No need to wait for Autumn to hunt for wild mushrooms here in Switzerland. As early as March you can search for one of the most beloved mushrooms in Switzerland, the Morels! Another reason to look forward for Spring!
Many years ago, a friend asked me if I wanted to have a walk in the forest to search for some Morels. I knew they were mushrooms, I have seen dried one in the grocery stores, but I thought that mushrooms only grow in Autumn and we were only in April. As I never say no for a walk, I tagged along with her to the forest near Morges. I was quite curious to see and find these spring wild mushrooms fresh! And did we not only find quite a lot, we (I blink blink) found the biggest one my friend has ever seen!
But before everything else, I must say that I am not an expert of picking wild mushrooms of any kind! I just want to put it out there for you to know the existence of morels, and with this post I hope that every time you have a spring walk in the forest you will have an eye open for the sponge looking spring mushroom, morel!
When and where do they grow?
Morels are everywhere and are impossible to find, as the expression goes.
Depending of the weather, morels can be found as early as March to early June. The appearance of the first buds of Ash or Hazel trees and also the flowering of the hyacinth are good signs for when to start looking for them. A winter with much snow and the rapid increase of temperature after a period of cold that creates a lot of humidity in the soil, are favorable factors of the growth of morels. They like to grow on the sunny places at the edge of the forest area and along the creeks. They also like to live around dead and dying trees. They can also be found in terrain recently burned by fire.
If you ask any passionate morel hunter, it is rare they will tell you their secret morel spots! If you find a good spot, the chances are big that it might be someone else favorite spot so hit that place as soon as possible again next year! Although, it is not a garanti that they will come back every year.
You can find morels along a creek.
You can find morels at the edge of the forest.
A giant morel, the biggest of the year in Switzerland?
Why are morels expensive?
A 40 gr bag of dried morel in Coop and Migros cost about 20 chf! Why are they so expensive? Morels are hard to cultivate and are difficult to replicate in an artificial environment. Therefore much of the morels that we can find fresh or dried in the markets are wild hand picking mushrooms.
Picking mushrooms is not without a risk!
These two mushrooms are so-called False morels and for beginner it might be a problem to distinguish the differences between a true and a false morel. Just be careful!
The both pictures are from Here. And from the same site you can read more about how to identificate a false morel.
How to cook them?
First of all, you should never eat a morel raw as they contain a mildly toxic substance, which is destroyed in cooking. Other than that, they are delicious and for many chef morels are considered to be one of the luxury ingredients to cook with! I have never cook them fresh but I have many time use them dried and soaked them in water before use. I use them especially for a lip-smacking yummy creamy sauce or in risotto.
WARNING! PLEASE, protect yourself from the nasty ticks! Spray yourself and your family with ticks repellent because the diseases are for real!
Interested of picking more wild mushrooms? Read about our experience Here!
We did a lot of mushroom hunting last summer and autumn!