5 Tricks to Finding Morel Mushrooms

Handfull of Large Morel Mushrooms

Morel Mushrooms have an earthy flavor, a great texture and are a fantastic addition to any meal. They are a delicacy that can cost upwards of $50/lb. in the off season and can only be found by foraging for them in the Spring. This guide will help you have success in your hunting adventures.

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Morel Mushrooms

Different morel mushroom sizes

Morel mushrooms are great for the beginner interested in foraging for wild mushrooms. They easy to identify and flourish in the Spring for a few weeks every year, although the exact date varies significantly based on moisture and temperature levels. They also happen to be Minnesota’s state mushroom, which always gives me a proud moment.

The mushrooms shown above, with a distinctive conical shape and honeycomb texture are safe. They also have a shorter stem and are completely hollow on the inside. There are a few mildly toxic False Morels for which to watch out. The other morel types are the Half-Free Morel and Common False Morel which I  consider poisonous and not recommend eating. They are not completely hollow all the way through the morel- the half morel’s stem and cap are both hollow, but where the stem and cap meet it is not. A great diagram of the three morels can be found here with photos of the morels cut in half for identification help.

Finding morels is not an exact science as they throw curve balls quite frequently, but over the years I’ve discovered a few tricks that get me started every season and then I just keep looking from there.

A trick I have learned is that if you carry along a mesh bag like this one when you’re out hunting it will allow the mushroom spores to fall back onto the soil as you hunt (and hopefully grow into next season’s morels!)

Disclaimer: It’s always good to start foraging with a trusted mushroom guide. There are a few variations of false morels that are mildly toxic. Plus there are a lot of poisonous mushrooms out there. If you have any doubt about a mushroom don’t keep it and definitely don’t eat it.

5 Tricks to Finding Morel Mushrooms

Finding Morels

1. Get out and look often.

Morel season is very short, usually a span of 1 week, two weeks at most. You could miss out on the morels for the season if you’re not out there looking starting in late April (for Minnesota) and checking every few days.

Things to pay attention to are the amount of moisture in the area. The temperatures- if it’s been consistently warmer than 60 degrees for a week with lots of moisture in the soil then it’s time to start looking. They usually start to appear just as the blood-root flower starts to disappear.

2. Search in wooded areas with dead trees.

Hidden morel mushrooms in plain sight

Morels tend to sprout off of the roots of dead and dying elm trees, although they will grow amongst other dead trees as well- as long as the nutrients are there. Elm tree roots can go far, so don’t forget to canvas an entire area for morels.

3. Check your southern exposure hillside slopes.

Morels tend to grow larger on the southern exposure slopes. They are usually anywhere from the top of the slope to about the middle, any further down and your chances of finding them diminishes- if you’re hunting early in the season.

Correction: While the above is still true I had an astute reader point out to me that this is also quite misleading. Morel mushrooms do grow everywhere and you will find them at the bottom of hills, on low, lands and every single side slope you can imagine! 

Depending on the morel mushroom season you will find morels in different spots. As was commented below, the ground temperatures are going warm at different rates and that’ll greatly pay into where the mushrooms are. So key take-away is that it’s important to always keep your eyes open and watch your step!

4. Where there is one there are more.

Morel Mushrooms together in a bunch - always look for more

You finally found a morel mushroom! Whoo hoo. At first glance it appears that there is only one there, but if you get down close to the ground you almost guarantee will find more. Some may be hidden beneath leaves or other plants, or they may be so small that you’ll want to come back for them in a day or two.

When you find a good spot with lots of morels it feels a little bit like hitting the jackpot- only more fulfilling!

Huge Morel

5. Come prepared.

Dress appropriately for walking through the woods. Wear long pants- jeans are best and long sleeved shirts. They will prevent you from getting scratched up by weeds and branches. Spray your shoes and lower pants with lots of bug spray to prevent wood ticks- and tucking your pants into your socks does wonders to keep off extra deer and wood ticks. This time of year is when they are at their worst and with Lyme disease rates on the rise it’s important that you take every precaution to protect yourselves.

Bring Mesh Bags. The trick with bags is to bring ones that will hold the morels, but let the spores from the mushrooms fall out as you walk. Spores are how new morels get ‘planted’ so you definitely want to be dispersing them back into the world. A morel hunting bag would be perfect- like something you would take to the beach. Don’t use a plastic bag.

Mushroom knife of some sort so that you don’t risk pulling the “roots” of the mushroom out from the ground. Anything that might help them return the next year in the same spot is definitely in your best interest!

Note: there are false morel variations that are mildly toxic so always use an identification manual such as this one when not sure.

Cleaned Morel Mushrooms

Bonus- Clean and Eat your Morels. Or Save them for another day by dehydrating them.

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Guide for how to find and hunting morel mushrooms perfect - tricks and tips so you can find enough to cook fresh as well as dehydrate some for later!

