You don’t need an Iowa hunting license to try and bag some special mushrooms, but you DO need to know exactly what you’re picking. The season has just begun for the morel mushroom and one particular type of the coveted spongy fungus is appearing now.Morel hunter Lois Tiffany is a botany professor at Iowa State University. She says the morel season only lasts in Iowa from around mid-April until mid-May. Even though the taller, pitted morel mushrooms are distinctively different in appearance from poisonous “toadstools,” she warns that not all morels are safe to eat either. She says there is one “false morel” that has a stalk stuffed with what looks like white cotton. She says those should be left alone.Many morel hunters will closely guard their favorite hunting spots, since the tasty plants are perennial — meaning they’ll grow back every year. Tiffany says the morels aren’t hard to find, if you know where to search. She suggests that you look for dead elm trees and look around them.Some morels can grow to ten inches in height. They can be cooked a variety of ways — in butter, rolled in flour and sautéed, mixed in dishes or even in morel soup. They can also be dried, blanched and frozen. Tiffany recommends picking up a book on the morel before hunting, cooking or eating them.
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