Morel mushroom hunting minnesota

Minnesota State Mushroom: Morel Mushroom Hunting Minnesota

Though Lake of the Woods is known for fishing, there’s another season that has Minnesotan foodies setting on a hunt through the woods for spring’s most exciting forage food – morel mushrooms! Morel mushroom hunting Minnesota forestry is a popular activity that many locals can’t wait to indulge in. Grab your hiking boots and mushroom picking gear, and head for the woods to hunt for Morels!

Morel Hunting Minnesota

The morel mushroom is known as Minnesota’s state mushroom, and there is good reason for that. Abundantly found from late April to early June, depending on how the weather cooperates. Warmer springs will have an earlier season, where colder springs will tend to bring a later season as the ground stays frozen longer. 

When morel mushroom hunting in Minnesota, there are a few things that you need to know before setting out. There are a few different types of morels: the black morel, yellow morel, and half-free morel. Though many areas have a season of April through May, northern Minnesota can typically find morels into June as spring begins a little later up here. 

Morel mushroom hunting minnesotaYellow Morels- 

The smallest of the morel family, the yellow morel is identifiable by having light creamy-colored stem and cap with ridges that almost resemble a very porous sponge. They will have caps that curve under, connecting to a hollow stem. These little guys can be very small, but are well-liked because of their taste when used in recipes. These are most commonly found in April early May.

Black Morels- 

Black morel mushrooms can be identified by their darker brown, almost black appearing,spore ridges and caps. They tend to have stems that are a darker shade of brown when they are later in maturity, and have the classic hollow stems that true morels exhibit. These mushrooms are most likely to be spotted in the earlier portion of the morel season from mid-March through April.

Half-Free Morels- 

Though the name is a little odd, it’s called the half-free morel because of the fact that their caps tend to form more of a skirt around the stem. The stems grow longer with a smaller cap and the ridges on the cap tend to look almost like the surface of a brain. Other morels have deeper holes across their caps, but half-free morels aren’t as deep and the insides don’t have much of a “chamber” present. They are typically lighter on the bottom and darker towards their tops with a light cream-colored, hollow stem. These can be found as early as March but can be most abundantly found later in the season through May. 

Safety Tip When Morel Mushroom Hunting Minnesota

Morels can be a tasty addition to any meal, but you always want to make sure that what you are harvesting is, indeed, a true morel. There are false morels that grow in the area, and the most prominent dead giveaway is that they won’t have a hollow stem. If the stem is not hollow, it is most-likely poisonous.

Where to Find Morel Mushrooms in Minnesota – Lake of the Woods

Morel mushroom hunting minnesotaNow, you know what you are looking for and you are ready to get out and start morel mushroom hunting Minnesota! But, where do you find morel mushrooms in Minnesota? First, you want to find a place that is open to the public to explore in wooded areas. Unless you know someone with private property that personally allows you access, definitely stick to public access areas. There are many state and national forests that allow foraging. In the Lake of the Woods area, you can hunt for morels at the Beltrami Island State Forest, which includes Zippel Bay State Park, and Pine Island State Forest. Between these two forest areas alone, there is a little over 1.5 million acres of forest available for open foraging.

Morels love the rain, so a wet spring means fantastic hunting conditions. When morel mushroom hunting Minnesota forests, you will want to look for a few favored trees that morels tend to be particularly fond of: cottonwood, oak,ash, apple, poplar, and elm. They are most abundant around large downed trees that provide them plenty of nutrients, and prefer south-facing slopes. Areas with plant cover and loamy soil that hold plenty of moisture are going to be hot spots. If there is a water source like a river, stream, pond, or lake nearby, morels are likely not far away. Another important thing to note is that there are quite a few people that look for morels throughout the season and they prefer mostly untouched soil, so you won’t have much luck if you stick to trails. Have a plan for going off trail. Nobody wants to be lost in the woods, there’s movies about that.

Minnesota State Mushroom: Find it, Cook it, Eat it!

Foraging is a fantastic way to find nutrient rich food that tastes great and is more fun to find than spending an arm and a leg at the farmer’s market. Morel mushrooms are one of Minnesota’s most popular foraging menu items, and it’s pretty easy to tell how it was decided as our state mushroom. So, how do you harvest and enjoy these tasty little mushrooms? Well, we’ve got some pointers!

Harvesting Morel Mushrooms

Once you find morels, they are typically going to be found in patches that spread across a decent sized area, but have also been found in small groups. When harvesting morels, you want to cut the mushroom above the ground with a knife. This will leave the roots and help spread spores for more to come back the next year. Some shake the mushroom a bit to leave spores in the area as well. You never want to pick every mushroom in the patch as it will hinder how they come back in the next season. It’s always important to be mindful of nature and making sure you a foraging responsibly so that Mother Nature can keep doing her thing. You can use a plastic bag to collect if you don’t have anything else (just make sure it comes home with you), or you can find netted bags like those that onions and garlic come in at the store. Those bags are actually great because as you are walking around, you’re dropping more spores and actually spreading more mushrooms! 

Preparing Morels

Morels are most enjoyed when cooked. You will want to wash them and most people will either cut them in half or in quarters from the top of the cap to the bottom of the stem. The most popular way of preparing mushrooms is throwing them in a pan with a bit of olive oil and your favorite seasonings or just some salt and pepper to fry until they are nice and soft. You can also add them into alfredo dishes, spaghetti, top chicken or steak with them, and pretty much substitute them in for any other mushroom dish you can think of. They are very versatile and go great with just about anything you cook. 

Get Out and Discover Morel Season in Minnesota!

Morel Mushroom hunting Minnesota forests is a staple of spring, and is something that forage-fanatics and foodies alike should try out. You get to experience the beautiful wilderness of the north, enjoy getting out into nature, and experience a taste of native Minnesota foods. You can stay with us at River Bend Resort in Baudette, MN where both of the forest areas listed above are just a stone’s throw away. Head out for a day of hunting, come back to your cabin to cook them up, and even get in a bit of fishing while you’re here! It doesn’t get more Minnesotan than that!


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