We went out mushroom hunting yesterday with the two youngest boys! Sun drying morels is one way to preserve the harvest, but this time the weather didn’t want to cooperate…..
In total we harvested about eleven and a half pounds of morels. Now one of the facts of life when you take a four year old out picking morels is that he will pick anything he can identify as a morel. So the first order of business is making sure what he is bringing back are in fact morels… so far he has done quite well in this regard. Next up you just have to come to grips with the fact that he is going to bring back less than prime mushrooms. It’s just a fact of life with the little guys. So in this regard it should go without saying that out of eleven pounds of morels we ended up with a double handful of morels that we just are not going to be eating. So what’s fella’ to do with those mushrooms? Well it just seems like a tremendous waste of time, energy, and resources to just throw them out. You definitely don’t want to be wasting God’s bounty. We could feed them to the pigs, but that could have gave the porkers a tummy ache! So I did a little research and came up with a recipe for home cultivation of morels.
There are a few different techniques out there, all with varying degrees of success (none of them highly successful by the way). The one I chose was to create a mass spore slurry to inoculate my blueberry patch. The bushes are mulched heavily with a combination of wood chips and fir needles/branches from our Christmas trees. I figure I might as well try to get an additional harvest from that mulch. Any way, the recipe calls for emulsifying morels with some wood chips, and a little water. You then take this paste and mix it with four gallons of water, a couple tablespoons of unsulfered molasses,some fresh wood ash out of your wood stove or fireplace, and a couple pinches of salt.
The molasses acts as a quick food source to help the spore propagate, the ash should help kick-start production, and the salt is to stave off bacterial intrusion. You then take that whole conglomeration and put it in a five gallon bucket with a air stone to keep the mess from going anaerobic. You let it brew for twenty-four to forty-eight hours and then dump the entire contents of the bucket onto your chosen medium to inoculate. In no time if the conditions are right you will have our own backyard morel patch growing in the mulch of our blueberries. Well that is the theory anyway. We’ll see if it works out and I’ll keep you posted. If anyone has tried this technique or plan on it please let us know how it turns out for you.
For more ideas on morel propagation techniques check out:
Good luck, and enjoy!