Morel mushrooms have sort of a cult-like following, making them one of the most popular of all the mushrooms out there. Those that hunt morels in orchards and forests love the springtime, when they can find these oddly-shaped mushrooms growing wildly. With their coral-like, pitted cap, they are distinct in looks and are exciting to see. You’ll find that the more that you learn about the elusive morel mushroom, the more you will want to try your hand at growing them. Find out more about the interesting morel, and then read our step-by-step instructions for growing them on your own.
All about Morel Mushrooms
Morels are some of the most fascinating mushrooms out there. Not only do they have such a unique shape, but they also are incredibly hard to find. Why is this? Morels can blend very well into the background of their surroundings. Many people who hunt morels love them for this reason. When you actually find one, it is a very exciting day!
Morels also vary widely in the colors that they grow in. They are sometimes a reddish color or they can be gray, brown or black. Sometimes they grow all by themselves, but often they appear in clumps. They generally appear in the late winter or early spring, once the snow has disappeared. An interesting thing about morels is that they will fruit most prevalently on areas of the ground that have recently been burned or cleared. They also like to pop up under elms that have just died or under older wood chip mulch.
Morels are often called the sponge mushroom, as you can clearly understand when looking at them. They have one of the most distinct shapes of all mushrooms, and yet experts are unsure of how many species there truly are. Because they come in so many different colors and sizes, it is a little baffling! Overall, any mushroom with the sponge-like appearance that is exclusive to morels is called a morel mushroom.
For the most part, it is hard to find fresh morels in the supermarket. Some specialty stores may sell them, but they are very expensive. This is why morel lovers would rather grow them on their own or hunt for them in the wild.
Cleaning of morels can be a bit of a challenge as well. You really should not rinse them for very long or soak them in water, because they will lose much of their flavor. Instead, a quick splash of water will do the trick.
Tastes and Uses
One taste of a morel mushroom and you will understand why the humble fungus has so many devotees. The taste is sort of nutty and meaty, and most people believe that butter is absolutely necessary to bring out the flavor. Many people enjoy them in light cream sauces served with chicken or veal. They should never be eaten raw.
Morels do not lose their flavor when they dry, so they keep very well. Just take dried morels out of storage and simmer them in water or cream for 5-15 minutes before using them in your favorite recipes.
Growing Morel Mushrooms
Those who love morel mushrooms must either find them in the wild or grow them on their own, unless they are lucky enough to come across them at their local store. In order to grow them, as with any mushroom you grow at home, you need to have two main items: the spore of the mushroom and an inoculating medium. Many companies have made this a very easy process for mushroom growers, as they sell kits that have the spore and the medium (wood chips, straw, etc.) all ready to go. These two items combined are called the spawn. Purchase your morel mushroom spawn kit from a gardening store or from an online retailer and then you are ready to get started!
Once you have purchased your spawn or spore kit, carefully read through all the directions. Most of these kits, regardless of where you get them, will have similar steps to follow. Here are the basic steps that any morel mushroom kit will include:
- Step 1
Get your outdoor morel bed ready. You should plant in the late summer or early fall. You will only be successful if you live in a climate that has actual seasons that change. Choose a square of soil outside that is about 4-feet by 4-feet. Mix some gypsum or peat moss into your soil, and make sure it is a little bit sandy. Add in ashes from a fire for the most success, as morels tend to grow after a fire.
- Step 2
Mix your morel spawn or spores according to the instructions on the package of the kit. Add some hardwood chips to the top of the bed. These should preferably be elm or ash chips.
- Step 3
Your next step is to wait for the morels to sprout. Unfortunately, it can take two or three years before you finally have morel mushrooms sprout up. Just make sure that the spores get ample water and keep an eye on them.
Many people get discouraged because they plant the morels and then nothing happens that year. Morels are a reward for patience, so just wait it out and someday, you will have tasty, beautiful morels in your garden!