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MORAN: Morels in our midst

Morel mushrooms
April 26, 2017 - 12:05 PM

 


OPINION


Wild mushrooms are a bit of a legendary food. They can inspire awe, fear, and responses of all kinds from those unfamiliar to these delicacies. I will always give credit to the morel mushroom for starting me on the path to becoming a professional forager.

Morels are famous for growing after forest fires. In the first spring after a burn, morels will pop out of the ground one time only. They are the first of many waves of life to bring the destroyed forest back to a healthy state. There is another type of morel that is not as well known in B.C. that I refer to as a natural morel.

I've been collecting natural morels in the Okanagan for most of my life. There are still many things I don't understand about them, mainly why they appear when and where they do. Along rivers, in orchards, parks, fields, forests, they can make an appearance almost anywhere, and yet are likely to be the most difficult wild mushroom to forage.

If you are out walking the dog or taking a casual stroll amongst the orchard blossoms and come upon a tall and skinny conical fungi with a honeycombed cap and hollow white stem, you have found a morel. They tend to grow in patches so there is most likely more than one.

Morels, and most wild edible mushrooms, are only safe to eat once they are cooked. Once you've hit the books and safely identified your fungus (the identification forums on Facebook are also a good option) the best way to cook them is to slowly simmer in butter until they are slightly crisp and brown on the edges, almost like a piece of bacon. Add garlic, herbs, white wine, whipping cream, and reduce until it is nice and thick. The simplest way to enjoy thus sauce is on a piece of toast but of course it will be good on pasta or any meat.

If you aren't so fortunate and find none, ask for them at our local fine dining establishments this weekend and you may just end up eating some that I harvested.

Check out my Facebook page Everything Wild to stay up to date on our local foraging scene.

— Scott Moran is a local forager discovering his own path to food freedom.


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