound similar to that used in manufacturing rocket fuel! Deadly! Other confusing species (Verpa bohemica) have a smaller bell shaped cap attached to the stalk. You want a true morel, do not get it confused with another variety!
Some other signs that I have the yellow/white variety are: Descriptive features (longitudinal, irregular ribs), the time of year (late April), and habitat (dead elm trees and apple trees in the area). I think one of the most important keys in identification is habitat. Know your trees around you! Black morels are usually around conifers, spruce and even pine and poplar (not a conifer) near recently burned areas. Yellow morels are found in old apple orchards, burned areas, dead elms, tulip trees, ash, oak and beech. I have had good luck with these near dead elm and now apple trees.
I was super excited to find these even though it is only three of them! Some years I don’t even find one. 🙂
It’s been so long since my last wild eat. I am not sure exactly what I will do with these yet. I am debating leaving them in hopes of producing more. You are supposed to cut them at the stalk. Never rip them out of the ground! It disrupts the mycelium below (sort of like roots) and they will not return the next year. They are in a safe spot. I don’t think anyone else will get to them but me. If I let them go full cycle I am hoping they will spread spores as well. We will see how it goes. Maybe I can eat just one. It’s not like a chip, right? 🙂
Disclaimer: As always do not eat wild things without consulting your local wild foods expert! When you are sure (100% sure!) you have a wild edible go slow. Eat only a bite! Different people have different reactions to certain foods.