Morel mushrooms popping up all over the world
The Sportsman’s Report
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By Bill Hanson  April 12, 2013 12:00 am

A good friend in Spokane, Wash., Mary Ann Nabor, sent me a clipping from the mushroom news. An abundance of morel mushrooms and their pickers are expected to pop up in the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest within the month.

Helen Lau, botanist for the Cle Elum Ranger District, said morels only grow in the spring and are prolific in Washington on the east side of the mountains. The spring/summer mushroom picking season starts Monday, April 15, and runs until July 31.

Morels can be found all over the world and seem to thrive in areas of disturbance, Lau said. And for this very reason, morels should be in high supply this season because of the recent fall wildfires.

Commercial harvesters will come to previously burned areas because, when conditions are right, it’s very common to have a good crop of mushrooms grow in areas that were burned by fires the previous year. No permits are required for personal use, and the daily limit is three pounds.

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I’ve also gotten reports of black trumpets and hedgehogs in Salt Point. It is the first time in my 18 years as a mushroom loon these two choice edibles are up this late.

Turkey hunting update

Turkey hunting is hot, hot, and hot. Get your gobble oiled and find a bush. My friend Steve hand-writes a sign and nails it on the tree above his head, “This is not a real turkey gobble. It is intended to lure tom turkeys who are illiterate.” So far it’s working, as any illiterate hunters have not perforated him.

Digging clams

Clam digging time is upon us. The minus tides in April, May and June are good this year. You will need a boat for Tomales Bay. Motor to the sand bars that appear at minus tide and look for their snouts sticking up in the sand. Sometimes you only see an odd double holed thingee, tickle it with your finger. If it responds by retracting, you are in business and should start digging.

The ‘Horse-Neck’ clam, part of the gaper family, is common in Tomales. They are ugly and sport a long, stretchy tube or neck. That’s the part you eat. Wash them in clean water then dip the necks in boiling water. This makes the tough outer skin peel off easier. When you open the shell, keep both sides of the white shell muscle and the frilly muscle on the edge. These soft inner muscles make excellent clam chowder. I grind the necks and make clam patties. Get some Panko chips, an egg, and some seasoning and then deep fry. 

Rest the crisp patties on a cake rack to drain off the excess oil and serve with a nice garlicky aioli or tarter sauce. You will appreciate why we dig the ugly things.

Bill Hanson is a Sonoma County native and a lifelong sportsman. He is the former president of the Sonoma County Mycological Association. Look for his column in The Community Voice each week.

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