When you meet someone who hunts morel mushrooms, you know you’ve just met a person you can share all of your most secret-y secrets with—and they’ll never tell. Why am I so certain of this? Well, morels are one of those elusive foodstuffs, and only a select few ever stumble across them while foraging in the woods. Once a growing spot is found, the fortunate hunter will go back every year to gather the treasure…and you’re not invited. Ever. The location of these goodies is a highly guarded secret that shall not be revealed to anyone. Don’t even ask.
You may think I’m joking or offering up your weekly dose of hyperbole, but you’d be mistaken. Go ahead. Seek out your neighborhood morel hunter and give it a go. Unlike the morel, this magical mushroom finder shouldn’t be too hard to find. Look no further than your local farmers’ market, where someone is bound to be selling them this time of year—for a gazillion dollars an ounce. Okay, that might be your weekly hyperbole, but not by much. Morels are worshipped by those in the know, which justifies the healthy price tag. This is just one of the reasons you ain’t finding out where they came from.
Yes, finding morels is like finding a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow in the middle of nowhere. But please, please, please, don’t be tempted to go gathering them on your own. After all, toxic wild mushrooms have earned names like Death Cap and Destroying Angel for a reason—and aimless wandering for morels can lead to aimless nibbling on these imposters. This may result in you being a goner, or at least feeling really, really horrible for quite some time. Mushroom poisoning happens, and you don’t want any part of it.
What you do want is the super nutrition mushrooms have to offer. “But mushrooms are a fungus,” you say. “What’s so nutritious about a fungus?” It turns out that mushrooms are so high in nutrients that they’re a frequent ingredient in Standard Process whole food supplements. As Sally Fallon points out in Nourishing Traditions, mushrooms provide you with a secret laundry list of nutrients you may not even know about.
- Protein: Mixing mushrooms with broccoli and corn creates a complete protein, which is essential for every cell in your body.
- Minerals: Phosphorus, iron, potassium, selenium, and calcium make a nice cocktail of minerals your body needs to thrive, and they’re all found in mushrooms.
- Vitamins: Mushrooms are packed with B complex vitamins (especially biotin) that keep your hair and nails strong and healthy, among other things.
Yup, morel season is just getting underway, so cultivate your friendship with this morel hunter. While they’ll never reveal their own stash, they just might be willing to give you some pointers on finding your own patch, one you’ll keep secret for years to come.
Haven’t reached that level of confidentiality yet? Try searching online for a foraging class in your area, and learn from someone who knows what to look for. You’ll be joining a clandestine society of special code words and secret handshakes—or at least that’s what my imagination conjures. And you’ll suddenly find that people want to be your new favorite buddy because you, my friend, can keep a secret.
So what’s the moral of the morel story? I guess you could say it’s three-fold:
- Morel hunters can keep a secret, which makes them really good friends.
- Don’t go looking for morels unless you know what you’re doing.
- Mushrooms contain a whole lot more nutritional value than we usually give them credit for.
Mushrooms deserve to be enjoyed with little to no fuss, much like the Sautéed Mushrooms with Balsamic Vinegar from Chef Phyllis Quinn’s recent post Fabulous Fungi. While morels are sublime, Chef Phyllis explains that mushrooms of all varieties should be in your arsenal of go-to ingredients.
Here are some more ideas for mushroom madness:
- Make the Maitake Mushroom Immune-Boosting Soup from The Heal Your Gut Cookbook by Hilary Boynton and Mary G. Brackett.
- Try the Mushroom Risotto or Cream of Mushroom Soup from Nourishing Broth by Sally Fallon Morell and Kaayla T. Daniel.
- Or simply chop some up for your next omelet. Delicious!
My last and final question for you is…care to tell me where you found your last batch of morels? Trust me, I can keep a secret.