The Hunter

It’s a personal quest that draws Steve Cowen into the woods every spring. He’s not alone. Finding the elusive morel mushroom is a bit of an obsession for many in the Ozarks. Read on, for morel-finding tips from a (practically professional) life-long hunter.

DISCLAIMER: The information in this article was fact checked and accurate at press time, but 417 Magazine cannot guarantee its accuracy indefinitely.

417 Magazine: How did you get involved in morel mushroom-hunting?
Steve Cowen: I was about 10 or 12 years old. Some friends of mine in a little town where I lived near Peoria, Illinois took me out mushroom-huntin’ and sent me home with a few. My parents, of course, had raised eyebrows, but they called my friend’s parents, and they got a verification that these things were okay to eat. Mom and Dad liked ’em and, of course, I did too. And that’s what started it.

417: Can you share any tips on finding morels?
S.C.: The first couple of years after an elm tree dies when the bark’s about half off of ’em is when they seem to produce morels. Once they’ve been dead long enough for all the bark to come off, there won’t be any more. Also, sycamores seem to have something to do with it. I look for big sycamore trees.

417: How long is the season?
S.C.: The black morels, the last couple weeks of March and maybe a little into April. The yellow ones pretty much when that one ends. The moisture is really the key, and 60-, 65-degree weather.

Subscribe today and get 417 in your mailbox every month!

417:  How do you tell a morel from another mushroom?
S.C.: They have a hollow stem. They resemble a sponge, and I think that’s why they have that nickname in places: a “sponge mushroom.” There’s really nothing else that is out there that looks like them.

417: What makes the morel mushroom better than what you’d find in the store?
S.C.: I don’t know. It’s like an Easter egg hunt, just the excitement of finding them. Almost every spring I dream about finding them. It gets to be kind of a passion.

417: So it’s not so much about the taste of the mushroom?
S.C.: No, it’s the taste. I mean they’re as good as they come, in my opinion. And they have a good texture. I have always cooked them.

417: Do you have any tips for cooking fresh morel mushrooms?
S.C.: Slice them, and soak them for half an hour in saltwater. Then rinse them off, and dip them in scrambled-up egg and then cracker crumbs, and fry ’em. It’s not the best thing for you health-wise, but they sure taste good.

Edit ModuleShow Tags

More Articles Like This

Faces of 417-Land 2017

Here’s your chance to get to know the local business owners who keep our city running. Whether they’re a surgeon or a restauranteur, an attorney or an interior designer, their dedication to their craft has set them apart from the rest. These are the Faces of 417-Land 2017.

Cheers!

We dive into 417-land's growing cocktail culture.

Ticket to Ride

Marty Scott shares his story of the long and winding road that led him to stardom as George Harrison in Branson’s Liverpool Legends.
Edit Module
Edit Module
Like us on Facebook Follow us on Twitter Sign up for our newsletters Follow us on Instagram

Edit ModuleShow Tags

  1. Faces of 417-Land 2017
    Here’s your chance to get to know the local business owners who keep our city running. Whether...
  2. Cheers!
    We dive into 417-land's growing cocktail culture.
  3. Best Winter Ever in 417-Land
    We rounded up 46 glorious ways to embrace the chill and fall in love with the season.
  4. Ticket to Ride
    Marty Scott shares his story of the long and winding road that led him to stardom as George...
  5. Kansas City, Here I Come
    With the eighth annual Restaurant Week and the U.S. Figure Skating Championships, this is the...
Edit Module
Edit Module