Fungus deemed edible

Fungus Among Us Morels can be found in any wet, or mossy area. Sometimes they hide underneath thick grass and foliage.

Tricia Peterson / Washburn Review

I recently heard a rumor that all mushrooms that grow in Kansas are poisonous, and I have to say, that is a lie.

Morel mushrooms, found during the spring months here in Kansas, are definitely not poisonous – I have been picking, cooking and eating them since I was a child.

My father, who loved to hunt anything, would always bring huge bags full of them home – so many he would trade them with his friends for things. He would then have me cook them, which I thought was the best part. A few years ago, he passed away with cancer, so I had to start hunting for them myself, and luckily I knew where a couple of his patches were hidden.

For some reason, I never asked him details on hunting the tasty treats down, and boy do I regret it. I had to start doing research on my own and learn from experience because morels are picky on where they decide to pop up.  It has to be consistently rainy for a few days or a week, then immediately warm and sunny. It’s also good if it was a year like this one, with a lot of rain, a lot of sunshine and not too cool temperatures. Also, just because they pop in one place, doesn’t mean they will pop in another place at the same time.

There are many other secrets to hunting them, but the best tip I have, is that when you hunt them, use a mesh bag. This way, the spores will be able to spread as you walk around and will grow back next year. Another way to insure they will continue to come back in the same spot is to cut them at the base, and leave the root in the ground. The closer you get to the ground, the more rubbery the mushroom stem is, so you don’t want that part anyway, although the upper stem is still good to eat.

The way my father taught me to cook morels is incredibly simple, and extremely fattening. First, soak them in eggwash, which if you want you can add a little milk to.

While soaking them, start heating up some unsalted butter in a non-stick saut̩ pan, and when I say some, I mean a lot Рabout half a stick depending on what size pan you have and how many mushrooms you have. Transfer the soaked mushrooms to a saltine cracker mixture, which consists of salted saltine crackers finely crushed up, nothing more. Bread the shrooms in the crackers, getting as much to stick to them as you can. Once the butter is melted and hot, add the breaded shrooms to the pan, and let them go.

You want to let them cook until they become a dark, golden brown color, and flip them. The goal is to only flip them once, kind of like steak. Once they are browned on both sides, transfer them with a slotted spatula to paper towels or something else that will soak up the excess butter. If you did it correctly, you will have extra butter, and they taste better if you soak up the excess.

After this, they’re ready to eat. Enjoy.