Collecting, prepping and cooking

Guidelines for collecting and eating wild mushrooms:

  • Pick only one kind at a time. Don’t mix two or more species.
  • Cook and eat only one kind at a time, and test each new kind cautiously (a couple of bites). All mushrooms, including the varieties grown commercially, contain substances which provoke allergic reactions in some people. Be especially careful if you have any history of allergies to fruits, vegetables or grains.
  • Don’t assume that, because you can safely eat a particular species of mushroom, all members of your family or your friends can. Individual allergic reactions vary.
  • For eating, select only fresh young mushrooms that show no wormholes or other obvious damage.
  • If the worst should happen and you become ill after eating mushrooms, seek medical aid promptly.

Morel preparation and cooking:

  • Don't expect morels to taste like supermarket mushrooms. They have a distinct flavor unlike any other. The flavor is delicate and easily diminished by overcooking or overseasoning.
  • The best method of preparation is also the simplest. Clean the morels carefully; if you wash them, blot them dry with paper towels. Cut off stems and slice the caps in half lengthwise. Melt a generous amount of butter or margarine in a frying pan, put in enough morel halves to cover the bottom of the pan, and salt lightly. Sauté about five minutes on each side, and serve immediately.
  • Morels also can be creamed, stewed or otherwise used in recipes that call for mushrooms. They can be preserved by drying according to methods you can find in cookbooks. Some people claim success in freezing morels as a means of preserving them for eating later.
  • Morel stems are tough, but they can be chopped finely and used to flavor soups and gravies.

Remember: Morels found on public land are for personal use only and cannot be sold. The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development has a curriculum to train and certify foragers who commercially harvest and sell wild mushrooms in Michigan.