Dramas, Fairs and Festivals
Applications for the Dramas, Fairs and Festivals grants for this quarter are due in the Extension Office by May 1. If you have any questions or need an application form, please call the office at 340-799-4852.
Pocahontas Producers Spring Sale Schedule
Regular Sale – Saturday, May 23, 2 p.m.
Regular Sale – Saturday, June 20 – 2 p.m
Hunting for Morel Mushrooms
By Alex Straight, WVU Extension Service Ritchie and Doddridge County agriculture agent
Hunting the elusive morel mushroom is half sport and half art form. Much like fishing or other outdoor activities, nature isn’t always on your side when starting the hunt. Outdoor enthusiasts will tell you that it’s that very fact that makes the hunt for morel mushrooms so much fun! If it was as easy as going to the store it would not be as exhilarating. There is great thrill and excitement to poking through the woods and searching through trees and underbrush in search of the tasty morel.
Where you find one morel, you’re likely to find several growing nearby. This is because the mushroom has an underground root system that relies on the proper conditions to flourish.
Moisture, temperature, and other factors dictate when and if the mushroom will “pop.” Depending on the conditions, an area that is dense with mushrooms one year might bear none the following year.
Morel mushrooms typically start popping in April when the temperatures climb into 60s during the day and are no colder than the 40s at night.
The best time to start your hunt is right after a rain. Look near streams and riverbeds, in wooded areas, around fallen timber that has been decaying, and around brambles and thick brush.
Take a mesh bag, like you would use for onions or potatoes, when you hunt for mushrooms. This is very important because morels spread thru spores, which shake loose as they are jostled about. The mesh allows the spores to fall to the ground and will encourage more mushrooms in the future.
Most important, make sure you know exactly which mushroom you are looking for. Take an identification guide book with you. Only pick and eat mushrooms that have been definitely identified as morel mushrooms. There are many poisonous mushrooms and this part of the process should not be taken lightly. When in doubt, don’t eat the mushroom; leave it in the forest or check with an expert in the field.
Morel storage tips from the University of Alaska Cooperative Extension Service:
· Wipe mushrooms gently with a damp cloth or soft brush to remove dirt, debris and insects.
· Refrigerate debugged mushrooms between 34– 35°F. Wrap them in a paper bag or waxed paper. Nonporous plastic bags are not the best choice as plastic accelerates mushroom deterioration.
· Do not wash morels before storage. Mushrooms absorb water and the additional water will hasten deterioration. Mushrooms may absorb odors if stored near foods like onions.
· Refrigerated, fresh mushrooms will keep for two-to-three days. For longer storage, mushrooms should be frozen or dried.