If you are trying to grow morel mushrooms for harvest, or you like hunting morels, it is essential to understand the right time to harvest them. If they are too small, they didn’t have enough time to mature. If they are too big, they won’t be good as long. What is the right size to harvest a morel mushroom?
It’s hard to determine the exact size that you should harvest a morel. This is because the best time is when the morel is mature. Since different types of morels mature at different sizes, you need to determine the type of morel you are dealing with and what size it is when mature.
Do Morels Need to Be a Specific Size to Harvest?
Morel mushrooms don’t have to be a specific size before they are ready to harvest. Mature mushrooms are said to be just as delicious as young mushrooms, but the longer they sit, the higher chance they have of being damaged by weather or animals. It is said that you should harvest a morel as soon as you are able to see it.
How Big is a Mature Morel Mushroom?
Depending on the type of morel mushroom, a mature one can grow between two and twelve inches tall. They can also get up to three inches wide. Since they can grow pretty large, they can be easy to spot. This means if you wait too long, other people might find them before you get there.
How to Identify a Mature Morel
It is usually safe to assume that a morel is mature and ready for harvest when you can first see it, it can still be beneficial to know what you are looking for. Mature morels are usually about six inches tall, and they have a cap that looks like a sponge with hollow stems.
You can also find mature morels in several different colors. Most commonly, they are going to be light brown, yellow-brown, or yellow. You can also find them in black, but these are considered to be really rare. The black morels are said to be the most delicious out of all of them.
Morels can be difficult to spot because their color makes them blend into their surroundings easily. The best thing you can do to identify a mature morel is study what they look like. Look through pictures of morels that others have posted so you are aware of what they look like in their natural habitat.
Should Morels Be Picked or Left to Grow?
It is highly recommended that morels be picked if you want to harvest them. You shouldn’t let them grow because they will be exposed to more dangers that can make the morel go bad and you won’t be able to eat them.
One thing to keep in mind is most morel hunters follow a 50% rule. This rule says that if 50% of the morel is still good, it is considered worth picking. The longer the mushroom sits, the more the mushroom will deteriorate.
How to Pick Morel Mushrooms
It might seem self-explanatory, but there is actually a right way and a wrong way to pick a morel mushroom. You need to harvest the morel properly to avoid any damage to the mushroom and increase the chances of it growing back again the following season.
First, you need a sharp knife. Carefully cut off the cap of the mushroom. There isn’t a specific size that a morel needs to be before you can harvest it, you just want to try to make sure it is mature.
Where to Find Morels
If you are hunting for morels, you need to make sure you are looking in the right place. There are resources available online that can show you where others have found morels before. If you want to find them yourself, your best bet will be to head out to a forest. In most cases, morels like to grow on the edge of wooded areas.
You will find the majority of morels growing near aspen trees, ash trees, elm trees, and oak trees. They also prefer trees that are dead or currently dying because they can absorb their nutrients. You will usually see them growing right around the base of these types of trees on the edge of a forest.
If you happen to find a morel mushroom, stay exactly where you are. It is highly likely that you will find more within a twenty-foot radius of where you found that one.
When to Find Mature Morels
Morel mushrooms grow in the spring, usually over a one-month period. They typically start growing in the beginning of April and stop around the middle of May. The exact dates will vary, but it is always within the months of April and May.
Morels will usually mature and be ready to harvest around the tenth day after they start growing. This is usually when they are first visible, so as soon as you see one you should harvest it. Since morel mushrooms can be damaged the longer they sit, it is important to harvest them quickly.
Cleaning Morels After Harvesting
After you harvest your mature morel mushrooms, you need to clean them, so they stay good. First, shake off as much excess dirt as you possibly can. You need to do this carefully, because you don’t want to bruise your mushroom or have them break apart.
When you have as much dirt out as possible, you will rinse the morels with cold water. Put the morels in a large bowl with cold water and swish them around to loosen any of the remaining dirt stuck in the mushroom.
Now that the morels are clean, you are going to dry them. Lay them out on a clean towel or several layers of paper towels. You will then gently pat the morels dry and help the pits drain out. You can then prepare morels how you wish and enjoy them.