22 Thoughts on “5 Tricks to Finding Morel Mushrooms

  1. Pingback: Find the Elusive Morel Mushroom | Seeking the Wild Edible | Pickles Travel

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  3. Morris SonsNo Gravatar on December 15, 2016 at 2:34 am said:

    Can morels be found in the Philippines or the Asian areas?

    • Greta AlmsNo Gravatar on December 15, 2016 at 4:37 pm said:

      Morris- that is a fantastic question and unfortunately one to which I do not know the answer. I believe you can find morels in Europe, but it might be too far south in the Philippines. I tried to do some digging into it but nothing came up saying a definitive “no” but I also didn’t find anything saying that you could find them either… Give it a try in the spring and let me know how it goes!!

  4. How long do they keep and can they be preserved somehow?

    • Greta AlmsNo Gravatar on December 30, 2016 at 2:02 pm said:

      Great question Kelly! It depends on how big they are, but usually they will last 3 to 6 days- depending on humidity in your home. They can last a little over a week if you keep them in the fridge. You can preserve morels by drying them. I use a dehydrator, but it also works to place them in a paper bag in the refrigerator. I wrote this post: https://picklestravel.com/how-to-make-dehydrated-morel-mushrooms/ on dehydrating them, if that helps?
      Good Luck!

  5. MaggieNo Gravatar on April 1, 2017 at 10:45 am said:

    A lot of the photographs show beefsteak and false morels- very misleading

    • Greta AlmsNo Gravatar on April 1, 2017 at 10:48 am said:

      Actually they are all true morels Maggie. I ate every single one of them. Sorry the photos make them look otherwise.

  6. SheilaNo Gravatar on April 1, 2017 at 11:21 am said:

    I found so many one year and hated for them to waste. I put them in the dehydrater. They shrunk to nothing. I stored them in a canning jar. When I wanted mushrooms, I’d drop them in milk and they’d spring into shape like I found them that very day! Delectable!

    • Greta AlmsNo Gravatar on April 1, 2017 at 11:29 am said:

      I love dehydrating morels! I never thought of using milk to rehydrate them, Sheila- what a great idea! Especially if you’re making a gravy or something!

  7. SheilaNo Gravatar on April 1, 2017 at 11:26 am said:

    I don’t salt the water I soak mushrooms in. I then take the water outside and pour it under the pine trees. Mushrooms started to emerge from that spot the next year. So save the spores!

    • Greta AlmsNo Gravatar on April 1, 2017 at 11:31 am said:

      I’ve wanted to try this to see if it worked but never have- now I have to try it! Love the idea of having some ability to “plant” them!! Great tips, Thank you so much Sheila!!

  8. MonicaNo Gravatar on April 6, 2017 at 12:02 am said:

    Found 126 small to mediums this last Saturday here in KS! Hope to find even more next Saturday!

    • Greta AlmsNo Gravatar on April 6, 2017 at 6:54 am said:

      Monica that is amazing! I’m so jealous! MN probably won’t have any for almost another month. Yum! How are you going to make them?

  9. Jim LiddicoatNo Gravatar on April 17, 2017 at 1:52 pm said:

    Hoping to get out South of Minneapolis in the coming weekends. Things are really starting to green up so I’m hoping to find my first Morel soon!

    • Greta AlmsNo Gravatar on April 19, 2017 at 7:50 pm said:

      Good luck Jim! Let me know when you do (just in case I haven’t found any yet- it’ll make me up my game!)

  10. Great info! I found five black morels popping up in a bunch of potted plants about two weeks ago, I was amazed! I felt like a morel farmer…

  11. PaulNo Gravatar on May 5, 2017 at 3:22 pm said:

    Great summary, but your 3rd point is way off…

    Morels grow on the bottom of hills just as the do on the tops. They might fruit at different times due to ground temps. Morels also do not grow bigger on south facing slopes… They do commonly grow their first as that hillside gets the most sun exposure.

    • Greta AlmsNo Gravatar on May 5, 2017 at 3:26 pm said:

      Thanks so much for the feedback Paul. You are absolutely right that morels can be found just about everywhere, depending on the time. I will re-read and ,are corrections- I think initially when I wrote this I was trying to make it easier for those looking earlier in the season, as I’m always out way too early and there is never anything at the bottom until weeks later… Anyway, fixing now! Thanks and I hope you continue to enjoy, read and correct me, if need be :-)

  12. J.A.No Gravatar on May 8, 2017 at 12:25 am said:

    This is my first year hunting no luck yet on day two seems like everyone else is getting them so hopefully soon.

    • Greta AlmsNo Gravatar on May 10, 2017 at 10:21 am said:

      Are you in MN or where JA? I know our season is just blowing up now here, so hopefully you were just too early and now are enjoying all the fun!

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