STAFF SPOTLIGHT Q&A:
MEET JONATHON! ANN ARBOR ARMS RANGE SAFETY OFFICER | MOREL MUSHROOM HUNTER EXTRAORDINAIRE
Q: Jonathon, what do you love most about the hunt for Morels?
A: The thing I love most about Morel hunting is being outdoors with family and friends.
Q: When is the best time of year to look for Morel mushrooms?
A: Michigan weather is unpredictable as we all know, and if it's a cold spring, you can expect it to be a later Morel season. For perfect conditions, you want a lot of rain followed by some sunny/warm days. If it's raining for a few days, then a sunny 70 degree day follows, I will be in the woods shortly after, looking for them.
I found mushrooms this year early in April but generally the best time is the last week of April or the first week of May. By that time of year, we are past those cold winter days and have had some good showers and warm days for those Morels to grow. You don't want to wait too long because once the under-canopy starts to grow up, it blocks out the sunlight for the Morels. Once we get close to June and the forest floor is covered, it becomes really hard to find them.
Q: What's your favorite recipe using Morels or your favorite way to cook them up?
A: My favorite way to prepare them is to let them soak in some water with sea salt. The next step is to cook the mushrooms on low heat to get the water out of them. I then drain the water from the pan. Next, I add some butter, garlic salt and pepper, turn up the heat to medium and cook them until they brown up.
Q: Who in your life taught you how to spot them?
A: I taught myself from reading articles in magazines and just walking in the woods a lot. I have learned from trial and error over the years.
Q: Where are the easiest places to find Morels (or what type of environment do they grow best in)?
A: I typically have the best luck in open, mature hardwoods. I have heard that near dead ash or elm trees are the best, but for me, I have never had much luck. In my spots there are a lot of live elms and I can usually find mushrooms not far form their bases. Also, southern-facing slopes are the best and where you typically can find the most Morels.
Q: How do you determine false vs. real Morels? The best way to determine a false Morel vs. a real one is to cut it in half vertically. These are the things to look for in a real Morel: cap is usually longer than the stem, the bottom of the cap is attached to the stem. The mushroom is one piece and hollow all the way from the cap to the stem For false Morels the cap is smaller than the stem. The cap attaches to very top of the stem. The best way i can tell is when you cut a false Morel the cap and stem do not appear to be one piece and is not hollow all the way through.