I will preface this article by quoting from the one lesson I clearly recall from high school biology class, The only mushroom you can be sure is safe is the one you buy at the grocery store. For the most part, Ive heeded that advice, and advise all you readers to do the same. It is true that there are deadly mushrooms, so if you arent absolutely sure a mushroom is edible, dont eat it! If you have any doubt, consult an expert. SouthernIN.com writers are not experts.
That said, living in Southern Indiana its easy to catch morel madness come spring. Morel mushrooms are some of the tastiest morsels known to man or woman, and spring brings thousands of mushroom hunters into the woods with their eyes glued to the ground. With the warm weather weve had this year, morels have already been found. So if you are an avid mushroom hunter, its time to get out!
Some people are just good mushroom hunters while others just arent. It takes practice and a distinguishing eye. A novice can tromp over a whole patch and never see one mushroom. In our first year, my husband and I spent hours on end, day after day diligently hunting. We found locations that seemed ideal, and still we usually went home empty-handed. By last year we were thrilled to shout out, Heres one! And another.. and another! Because as they say, if you find one there have to be more.
Where to Look
A sloping hillside is also good, especially one that faces south, or along paths, fence rails, abandoned orchards and abandoned railroad beds. You get the idea - just about anywhere! My sister even found a huge yellow morel right in her manicured yard next to a downspout, where there were no dead trees or hillsides in sight. Another thing to consider is to not follow the advice of a good mushroom hunter. Most of the best hunters will never reveal their secret spots. I know of one man who always brings home a championship crop, but says hell carry his secret to his grave. Not even his children know his secret spot.
This time of year its common to see cars pulled off the road beside parks and forests with folks scouring the woods for these edible treasures. Ive even seen people searching, bags in hand, in clumps of trees in the median along Interstate 70. Be sure to ask permission before mushroom hunting on somebody elses property.
If mushroom hunting sounds fun, visit one of these Southern Indiana mushroom festivals. Even if you dont find any you can still get a taste, or even buy some to take home and enjoy.
6th Annual Morel Madness, in Metamora April 29th and 30th. Prizes awarded for largest and most morels each weekend. $15 entry fee includes t-shirt and meal. Everyone is invited to participate in the greased pig contest and chicken hypnotizing. Call 765-647-2109 for more info.
Mansfield Village Mushroom Festival/Car Show in Mansfield, Parke County, April 29th and 30th. Mushroom hunt and auction, and biggest mushroom contest. Also arts, crafts, country food. Car show Sunday only. Free tours through Mansfield roller mill. 8am-5pm. No admission charge. 765-653-4026.
All Feature Articles, artwork and photographs © 2000 by Southernin.com. Some information on the 'County Info' pages is taken directly from brochures published by Visitors Bureaus and Chambers of Commerce.