Morel victory! Warm, wet weather makes MN woods a mushroom hotbed

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If you've spotted someone hunched over a patch of undergrowth in Minnesota's woods in the past few weeks, there's a good chance you'll have seen a morel hunter.

The recent mix of warm and wet weather has prompted the spongy mushrooms to spring up at the bases of trees, in fields, orchards, hedgerows and even alongside railway tracks.

And Minnesota is one of the best places in the country to find them, with TheGreatMorel.com saying the states around the Great Lakes are considered a "hotbed" for the sought-after mushroom (although they can be found in most states).

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If you're planning on heading out yourself, the Pioneer Press reports experienced morel hunters look for signs of dead elm trees, which prove a popular breeding ground for the fungi.

The newspaper adds you're more likely to find yellow morels in Minnesota's deciduous forests, and black morels in the pine forests of the northeast.

The Star Tribune reports they are also commonly found in the ashes of forest fires, near groups of aspen and birch, second growths or hardwoods, and on the edges of conifer forests, walnut and butternut trees.

To eat – or to sell?

If you find any, you'll likely have some valuable property in your hands, as they are an in-demand delicacy in fine dining. The prices of morel vary depending on where you go, for example Earthy Delights sells Midwest morels for as much as $59 per pound.

The Kitchn notes that their value tends to be high because they are more perishable than other foods, harder to cultivate, and difficult to find in great numbers.

But prices may not be as high this year as in previous years, WideOpenSpaces reports, because the high number of forest fires across North America last year led to a huge morel crop this year.

Mushroom Appreciation advises you cook morels as soon as you can after picking them, slicing them lengthways to ensure you get all the dirt out from within.

It also has recipes for the two classic ways to cook morels: frying them with butter and flour, or sautéing them with oil and garlic.

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