Morels are a good first mushroom to learn to forage for since they really don’t look like anything poisonous. The closest character is the false morel, but once you’ve found some true morels, that one is pretty easy to spot. And it won’t kill you, which is good.
So, while we watch the snow fall outside, again, we can dream about tables covered in beautiful morels, skillets filled with morels sizzling in butter with just the tiniest bit of garlic, chicken and morels in cream sauce, and the heady smell of a house full of drying mushrooms. Sigh.
We went on a little camping expedition this weekend, and it wasn’t until the afternoon of the second day that I managed to find any of these beauties. Boletus Edulis. Also known as penny buns, porcini, cep, and steinpilz (depending on which European grandparents you had …).
I’d been finding plenty of other boletes — especially the scabre stalks (Leccium Insigne), but I’d been skunked on the real prize, the delicious, aromatic, marvelous porcini.
Part of my problem this year is that my secret spot burned up in a forest fire two years ago, so I’ve had to start over, but it’s been raining off and on all summer, and it’s a marvelous year for summer mushrooms.
This picture actually only shows about half my stash. I cooked up the small ones the first night we got home (although my sweetheart, he-who-doesn’t-eat-vegetables didn’t really like them. Oh well, more for me). These were the big ones, that I suspected might harbor …. hitchikers
They were pretty clean though. Some of the really big ones, I had to strip the spongy “tubes” out of (it’s how you can tell a member of the bolete family, they have a spongy layer of tubes under the cap instead of gills). There were a few little worms, and I did have to throw out two big mushrooms altogether because they were just too far gone, but for the most part, they were clean, and lovely. So I sliced them, cleared a shelf in the pantry and there’s now three stacked cake racks with drying mushrooms on them.
And the summer is young yet. There are still mushrooms out there to be found. I can feel them growing …