The hunt is on, and if you're lucky enough to know a good hunter, you could be in for one tasty treat.
We're talking about Morel mushrooms, the annual gift delivered by Mother Nature right around this time of year.
"They'll pop up for two or three days, then you won't see them anymore," said local Morel hunter Ken Elkins. "It's a fun time, and they're good eatin', too, by the way."
No one knows that better than chef Jasper Mirabile of Jasper's Italian Ristorante. Mirabile said he looks forward to Morel season every year. He said local hunters have told him this is the best season they can remember.
"We have one picker in Kansas who said he couldn't believe how many he had. He went out and harvested one afternoon, then went back to the same spot the next morning and the ground was covered with the Morels again, and they were five to six inches tall," Mirabile said.
Mirabile said he didn't get any Morels for a couple of days, then today, he had more than he could possibly use.
"We're cooking them two ways right now, with fettuccine served with garlic chives that my wife grows, and on their own with just a little sea salt and a touch of olive oil as a vegetable," Mirabile said.
Mirabile said he doesn't want to use too many ingredients with the prized catch. He just wants to the Morels to speak for themselves.
Back in the woods, Ken Elkins continues to hunt the sometimes elusive, always tasty, fungi.
They're out there, but Elkins said they can be tough to spot. He told us he found some on his property in Kansas City, Kansas this week, which brings up a good point that K-State Extension Agent Tara Markley makes-"No trespassing."
"First of all, make sure whatever property you're on that it's legal for you to be there to collect the morels and take them home," Markley said.
Markley also offered some hunting advice. "Take your time and be patient. Most times, people rush in and step all over them," Markely stated. "Normally if there's one, there are going to be more."
Here are some other tips from Markley and other "Morel whisperers."
Look in areas with moist soil, lots of natural litter, and focus on the north side of the hill or wooded area. She said it's kind of like an old wives tale, everyone has his or her own strategy.
I like Jasper's strategy, have them delivered to your doorstep, then cook them up as quickly and as simply as you can.
Happy hunting and happy eating.
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