Hunting Morel Mushrooms is a cherished pastime for locals in Eastern Oregon. They are known for their extremely delicious flavor that consists of a smoky and steak-like taste. Known as a delicacy all over the world, you can find them all over the Blue Mountains.
Local Lisa Goben said: â€œIt’s a great way to spend time with friends and family. It’s an activity that anyone with a decent eye can do, and you get great tasting food.â€
Morels can be very deceiving. They tend to follow climate patterns, which effect their elevation at different points of time. Now is a bit early with snow being a constant threat to them, but occasionally at the right elevation they can be found.
The mushrooms will start low in elevation once the weather is a little warmer. The sun helps them to â€œpop.â€ As the warmer weather heads higher in elevation the morels will do the same.
Good places to look are old burn patches in woody areas, on old logging grounds, and in pine needles.
Keep a close eye to the floor of the forest. Morels can range from looking dark brown to black, green, tan, and blonde. Many morels have simply been walked on by impatient foragers.
Remember false morels or calf brain mushrooms are in abundance in these areas as well. Some scientists claim them to be poisonous and possibly deadly, many people believe it to be a myth and eat them anyway. Just as a fair warning, do your research before entering the field.
Make sure to clip the mushrooms at the bottom of the stem. Do not â€œup-rootâ€ them; this can damage the mycelium, or root system, that connects many different fruiting mushrooms.
Place them in a bag; make sure no holes are made in the sack while walking through the forest. It is extremely annoying to return to the vehicle to find an empty satchel.
I personally carry a firearm while foraging. The cougar populations are very high, and when starving are known to attack people. Please be safe.
Also, do not get lost. The Blue Mountains are easy to get turned around in because much of the vegetation looks the same.
Once you have collected a decent amount of morels, even a handful can make a nice side to a dinner, you need to clean them. Soaking in water works best for the deep crevices, but air blowing can do an OK job.
If you to want to preserve them for longer than a week, freezing works, but dehydrating them works best to retain the taste.
To prepare, sautÃ©ed in butter and oil generally is the household medium. Some people stuff them with mozzarella or ground beef. Either way, you will enjoy. Have fun and be safe. Remember do not eat any mushroom or fungus without positively identify it.