Putting the ‘Fun’ in Fungi

Fairies may not inhabit Michigan’s forests, but the woods are enchanted nevertheless. The magic is in the morels — delectable mushrooms that poke their pointy, hollow heads above the leaf litter from April into June.
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Morel
Photography courtesy Thinkstock

Found from Hillsdale County in the south to Lake Superior’s Isle Royale National Park, the most sought-after mushroom in the Mitten State is the main attraction of at least four community festivals.

Morel hunters include those who prize the bold-tasting quarry and those who simply appreciate an extended hike in the fresh, spring air.

Fans of morels rave about their rich, meaty flavor and aroma when cooked.  According to the United States Department of Agriculture, raw morels offer small bundles of D and B vitamins, potassium and iron, but experienced pickers know you must cook them before eating.  Rinse or soak in cool water, then sauté them in butter — maybe with a splash of wine and a dash of thyme. Or, add to a favorite dish.

These are fickle fungi, present in a “fairy circle” one year and absent the next.  To fill that gap, and the months between short growing seasons, Gaylord-based Adam and Angela Adams, owners of Forest Glory, sell dried morels. Weighing one pound when fresh-picked in the wilds of Michigan, the packaged product contains 50 dried morels of varying sizes. The Schultzes note these tasty treats can be restored to their original look and flavor by being soaked in water for 20 minutes.

Forest Glory, the online business through which they are sold, was initially launched by a single owner offering a single item: a morel-scented candle. As more and more people posted photos of morels to the founder’s Facebook page, the fan base grew to over 136,000. The Schulz family bought the company in 2013 and, today, forestglory.com offers dried morels, morel T-shirts and merchandise, and counts 147,600 fans (at press time) on Facebook: facebook.com/morelmushrooms.

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