Hot then cold, dry then deluginal then dry again; it’s been a difficult spring. But this year the Northeast is having an excellent morel season, so there is definitely something good to be said, namely

Blonde morels, Morchella esculenta, get ’em while you can.

The place to get them is in open woodlands or hedgerows, where the soil is alkaline. They frequently keep company with dead elms and dying apples (and poison ivy, I’m sorry to say.)

Bill Bakaitis photo
Morels in a typical habitat. Look to the left and back of the one in the middle to see more. They hide.

Field cleaning ( shaking out bugs, trimming dirt from stems) is essential, and it can be enough if the morels are growing through matted leaves or thick new growth. But a lot of them are in sandy spots or open ground where dirt has splashed up. Always carry a separate bag or basket to put the dirty ones in, so they don’t contaminate the rest.

The little heap at left in front are the dirty ones from this expedition. The little heap at the right is trimmings. Morels last a long time in the fridge if you trim off anything nasty before you put them away, loosely wrapped in waxed paper so they can get air without drying up.

When you get this many, they will dry up before you can eat them all. We used to do this on purpose, threading them on string and hanging them in the greenhouse. Morels are thin fleshed and dry quickly, concentrating the flavor. But for the last decade or so we’ve been mostly stewing them in butter and storing them in the freezer. They keep better texture that way and are much more versatile.

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