The Morel Report

April 28th, 2009

This winter we have been slowly finishing our basement.  The Country Doctor did all the wiring, and right now we are in the passionate throes of sheetrock.  A man, whom I will refer to as ‘Mr. Morel’ has been installing ‘the rock’ for the past two weeks.  When he is not hanging sheetrock in our basement, he is a passionate morel hunter.  Every day when he arrives at our house, he gives me the daily morel report.  He tells me how many he has found, what his hunting conditions were the night before, how many beers he drank while he hunted them, how he has to sneak into some places while people are at work so they don’t know he is on their property finding mushrooms, and whether or not  he thinks there will be good hunting after he gets off work.  He won’t tell me where he finds the mushrooms, but I know he takes the same route everyday.   A few days ago, he had a good haul and he brought me some to try.  I have never had a morel before.  He told me exactly what to do to store and prepare the mushrooms.  I followed his directions precisely.

I placed the morels in a dish of water in my refrigerator and changed the dirty water several times.  One time, I found a roly poly in the water.  This made me not want to eat the morels at all, but then I remembered that I have a blog.  What is a little rolypoly in your food compared to having nothing interesting to write about on your blog? 

So I dumped out the rolypoly, added new water, tried to clear my mind of thoughts of rolypolys in my food and went out and bought a box of saltines.


This is how ‘Mr. Morel’ told me to fix the mushrooms.



Crackers, eggs, butter, morels (with rolypolys removed).


Look morel over closely for any more rolypolys.







Swallow hard and continue with recipe.





Smash crackers.






Mix in eggs.






Try not to think about rolypolys.











Fry in butter.






Force children to eat them first.






Force children to write their thoughts about eating rolypolys… I mean MORELS!






They didn’t hate them.

They also did not love them.

The morels tasted like eggs and mushrooms.

I can not imagine EVER hiking through a bog to find one.

But that is just me… 

As far as I am concerned…

The rolypolys can have them!


  • Liz:

    I have never eaten a morel, but my husband thinks they are delicious. I live in the mountains of NC and morels, when available, are sold at the farmer’s market for $40 a pound! That is some kind of money for a mushroom that tastes like……..a mushroom!!

  • Come on. Get rid of the fake butter and go 100%.

  • jean:

    She has a whole post on these guys. I don’t care for mushrooms but she makes them sound really good.

    And I have to agree, get 100% real butter.

  • Put some salt in the water and you’ll really scare everything out of there.

    We got them thar mushrooms in the mountains here too. My brother took my little guys out last year hunting for them. I prepared some and ate my first from what they brought back. You really don’t need the eggs or crackers.

    I thought they tasted okay. No swooning. My brother took a bagful to a local restaurant where they paid good money for them.

    I’m just not a mushroom person.

    Good post though!

  • They are just too scary looking for me. I think they sell something similar on the sponge docks. ;)

  • I love that you made you children try these first and write down their reviews!!

  • Theresa in Alberta:

    I agree with the boys, but I give them 100 percent for even trying those..those.. fungus thingy’s. such brave soldiers.

  • flutterby:

    Sorry your morel experience was a disappointment. Yes, they do look funny but morels can be one of the foods of the gods. I’ve only tasted morels grown in France so the American ones may have a different flavor.

    I agree with Clayvessel – soak the morels in salted water to get rid of the intruders. Then after a thorough rinsing, cut them up (or not depending on the size) and just saute them gently in 100% butter. Maybe a little salt. A little cream can also be added. Wonderful with steak.

  • Girl- you just made the entire state of Iowa sit up and take notice. You dissed their beloved mushroom :)

    I’m a southern girl who married an Iowa boy. I’ve never ate a morel mushroom but EVERYONE in Iowa simply gushes with awe/reverence when they talk about morel mushrooms.

    I just finished a book “Little Heathens – Hard times & High Spirits on an Iowa Farm during the Great Depression.” The author has an entire section dedicated to morel mushrooms! She included a recipe for morels that had my mouth watering. It involved lots of butter and a light dusting of flour. She does not recommend soaking the mushrooms because they absorb water and it changes their texture and taste.

    Smart girl to get your guys to try it first. My 3 boys aren’t quite as adventurous. I would literally have to twist their arms to eat a mushroom.

  • my son was just out hunting for some of these yesterday. my husband, son and daughter love them. me, i just cook them. i am with calder on these!

