Saturday, October 23, 2010

Morel Morals

What do you do when a friend announces, "I have a mushroom growing in my garden.  Can you tell me what kind it is?...and she shows you these beauties.  Before me stood over 20 large Morels; the ultimate "Found Fruit." I explained to her that she has rare choice edible mushrooms growing right in her backyard.  Although she offered them to me, I initially declined and encouraged her to try them herself first.  This is what I call "Morel Morals."  Her and her husband did trust me enough to eat them and when they kept coming up she offered me some again.

Morels are rare and are more often found in the wild.  So where did they come from?  She recently hired StarAppleEdibles to do some edible landscaping at her house.  A lot of new dirt and mulch was brought in which must have contained the mushroom mycelium.  Mycelium are the living body of the fungus and the mushroom is the fruit.  Hopefully they will get more than one season of these beautiful mushrooms to appear in their garden.

My favorite way of enjoying wild mushrooms is to saute in butter. Wild mushrooms contain a lot of water. The water will release, so keep cooking until the water evaporates and the oil returns to the pan, then salt and enjoy like you would any other mushroom.  One caution is to always cook Morels in a well vented kitchen to evaporate toxins they contain called Hydrazines.

Now that the rains have returned to the Bay Area, it's the perfect time to get out and forage for wild mushrooms.  To learn more about mushrooms and foraging check out these local mycological organizations: Mycological Society of San Francisco, Bay Area Mycological Society.  Sonoma County Mycological Association.  Once a month the Sonoma County Mycological Society holds a mushroom foraging event with guides in Salt Point State Park that should not be missed.  Check their site and calendar for more information.

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