Photography courtesy of Lowell Washburn, all rights reserved.
Although the peak of this year’s morel mushroom crop is past, the hunt is not over. A mix of generally favorable temperatures and ample moisture is sustaining the harvest for hunters scouring the peaks and valleys of Iowa’s Upper Mississippi River bluff country. While turkey hunting in Clayton County this week, I’ve managed to stumble into enough fresh ‘shrooms for some on the spot “fine dining” and have even had enough to share at breakfast. The elephant ear mushrooms are also coming on, if your tastes lean toward something richer. But my modest finds are nothing compared to what some of the pros are doing. Here’s an extreme example. Late Sunday afternoon [May 8] I ran into a couple of kids from McGregor who had already gathered 65 pounds of morels that day. It was incredible.
“What do you do with all of those; do you sell them?”, I asked.
“No, we never sell them,” one of the guys replied. “We eat lots and lots of mushrooms and give some to relatives. The rest we dehydrate, and use them all year.”
Plenty of folks do sell mushrooms, of course. One of the biggest outlets is found at the Valley Fish Market across the river at Prairie DuChien, Wisconsin. When I checked in by phone this morning, morels were still coming in although the take is beginning to slow. The price at Valley’s Market today is $29.95 per pound for morels and they expect to keep selling for at least four or five more days. After that, the supply will be anybody’s guess.