Looking for the elusive mushroom in Arkansas’ boundless woodlands?
Hoping to make all those recipes you have saved that incorporate morel mushrooms, finally?
Morel mushroom is a rare species of mushroom anywhere in the world.
It is coveted everywhere since it can not be grown in a garden or farm but is only found in the wild.
They are a hot commodity for collectors and chefs alike, as it takes a significant amount of time and effort to scour through forests and hills to look for these prized mushrooms.
Come springtime, foragers work through acres of land to forage Morel mushrooms to sell at the farmers’ market or to fancy restaurants.
Morrels have been used in traditional medicine for years. Studies have shown they possess anti oxidative and anti-inflammatory properties besides immunostimulatory and anti-tumor properties.
These decadent mushrooms can be incorporated into many recipes and are high in demand at fine dining restaurants.
Morel mushroom risotto and Morel Mushroom Pasta in Parmesan Cream Sauce are popular dishes.
Morel mushrooms can be sauteed with other vegetables (they go great with asparagus), incorporated into butter sauces, soups, or added as toppings.
The options are infinite!
What is the Morel Mushroom?
Morel mushrooms are a genus of edible sac fungi.
The caps of these mushrooms have a network of raised ridges and pits that gives them a honeycomb look.
Their distinctive appearance makes it a little easier to spot them in the wild!
Morels are wild mushrooms that are difficult to cultivate and only found in the wild.
Therefore, they are more expensive than other mushrooms, especially since the demand for them is so high.
Their flavor is robust and nutty.
The taste and texture lean more towards meaty than slimy when compared to other common mushrooms such as cremini and portabella.
They are white and hollow on the inside.
When cut in half they resemble a pitted and elongated date.
Overall, their flavor is comparatively mild.
This makes them suitable for most dishes because they subtly enhance the flavors of any dish.
The earthy, nutty warmth of morels blends with all components of a dish overwhelming no other ingredient.
Morel mushrooms come in all shapes and sizes.
They come in a variety of sizes from elongated to bulbous.
Even their colors range from blonde to gray.
The darker morels even have a smoky flavor to them.
However, be careful while picking morels since like most mushrooms morels also have poisonous doppelgangers.
These false morels have a more reddish to yellow color and their cap seems weighed down on one side.
Where do you find morel mushrooms in Arkansas?
Morels can be found occurring naturally all across North America and Europe in woodlands.
In Arkansas, Northcentral Arkansas is a hotspot for morels.
Some towns that have reported sightings of morels include Sulfur Rock, Paragould, Jonesboro, Evening Shade, West Fork, and Eureka Springs among others.
Where is the best place to find morels?
Morels grow in the shade of treelines in forests.
So specific places you can scour may include:
- The sides of south-facing slopes are the sides that receive more sunlight.
- Morels can grow on trees and some trees especially elm, ash, poplar, and apple trees are suitable hosts to the Morels.
- Worn patches of ground, turned that way by the force of a flood or a burn site have also seen significant Morel growth.
- Along the drip line of trees, morels get enough shade and moisture.
- Near dead or dying trees are also an excellent spot to check out.
- You may also have luck looking for morels in a well-drained loamy soil
What is the best time of the year to look for morels?
The best time to look for morels is during spring.
Spring rain and the return of warmth contribute to the growth of morels.
A sudden surge in their numbers is observed in the early warm days after the first few springtime rainfalls.
So mid-March through April is the best time to look for morels.
What is the best time of day to find morel mushrooms?
The best time is when the sun has been shining brightly for a good few hours so that any remaining ice frozen over the mushrooms can melt off.
This makes it easy to uproot the mushrooms from the ground.
What are the best conditions for finding morel mushrooms?
Areas with warm temperatures and frequent rain see dramatic growth in Morel population.
You will monitor the weather if you’re hoping to find morels on your next hunt.
Morels thrive in air temperatures of 60 degrees or higher and soil temperatures ranging from 45 to 50 degrees.
Precipitation is also important to set the stage for morels to grow.
Morels like a humid environment to multiply productively.
A wet spring with bouts of sunshine creates the perfect setting for these mushrooms to grow.