Each year between mid-April and mid-May, mushroom hunters head for their secret spots in search of the mystifying morel mushroom. The morel’s unique honeycombed cap, hollow center, and whitish stalk make them relatively easy to identify — if you can find them. Online message boards are packed with how-to tips from experienced hunters on where to look with secret locations like the base of poplar trees, around the base of a dying elm tree, in apple orchards, and on mountain slopes with a moist southern exposure.
Dubbed “the steak of the woods,” morels enhance the flavor of accompanied foods — a perfect grilled topping on pizzas, a delicacy sautéed in olive oil with garlic and parsley, or a succulent starter dish atop a slice of bread. “The taste of morel mushrooms [compared] to the button variety you find on pizza is like comparing steak to cardboard,” says Tom Nauman, owner
of the popular Morel Mania website. And, says Nauman, ‘shroomers can sell fresh morels anywhere from $40 to $180 a pound to restaurants. Sought insatiably by the nation’s finest chefs, it’s no wonder there’s a strong market for this culinary catch.
Ronnie McAllister takes morel hunting so seriously that he annually schedules a week’s vacation to hunt in late April. A mere “grasshopper” at mushroom hunting, I invite the master to a nearby tract of land hoping to learn some of his ‘shrooming tactics. Follow along as we hunt these tasty treasures, and read the seven vital tips you must know in order to maximize your hunt.