  • Diane:

    LOVE mushrooms. I never hunted them as you have to know which ones are non-poisonous and meant for human consumption but they are delish when prepared correctly. I’ll have to ask my Mom how she (and everyone else at home) fixes them. I do remember that the stem wasn’t cut off as that’s what you grabbed them by if you ate them as “finger food”. Also they were never cut up . . . always left whole. And they were deep fried. And delicious. Did I mention that? :-) Yummmmm . . . I wouldn’t write them off . . . give them another try . . . done right they are light, airy, crispy, and totally DELICIOUS!

  • I want a taste. Can you believe that I have a food blog, and I’ve never tried a morel. In the Appalachia region they call them Molly Moochers. I like that.

    I enjoy your taste tests, but I’m always a bit melancholy afterward because I wasn’t there to partake.

    Amy: I read Little Heathens, and there are a lot of great recipes. Also, I love Iowa because at your state fair you have sculptures carved out of butter. I think, last year you had one of that gymnast from Des Moines.

  • Sandy in MI:

    Ha, Calder’s review gave me a good laugh this morning!

  • M.R.:

    Are you absolutely sure you don’t homeschool those children?

  • Has anyone purchased one of those mushroom logs? It’s just a log that’s contains mushroom spore, and then they grow throughout the year. I saw one at the Merc in Lawrence, and I wanted to buy onem but the thought of my wife pummeling me to my death with this log convinced me to reconsider the purchase. She would not be happy with this purchase.

  • This is hilarious! You are a very brave woman!!

  • EEEWWWWWWWW! I’ve never SEEN one of those things before, but they look nasty! Your boys are very brave to have tried them. What did you bribe them with?? LOL

  • priscilla:

    They look like monkey brains!

  • judyktw:

    I live in Central IL and morels are a HUGE springtime feast! I soak them in salt water (kills the rolypolys, although I’ve never seen any in 30 years!)– drain, and dust them in JUST flour–I’ve tried eggs and it takes away from the taste of the mushroom. Also, I fry them in a light oil, like canola…not so rich. Just some ideas, I’m on my fifth “mess” (as they call them here) this year and still have more soaking in my fridge. My husband doesn’t eat them, but he loves to hunt them. More for me!

  • caren:

    I don’t think so, I like some mushrooms but not sure about this one. And there would have been no way I could have gotten my boys to try them. It would be like the time my son was 3 and I tried to get him to eat black eyed peas on new years day. Boy that was a mess to clean up. He still pretty much won’t try anything I suggest he try.

  • Thank goodness for your blog, otherwise I never would have known! I think those boys deserve a trip to Dairy Queen or maybe another gun or something as a reward.

  • I love your site, but have to say that this threw me off my breakfast this morning!!! Lol, I’d eat one – if I was on fear factor? Great posting.

  • Ha! cute post!

    Yes, here in Iowa they are considered food of/for the gods!

    Possibly a better way to bring out their subtle flavor is to coat them gently with flour (after the egg dip), then saute in real butter. Too much breading can make them seem like eggs and crackers – just what your in-house food critics were saying!

    And of course soak in salted water as everyone has hinted. We usually soak overnight in the fridge.

  • Funny you should mention this because I just tried wild mushrooms for the first time in several years while visiting my parents over the weekend. I believe my parents had sponge mushrooms rather than morels. But yes, people go ga-ga over mushroom hunting around here.

    My mom lightly floured and sauteed them in butter. I didn’t think they had any taste other than flour and butter. I’m not sure what all the hoop-la is about. I think I’ll stick with the regular button mushrooms you buy in the store.

  • I think you handled this like a homeschooler!

  • Inga:

    Definitely try real butter, seasoned flour, egg/milk batter. They are the food of the Gods!! We have found 16 ourselves here in our area, 6 nice size morels in our own yard! And I have to say those you hunt for and find yourself are the best tasting.

  • LOL!! I snorted really loud while reading this and now my co-workers are looking at me funny.

    I don’t know what a rolypoly is, please do not enlighten me. LOL

  • Laura:

    Those look disgusting! No way I could even TRY one!

  • mai:

    UMMM, they are GREAT in mushroom soup.

  • Leslie:

    I don’t think I could have gotten past how they look and I KNOW my son would NEVER have tried one (my daughter might have). You are way braver than me when it comes to food.

