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April Morel Hunt

The old timers say that when the oak leaves are the size of a mouse’ ear, then that’s the time to look for morels. The last two days showered us with exciting morel abundance here in Central New Jersey.

Morels are excellent camouflagers, and for that reason, are known for their mysterious elusiveness. Enticing kids to participate in the mushroom hunt turned out to be a great idea. Not only did they have tons of fun, but being lower to the ground, their spotting skills were unquestionably superior to those of adults. In the process of our seek and find, we noticed that the mushrooms like the companionship of elm trees, trout lilies and skunk cabbage, and seem to prefer well-drained, moist and sunnyward facing slopes.

It is said that the black morel (Easter black or Morchella Angucticeps) usually shows up the earliest in our forests, followed by the half-free morel (Morchella puncipes), and then by the blond morel (Morchella Americana). Interestingly, we found all three varieties at the same state of maturity, even though mid-April is still consid

ered to be an early season here.

Morels are delicious as food and are highly medicinal. They contain Vitamins D and B, rich in nutrients such as protein, dietary fiber, and in minerals such as iron, copper, phosphorus, manganese, zinc and potassium. They also possess an antiviral, antioxidant, immunoregulatory and anti-tumor growth properties that help to protect the body from various health ailments. Be sure you know how to identify true morels before you eat them. There are some look-alikes and false morels that you probably won't want to include in your cooking.

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