The Morel Mushroom season varies across the United States depending on the region in which you live.Typically, they will begin to arrive when the daytime temperatures are between 60-70 degrees and the night time lows not less then the mid-40's.
Other variables such as the ground temperature, which should reach a consistent temperature of about 53° F. and the rain levels from the preceding year, the months leading up to, and during morel season have a major impact on the fruiting of morels.
The Morel makes a great first mushroom to learn because its spongy shape is so distinctive and easy to identify.
These distinctive mushrooms appear cone-shaped, a sponge-textured fungi that can grow anywhere between 1 to 6 inches tall and they love to hide under the leaves and grasses of the forest. Also morel mushrooms comes in different colors. The darker the color of the morel, the smokier, nuttier, and earthier the flavor will be. The black morels,which appears first, and last for about 3 weeks, tend to be more exclusively in hardwood forests, but not around any particular type of tree. The yellow morels start to fruit about two weeks after the black ones and last about 4 weeks.
Look for the trees!
Morels that are known to associate with morels are tulip poplars, ash (both white and green), hickory, dead or dying elms, cherry, apple, striped maple, grapevines, big toothed aspen, eastern cottonwood, sycamore, eastern white pine.
Morels also enjoy mossy areas, dead tree stumps and semi-freshly timbered areas. The ground needs to be squishy or soft under your feet. Down by the a little creek flowing is always a wonderful area.
When the May Apples start to flatten out is good sign that you are in the correct habitat for morels. So are Fiddleheads, which are young, coiled fronds of the Ostrich Fern. They appear during a short window in the spring and are usually foraged. Both fiddleheads and morels come into season at the same time. Good eating together! recipe Squat down and let your eyes focus on the ground cover as the Morels will magically start to appear before you. Don't step on them as they might be right under your feet!
Morels have been called by many local names; some of the more colorful include "DRYLAND FISH", because when sliced lengthwise then breaded with cornmeal and pan fried, their outline resembles the shape of a fish; "HICKORY CHICKENS", as they are known in many parts of Kentucky. In parts of West Virginia, they are known as "MOLLY MOOCHERS." Other common names for morels include The SPONGE MUSHROOM. The stems and caps of morels are hollow, and the stem is attached at the base of the cap. Cut your mushrooms lengthwise to check.
Morel Mushroom Checklist:
Cut lengthwise.. hollow from bottom of stem to top of cap.
Bottom of the cap will be attached to the stem.
Cap is full of Ridges and Pits.
On most Morels the cap is longer than the stem.
Stem has little bumps both inside and out.
Stalk is usually a lighter color sand, yellow or grayish color.
Half-Free Morel Mushroom Checklist: Color of the half free range from almost yellow to dark brown
The half-free morel's cap is unusually small in comparison to the stem and may only be 1/4th the length of stem.
Cap is not connected at the bottom to the stem.
That is where the common name comes from. Only the bottom half of the cap is free.
This half-free morel is also entirely hollow.
Before cooking, rinse your freshly-found mushrooms with cold water to remove loose dirt and insects. Always cook your morels as they contain small amounts of hydrazine toxins that are removed by thorough cooking.
The FALSE MOREL (Gyromitra Caroliniana) (also known as Red Morel,Lorchel, Brain fungus, or the Beefsteak mushroom)
This mushroom is poisonous.(5) It is distinctively different from the typical morel mushroom. It truly has an ugly looking appearance, with a flat, brain-like cap that is reddish or brownish red in color. False morels tend to be denser with “cottony” insides and the caps of the false morels also tend to look more wrinkled. They also look like a clumb foot appearance.