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What to Forage for in April; Morel Mushrooms and Ramps

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I admit that both my favorite and most hated month at the same time is the month of April.

April is the sign that the  snowy relaxing days of winter are over and the hecticness of spring has arrived. While I’m always ready for sunny, warm weather and spending time in the woods foraging for deliciousness, it’s a struggle to get motivated when it feels like I just got into the groove of spending our evenings reading and going to bed early.

What to Forage for in April; Morel Mushrooms and Ramps

Just as a disclaimer, this post isn’t intended to make you a foraging expert. This is just a general beginners guide to what the best foraging foods are in April (they’ll start in March and end in May with April being the peak month).

There are plenty of other amazing things, but these are the easiest and most popular in our area.

What are Morel Mushrooms?

Ah, the elusive Morel Mushroom. People spend countless hours in the woods, but never find any morel mushrooms.

“Mushroom Picking” was one of the first dates my husband too me on. It might sound strange, but even though I wasn’t an outdoorsy girl growing up and when I met my husband I wasn’t looking for this lifestyle, I was immediately drawn to it.

Both my maternal and paternal grandparents foraged, but my parents weren’t interested. I always think that foraging (like gardening) was in my blood, it just skipped a generation.

Wild Foraged Morel Mushrooms

The morel, or morchella, is actually more closely related to truffles than it is to other mushrooms and, like truffles, is the fruit of a fungus that sprouts in the moist soil of woods and forests. There are debates about the number of different types of morel, but the most common ones are black morels and yellow morels.
All morels have a stem and a conical body that is covered with pits and ridges like a honeycomb, which makes them instantly recognizable to anyone who spends time hunting for them. Morels are a spring mushroom that can usually be found between the months of March and May. Because of this very short growing period, they can be quite expensive when they are in season, costing upward of $20 per pound. They are definitely best served fresh, but can also be dried very easily, allowing them to be stored for use in the summer, fall and winter months.’
Morel Mushroom 2018 
 In our area we find them mostly under sycamore and poplar trees, occasionally old apple orchards. However, what makes morels so elusive is that they are notoriously unpredictable. No matter how perfect an area seems it may never grow a morel, yet you’ll find several happily-growing in an unexpected area!

Rarely do we go home with an empty-basket. Ray and his family have been picking morel mushrooms for generations. We have countless morel spots that we check frequently.

Wild Foraged Morel Mushrooms

Oh and just because you found them growing in a location this year, there’s no guarantee they’ll return next year. But in most cases you’ll want to check spots that you’ve picked before!

For my favorite Morel Mushroom Recipes Click HERE

 What Are Ramps? 

Ramps are a wild onion that grow during the spring in US and  Eastern Canada. They’re sometimes referred to as wild leeks, and taste like a pungent combination of garlic and onion.

They grow in moist wooded areas, in various sized clumps or groups of pants.

Ramp'd-Up Ranch Dressing & Dip

Depending on who you ask, how to harvest them can be controversial. Due to the popularity of Ramps recently, many greedy people are over harvesting and depleting them. In these areas people would prefer you leave the bulb in the ground (so that they can repopulate the area) only harvesting the green leaves.

Where we live and in our expansive ramp patch, there is no risk of over harvesting. We dig up the entire plant, just like you would an onion. We eat both the bulb and leaves.

Ramp'd-Up Ranch Dressing & Dip

Take them home and give them a rinse to see their bright white bulbs, pretty pink stems and brilliant green leaves.

Don’t worry if you don’t have a ramp patch to forage your own, they are found in at many spring farmer’s markets and specialty grocery stores.

Click HERE to get my favorite Ramp Recipes 

Foraging Tip: Don’t forget your Healthy Snacks!

Here’s the thing about foraging, especially during the early spring, it’s not guaranteed. That’s why it’s called mushroom-hunting and not mushroom-picking.

One of the best ways to turn that unlucky-foraging-frown upside down, is to always pack delicious healthy snacks! So, even if you don’t come home with a basket of fresh morels to cook up for dinner, you can stop for a minute and enjoy a mini-picini lunch.

These Creminelli Fresh Snacks have become my go-to foraging (and hiking) snack.

Creminelli Fine Meats™ is revolutionizing snacking by introducing an artisan line of fresh protein snacks.Providing Americans with genuine, artisan Italian salami and meats, handcrafted with organic spices and heritage meats.

 

Creminelli Products are always:

  • Handmade by artisans, rigorously honoring traditional Italian methods of production.
  • Made with the very best organic and imported Italian spices.
  • Made with choice cuts of natural pork raised on family farms practicing sustainable agriculture with no antibiotics, no growth stimulants and no animal derivatives in the feed.

If you, like me, love what Creminelli is doing, CLICK HERE to follow them on Instagram!

For me the perfect pairing is Felino salami and mild sheep’s milk cheese from Spain make a delicious high-protein snack that’s low-carb and keto friendly way to snack no matter where you are.

Protein encourages lean muscle growth. It also helps you recover after inense activity. It’s essential for healthy hair, nails and skin. Protein helps prevent losing muscle mass when dieting. Since protein is processed by your body more slowly than carb-heavy foods, it keeps you feeling full for longer, as well as balances out your blood sugar levels to prevent the low-energy crash you often experience with sweet or starchy snacks.

And let me be abundantly honest, they are kinda fancy feeling too.

If we wait for the perfect moment or wait for things to happen TO US, we are going to spend out whole lives waiting. I say take a pretty napkin with you, spread out and enjoy your delicious snack.

Like today, when I visited my ramp patch but they weren’t ready to pick yet. So, I decided to just sit back and enjoy the view while having a snack. (PS those broad green leaves are baby ramps, they need another week of growing)

And, conveniently Creminelli Fresh Snacks are available at our local Starbucks, so I can grab a drink and a healthy snack!

What’s your favorite healthy, delicious and fancy-feeling snack to take along foraging/hiking?

 

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3 Comments

  1. Right here is the right site for anybody who would like
    to understand this topic. You know so much its almost tough to argue with you
    (not that I really would want to…HaHa).
    You definitely put a brand new spin on a subject that’s been written about for
    many years. Great stuff, just excellent!

  2. Hey Hayley, Do you know if they have morels and/or ramps at WV Bot. Gdn or the arboretum? This should be our last summer here and it would be nice to get some morels, especially, before we go. Plus, I’ve been very ill and some good mushrooms might help. Kelly

    1. You are not permitted to forage at the Aboretum (actually not permitted to leave the paths) and I’ve never been to the botanical garden. Our Morel spots are local to our home and mostly in the mountains.

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