Why you should expect fewer fresh morels this season | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Why you should expect fewer fresh morels this season

Morels are wild mushrooms that will only grow a year after a forest fire.

Fewer wildfires mean fewer fresh morel mushrooms for Okanagan residents.

Scott Moran, a Kelowna forager who sells mushrooms and greens to restaurants and at farmer’s markets, said there’s been a shortage of the mushrooms for the last few years. They thrive in areas burned by wildfires and there hasn't been many recently.

According to Vancouver Island Mushrooms, the taste of morels is variously described as nutty, meaty, umami, and like mushrooms. They generally grow in temperatures above 10 C and have a honeycomb-like cap.

“It’s a low-volume season so the prices are high but that’s normal, that’s why I got into plants,” Moran said, adding that last year foragers didn’t see as many morels either.

READ MORE: MORAN: Morels in our midst

“They also grow if you put bark mulch down on your lawn, they’ll grow the next year,” he said. “There’s pretty much always a shortage of morels, except those years of hundreds of thousands of hectares burned.”

On West Coast Wild Foods, 100 grams of fresh morel mushrooms will sell for $12 and 15 grams of dried morels are sold for $14.

“I recommend buying dried, because they’re much more consistent and affordable. When you convert fresh to dried it’s a 10-to-one conversation ration, 90% of the morel is water,” Moran said.

“I’m still keeping quite a few people happy, getting used to the dried (mushrooms),” he said, adding that restaurants are also accepting more dried morels, especially since COVID-19.

During picking season, foragers set up large camps to collect the morels. There might be 20 pickers in an area and one person might have a mushroom wood stove that dries all the mushrooms after they purchase them from the pickers.

“In a typical mushroom year, half of everything that gets picked, gets dried and that’s a whole separate industry,” Moran said.

“Sometimes in a year it could be thousands of pounds, this year and last year there hasn’t been much so that’s why it’s good for people buying other stuff so foragers can keep going. If we want morels, we need fires, that’s basically it.”

READ MORE: Expected morel mushroom bounty prompts regulation from B.C. First Nation

Depending on the elevation, morels can be picked throughout May to July, but pickers would need to move to different locations throughout the season, Moran said.

“They need a certain soil temperature just to start, so the stuff high in the mountains may not start until early summer if it gets burned,” he said.

This year’s best spot for morels is at Canal Flats by Cranbrook and Creston, he said.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Carli Berry or call 250-864-7494 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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