Thursday, 26 April 2012

The Great Morel


Common Morel – South Manchester

The bizarre honeycomb like cap makes this one of the easier mushrooms to identify. Quite a rare Mushroom the Morel prefers a sandy, lime rich soils complete with high humidity. After spending many years wandering around ancient woodlands, meadows, river valleys, moors, heathlands and some of the finest nature reserves in the country a small group of Morels appeared less than half a mile away from home.
P1050165Close-up of the Morel

In France, Italy and North America the Common Morel is considered to be a delicacy hunted by thousands of people every year simply for their taste and the joy of the hunt. Traditionally the favoured cooking method is gently sauteeing them in butter, cracking pepper on top and sprinkling with salt. Morels do contain hydrazine an ingredient of rocket fuel therefore perhaps better to avoid eating them raw. Even cooked morels can sometimes cause mild intoxication.  P1050198There appears to be a bit of a debate upon whether or not foraging for wild mushrooms is harmful to the environment. Many foragers argue that once the cap of the mushroom opens up the spores are released therefore picking them doesn’t affect their long term survival. Others argue that Fungi play a vital role in the ecology of all natural habitats. They are nature's recyclers, as they break down organic matter from plants and animals. Many creatures feed on fungi, and they are host to some rare invertebrates.

Personally it does seem a bit selfish to pick them and prevent the next visitor and possibly future generations from being able to enjoy the fascinating shapes, forms and colours the fungi world has to offer.

St George’s Mushroom

Another edible mushroom prized as a delicacy and named after its habit of appearing around St George’s Day (23rd April). In Italy its known as marzolino, where again its popular fried in butter.
St George’s Mushroom in a large characteristic fairy ring around a tree

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