  • Thanks for this! I only this year decided that I could eat mushrooms & not hate them – & that was criminis. I’ve been wanting to try morels though, & now I just might! But, I will have to do a VERY thorough roly poly check!
    Also, just to make sure (b/c I am an idiot, & I need to have everything spelled out for me), did you dredge the morel pieces in the saltine & egg mixture before frying them w/butter?

  • Stephanie:

    My dad loves to hunt morels, I love to hunt morels. I don’t admit this, but I HATE the taste of morels.

    I don’t like the grittiness, I don’t like the crazy texture, I don’t necessarily like the taste. BUT I LOVE HUNTING THEM!

    It is much fun up here in Idaho. But of course you gotta watch for cougars and bears when you are hunting morels in Idaho… So you have to go in packin’ heat. LOL!

    I can agree with you on the taste, however. But we have never had them like you prepared them. Isn’t everything delicious when you coat in egg, cracker crumbs and fry in butter?

  • arniesmom60:

    Here in Spain we are mushroom freaks, too, and morels are highly appreciated (and expensive if you have to buy them).
    Please give them another try! I can imagine easily that the crackers and eggs overpower their rather subtle taste. So just saute them lightly in butter with some very finely chopped onion or shallot. Then add real cream, salt and pepper, cook just until the sauce begins to thicken and serve over a plate of fresh pasta. This is heavenly!

  • Chukibabee:

    Can’t take the texture of mushrooms. I pick them off my pizza, out of my spaghetti, etc. Just taste like pencil erasers to me.

  • Tracy:

    They’re a big thing in PA. One year our family found over 4,000 of them and somewhere we have a picture of them all on the kitchen table. I think my MIL has it, I’ll have to get it from her. They’re totally heaped up on that old table.
    We never tell the location where we get them and always brag about how many we find if we do indeed find a lot!
    They’re a pain in the butt to fry. We soak them in salt water, dip them in egg, then bread crumbs and fry in REAL butter!

  • Jennifer:

    I just learned something new today. I have never seen or heard of morels. Very interesting. That’s what I get for being a So. California girl. hmmmm… I would love to try them. I’ll have to ask my Iowan friend if she’s had them before. Thanks for sharing.

  • Nicole:

    I LOVE when you do the family taste tests with written reviews. That cracks me up. I think the fact that you could even touch them after seeing a freaky bug crawl out of them scores you some made points for being adventurous. I’m with you….not going to be hunting my food any time soon.

  • Nancy:

    We have morels every year (as many as we can find) – don’t cut off the stems – slice them in half lengthwise- dip in egg/milk – dredge in seasoned flour and fry. Wonderful.
    We make a meal out of them.

    Never heard of using crackers.

  • Did you try them Rechelle or just have your kids taste them?

  • I tried them. They tasted like eggs.

  • Cindy in Tennessee:

    Here in middle Tennessee they are called “dry land fish”. I don’t know where the name came from. I’m from Indiana and they were always known as morels. Anyways, we always cut them in half long ways and soak them in salt water. Then they are rolled in some cornmeal and cooked in oil. Very yummy this way! Taste nothing like a mushroom from the store.

  • Your kids are real sports! :)

  • I am not a mushroom fan myself.


  • Stephanie _Oh:

    When I was a very little girl I remember going “mushroom hunting” with my Dad. It was such fun, but only ‘cuz my dad was such a fun Dad!. We’d get up early in the morning-always Sunday and hunt them. My Mom would fry them in butter (light dustng of flour and seasoning).Only when I was older did I realize these mushrooms were prized morels. I loved them. We didn’t cut them up. They were left whole and fried. Yum!

  • I just wonder if drywall dude hunts for OTHER mushrooms as well.

  • eclecticdeb:

    Ummmmm, ever hear of liver damage? I would NEVER eat mushrooms given to me by a mere aquaintance. The risk is just too great.

  • Morels look really unappetizing. I’ve seen a few here on our property, but they were in or next to a pile of horse poo, which made them look even more unappetizing. Rolypolys are easy to pick off; horse poo is not so easy. The idea of eating wild mushrooms really kinda freaks me out, even though I know that morels do not have a poisonous look-a-like. I do love mushrooms, though. Maybe someday I will try a wild morel, but I think I would chop it up and saute it in butter.

  • YUCK!! The look puts me off! Just like menudo,(a Texas thing) calamari and chocolate covered ants or grasshoppers. I like regular mushrooms but the wrinkled appearance reminds me of something unmentionable on the internet!!

