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On a base of morels: spot (and cook) the rare spring mushroom

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Morel mushroom season is here in Ontario, but it won’t last long.

If you’re in the woods and see a weird mushroom growing in a seemingly random location, take a closer look, it could be a morel.

Morels are not like other wild mushrooms that grow in the region, they are edible and considered by many to be a delicacy.

Morels cannot be grown like other varieties of mushroom because they have a complex symbiotic relationship with trees that cannot be reproduced in an artificial environment, so every morel you eat should be hand-picked from the wild. .

Brooke Robinson, a resident of Windsor, Ont., Has agreed to introduce CBC News to her family’s morel. (Mike Evans / CBC)

The trick is to find them: once you do, there is a good chance that the morels will grow back in the same place the following year, as they are the reproductive organ of the underground mycelium that remains after the harvest of the morel.

Since morels normally return to the same location every year, morel pickers tend not to know where their favorite hunting spots are. In some families, the locations of morel hotspots are passed down from generation to generation.

Windsor resident Brooke Robinson has been hunting morels since the age of six.

Brooke agreed to take CBC’s Mike Evans to his family’s ancestral morel, only if he agreed not to disclose the location to others.

After a short hike in the forest, Brooke spotted morels with a keen eye. In less than an hour, he had managed to locate and pick a dozen beautiful mushrooms.

Morels shrink a bit after cooking. (Mike Evans / CBC)

Robinson said that one of the secrets to locating morels is to look closely at fallen and rotten trees. Another tip is that you have to be patient.

“If you find one, there’s a good chance there are more nearby,” he said.

Morel season is only here for a short time; they come up from the ground at the beginning of May and in a few weeks they will have rotted or been eaten by the deer.

Cooking Tips

Once your morels are picked, the next step is to let them soak in water for about an hour. Morels can have bugs inside and if you leave them in the water it will kill the bugs.

After soaking, dry them with a towel and hand clean any remaining dirt or sand.

Then cut them in half or in quarters, depending on their size.

Once cut, place them in a pan over medium heat and add the butter and garlic.

Fry the morels until they turn dark brown around the edges. You will notice that they shrink a bit when fried.

“They make a great appetizer and pair really well with a steak,” said Robinson.

Safety first

A safety note for foragers: It goes without saying, but many species of wild mushrooms are poisonous. AOntario Public Health Report 2019 said more than 1,000 calls have been made to the Ontario Poison Control Center due to the consumption of mushrooms in a recent five-year period.

“There are no simple tests to determine if a fungus is poisonous. Safe consumption of wild mushrooms and other wild foods requires that they be correctly identified by knowledgeable pickers,” the report said.

Although the morel has a distinctive appearance, its appearance is not unique to the mushroom world. This web pagefrom the state of Michigandescribes some lookalikes of unavailable morels.

“False morels should be considered poisonous and not eaten,” the website states.

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