Empire woman finds early morel surprise
The Empire area woman enjoyed fresh morel mushrooms with a steak dinner. It was the earliest date she can remember picking morels.
“The earliest day before this was April 14 in 2004,” said Sielaff, who went to her “usual spot” and found a good mess of black morels to cook up. “I love them, but I had forgotten how good they were.”
Bingham Township’s Angela Whittaker reported picking morels at the end of March.
Ed Reinert, Leelanau Conservancy docent and mushroom authority, said he hasn’t found any in his treks around his home north of Northport. But that’s not usual for him.
“They end up finding me,” he said. “I get discouraged hunting.”
Reinert said that temperatures last month was “perfect” for growing dark morels. However, things cooled off substantially after the big warm up, slowing the growth of all spring crops.
“They don’t retreat into the ground. They just stopped at the size of pinheads,” he explained.
Fortunately, Reinert said spring morels aren’t a “one and done” prospect. There will be more “fungus among us” as temperatures warm and with April showers.
Meanwhile, Sielaff will continue to scout her usual picking spots for more of the spring delicacy for which her niece, Lindsey Friend, has now acquired a taste.
“At this time of the year, I don’t even rinse them,” Sielaff said. “It’s too cold for bugs.”
What about sand?
“I don’t pick the ones in sand,” she said.
Wherever morels are picked Reinert encourages those who enjoy the mushrooms to cook them thoroughly before consuming them as the cell structure is difficult for humans to digest.
“There were a lot of people who became sick,” he said. “Just make sure they are cooked all the way through.”