Morel mushroom madness triggers warning from field specialists

Morel mushrooms are popping up all over the region according to enthusiasts.

Posted: Apr. 19, 2019 6:44 PM
Updated: Apr. 19, 2019 7:13 PM

(ST. JOSEPH, Mo) An active winter season lead to the perfect set up for a boom of Morel mushrooms around the region.

it's kind of something you do in the spring," Tom Fowler, the field specialist Missouri Extension said. "You get out and you hunt for some mushrooms."

Mushroom enthusiasts said this year is shaping up to be an exceptional one for the mushroom in the middle part of the country. For some, mushroom hunting has been a life long hobby.

"I started mushroom hunting when I was 3 with my dad," Thomas Weipert, mushroom hunter said.  Weipert said the fungi is also somewhat of a delicacy, adding that they're often sought out for the taste and texture. 

"I started cooking at 15," Weipert said. "That’s kinda what really got me into it," Weipert said morel mushrooms have a sweet flavor, they carmelize well, and they go good with steak.

For those planning on going on a mushroom hunt, field specialists have a warning for those in our area over which places should be avoided. 

Fowler said hunters should avoid searching for mushrooms in areas recently hit by flooding.

"Our recommendations for any edible crop is if it’s been in or near floodwater we recommend not to eat it this year," Fowler said. 

Fowler said it can be hard to tell what’s been carried in the water and later washed into the soil mushrooms are now growing in. He warns of the risk of bacterial as well as chemical contamination.

"Mushrooms grow from the roots up," Weipert said.  "They grow from the ground and they suck a lot of toxins, I'd be leery of river bottom mushrooms especially from the Missouri River this year."

Aside from those areas, enthusiasts say there are plenty of places people can go to begin their search. like wooded areas near trees.

Weipert recommends hunters to always cook their mushrooms if planning to consume to eliminate the risk of getting sick. 

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