What a pleasant surprise. While on a morning mission to find a few earthworms to add to our garden beds back at home, we found some wonderful little treasures as my then five year old daughter and I ascended into a forest from our local Shinto shrine in Yokohama: Morels!
She had never seen a morel before and from the look on her face, it could have been a gnome, she was so surprised. And I was surprised too as I didn’t know that morels grew in Japan. So we collected the mushrooms and brought back a few handfuls of dandelion leaves and other lettuc-y weed greens and prepared a wild foraged lunch appetizer to go with the main course.
Things To Know Before Eating Wild Mushrooms
Below: morels, halved covered in flour and fried in butter on a skillet. To the left, stir fried dandelion green… As they like to say in Japan… Oishii!
All wild edibles and especially wild mushrooms can be a little difficult to identify without a lot of attention to detail and at the very least, a good reference guide to wild edibles. I like Peterson Guides as a general reference and there are so many more. In the case of Morels, there are several mushrooms that could be mistaken for a false morel if not careful. False morels will usually have more wavy or ‘brainy’ looking caps compared to true Morels, which have deeply pitted and webbed caps. Morels are also hollow inside, from the top and all the way down to the bottom of the stem. So if you cut a mushroom open and it’s fleshy, or has any kind of pulp inside, DO NOT EAT IT.
Where do Morels Grow?
This is an International Edible, right? The great thing about wild edibles is that many of them are just like people in the sense that they can live wherever they are comfortable. A plant hardiness map can show you where in the world you can find many of the plants that are familiar to you.
World Plant Hardiness Map
Not all plants can live anywhere, but it’s a comfort to know that plants do not recognize the nation state.
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