There’s gold in them there Morrison County hills
Friday, July 07, 2017
“It truly is a hunt,” 63-year-old Tom LaFond said as he led the way on the woodland trail, a few miles west of Royalton, one spring morning. He was stalking coveted, golden, morel mushrooms in hilly woodlands near the Mississippi River. The morel (pronounced muh-rel) is a hard-to-find, gourmet delight.
The morel’s unique flavor is prized by chefs worldwide, and they are reputed to be best when fresh.
MorelMasters, an online store, is currently offering frozen morel mushrooms for $34.95 per pound, retail, plus shipping. About a pound of just-picked morels would fill a gallon milk jug.
“That’s a poor way (freezing) to save them,” LaFond said. He recommends drying them, if a person is lucky enough to find more than they can eat while fresh. For comparison, he said, “Byerly’s (grocery store) sells dried morels for about $20 per ounce.”
How does he find the gold-capped, white-stemmed morels that blend into the forest so well? Some days, he may see nothing more than little humps under the ground’s fallen leaf cover. He may come back to those another day. Later, they could be a foot tall.
When a person finds even one little morel, or are near a dying or dead elm, they need to step even more carefully. Where there’s one, often more are near.
LaFond often gets down on one knee and gently brushes leaves and twigs aside when a spot seems right. He has an experienced eye.