Larry decided to go into the woods Sunday afternoon in search of one of his springtime wild food favorites--mollymoochers, known to most people as morel mushrooms. I thought he was too early, but apparently he picked exactly the right day.
I'm sure there are probably more elaborate ways to prepare morels but I do them the way Larry showed me: soak them in cold salt water for at least an hour to drive out any hiding bugs. Then wash, drain, cut in half, dredge in flour and fry in hot oil. When done, the mushrooms are light, crunchy and mildly flavored. Some people think they taste like fish, hence another nickname, wild fish. To me, they are just delicious with a flavor all their own. (I do wonder how they would taste dipped in Sweet Vidalia Onion sauce, though).
A plateful of delight, and this is only half of what Larry brought home.
Where do they grow? Generally, we find them in moist, rich woodland soil and deep shade. The tops appear in early Spring, and in our area only last a few weeks before they're gone--some years we don't find any, either because we were too late, looking in the wrong place or the weather wasn't favorable so there just weren't any. The ice storm of 2003 seemed to have a negative impact on the place we usually hunt for mushrooms, because so many trees fell it changed the conditions of the forest floor from heavily shaded to only partial shade.
Tonight I've been reading about how to freeze morels--I'm optimistic! We may get enough this year to keep a few for winter use. Wouldn't that be a treat!