Less morels but more lessons | Under Rocks podcast
Hike along with the Under Rocks crew as they slog through woods and fields in search of the jewel of springtime, the morel mushroom. To put it another way, watch them get skunked with Chris Fink. But there are triumphs along the way, lessons to be learned, and even a few consolation prizes.
Another morel-hunting season is winding down in Illinois. The nutty-tasting delicacy lures foragers into the woods for a few weeks each spring in hopes of coming across even a handful of the elusive wild mushrooms. We sent WNIJ’s Under Rocks team out to an undisclosed location during a recent downpour in search of morels. Beloit College professor and skilled-morel-finder Chris Fink led the expedition.
Lesson #1: Look up! And use binoculars. Surprisingly, that's the first step to finding these forest floor treasures. You're looking for dying elm trees, with bark that's "shaling off."
Lesson #2: Be patient, positive, and thorough. Just when you are about to give up, you could strike the mother lode of morels. Or maybe you won't. Ever. It's the journey, right?
Lesson #3: Morels ain't the only shroom in the woods. Learn to ID other almost-as-good spring treats, such as golden oyster mushrooms. If all else fails, try a pheasant back mushroom. The key is butter. Sauté it in butter!
Lesson #4: No matter how cold and rainy it is, whether you are deep in the woods or just stepping into tall grass for a moment, ticks are out there and very hungry. End your adventure with a tick check.
Dan Libman, Spencer Tritt, and Susan Stephens wish to thank their guide Chris Fink and would never ever want him to feel guilty about the results of their fruitless pursuit because it totally 100% is not his fault.
Send us off on our next adventure! We're always looking stories about what's unique, weird, and/or wonderful in northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin. Drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or message us at wnij.org/youask
Under Rocks is produced by WNIJ at Northern Illinois University.