Maxine Stone has hunted the elusive mushrooms for years and says they have a distictive look.
“A morel is either black or yellow or grey and it has ridges and pits, definite ridges and definite pits,” Stone says, “and when you cut it down from the top to the bottom, it’s totally hollow inside.”
Stone says those who are morel hunting for the first time should go with people who know what the mushroom looks like. She says you should never eat a wild mushroom without positively identifying it.
“I think first time around, if you’re going to eat a mushroom, I wouldn’t go by a picture,” Stone says. “I would either take it to someone who knows what they’re doing or take really good pictures of the mushrooms and send them to someone who knows what they’re doing.”
Stone says her favorite way to cook morels is by sautéing them with onion, cream and cognac over pasta and bread. Some people prefer to bread and fry them, but she says that’s too “old school.” Stone adds, you should always cook a wild mushroom before you eat it.
Morel hunter Malissa Briggler says morels can be found near dying elm trees but avid mushroom hunters keep quiet tabs on the places where they hunt.
Briggler says, laughing, “A lot of times they’ll be popping up at the same spot next year so you want to kind of guard your area closely so you don’t let your secret out or you might have somebody beat you to the spot next year.”
Briggler says you do not need a license to hunt morels, but hunters should get permission from landowners and check regulations on public land before collecting mushrooms.