  • I wouldn’t eat them either! Your boys are so brave….. so tell me .. what is a rolypoly ? Dying to know.

  • Melissa:

    They look like brains. I think I would rather eat roly polies than brains. Then I had to scroll down through the brain pictures just to tell you that I think you ate brains. I need to look at those pictures again when I want to eat cake!

  • kelsie:

    I LOVE THEM!!!! So do our kids! We only fry them in a butter! I don’t care for them with the egg and coating. I just love them fried in a pan of real butter. If your dh gets tired of eating them he can send them my way!!!

  • I am extremely sad that you did not take a picture of the roly-poly to be included in the post.

  • Nancy:

    The mushrooms look like sponges. I like white button mushrooms, but I don’t know that I would like them. I am with your one child none for me!!

  • Cate:

    Woooo hooo! Sweetie…. you should have just cleaned them and floured them & fried them in 100% butter… nice and crispy…. … Love them…. of course everyone is different and I don’t like strawberries [seeds drive me crazy] … Um could you just send them to me — the next batch… thanks…

  • Oh dear. My beloved morels. *sigh* We used to hunt them when I lived up in da UP, eh. Haven’t had them since as I’m not one to pay for them. (The price? oy. It kills me – or at least my annual budget.)

    But I’ll stand by the others – no egg, no crackers. Soak in salt water (not too salty though!) over night – then rinse well and fry ‘em up in good fresh butter. I like them best with just a dash of cream and served over a nice medium-rare steak. Uhoh. I’m drooling on my keyboard again.

  • Susan:

    they are hideous in appearance and the recipe needs something – like green onions and a little wine to bind the mixture together. then………maybe.

  • Carol:

    Please, no more morels. They give me the heebie-jeebies just looking at them. I beg of you, please stop, I’m all creeped out.

  • I live in Wisconsin and I LOVE Morels, lightly fried in real butter and sprinkled with just a pinch of salt at the end. I’ve never soaked them, just washed them really well with a high-pressure sprayer. They’re too delicate to scrub, but I think soaking them would change the natural flavor and texture. I don’t live in a morel-rich area, so I only get a few each year, but they’re a true delicassy. The photos in this post make the Morels look particularly slimy. They don’t normally look so gooey and I’ve never seen a roly poly in them. If you’re not a mushroom person though, they probably aren’t your best bet!

  • Lori:

    Oh my, morels are heaven food on earth!! We live in the mountains of CA and I taught our kids to identify them from a young age. They are great hunters and could really get down into the low and sneaky spots to find them. I used to make them regularly until my husband developed an allergic reaction to them (I made him sick twice before we figured out what the problem was!), so now it’s strictly a treat for me. And yes, listen to the folks about soaking them. It’s just like dealing with leeks. Mmmm, it’s just about morel season here. And if you just saute them without the batter they wouldn’t taste like eggs. They would taste like…..heaven.

  • that is probably the most disgusting thing I have seen.. and I LOVE MUSHROOMS.

  • Kathy J:

    People here in Nebraska are also extremely secretive about their morel hunting grounds. I think they leave the secret to their decendents with the proviso they never tell anyone except the fruit of their loins where their beloved morels can be found.
    Kind of like deer hunting – you just have to know someone

  • Lindie:

    Tell your sheetrocker that it is called trespassing and theft! Next time, just soak in salt water and rinse, then coat with a little flour and cornmeal and fry or use them in an omelet. They are a real treat!

  • My Morel has it all wrong. No need for the egg or saltines. Just a little bit flour and butter. Yummmmmmmm…

  • You’re such a brave woman going after that blog story. :) I did laugh about the kids having to try them first…and yea, a rolypoly would do me in.

  • ginny:

    These mushrooms are selling for $30-$50 a pound in my area! We love them! Try them again and just use a little flour when you fry them. And we always soak in salted water too. Love Calder’s review!! LOL

  • Abby:

    I think you might have better results with a different breading.

    Growing up in rural Kentucky, we hunted for morels every spring. We always soaked them overnight in salt water, drained the water, breaded them with cornmeal mixed with some salt and pepper, and fried them in oil until well browned. Real butter would work well too.

    I hope you’ll give them another try someday!

  • Yes Shelley, I dredged them in the mixture, placed them in the butter and fried them up. I really think there is probably a better… less eggy way… to prepare them.