Typical area where fire morels are found. Rocky Mountains, BC, Canada
Once you’ve found some prospective old burns, the next problem is when to start looking for the morels. Fire morels will start fruiting the spring/summer seasons, but timing is heavily dependent on climate, weather and elevation. As a general rule, fire morels will fruit from March to May in the warmers area of the USA, while the northern areas of the USA and most of Canada will start fruiting from late April to July. Elevation has to be taken into account, since many forest fires happen high in the mountains where winter is slow to leave.
Once spring has hit an area, morel pickers will usually check their choice locations weekly, looking for signs of morels. It’s good to select a few different burns to search if possible, as not all forest fire locations produce morels. When an area starts producing morels, the mushrooms are usually easy to find as they are fairly obvious against the backdrop of barren burnt forest floor. Make sure to spot check multiple areas in a burn, as not all areas of burn will produce morels.
You can of course save yourself the time and effort of finding burn morel picking locations yourself and simply keep an eye on the mushroom message boards, as heavy producing morel area aren’t kept secret for long. Although the first pickers in an area get the early bird advantage of all the choice picking and usually make the most money. You can also try calling local mushroom buyers to see if they have had any morels sold to them yet. This will at least tell you if the season has started and you may even get info on where the morels are being picked.
Remember that you may end up driving on harsh forestry roads to access morel picking locations, so make sure your vehicle is ready for the trip with emergency items like a spare tire or two. It’s preferable to use a vehicle with high clearance and 4 wheel drive, when driving to remote locations.
If you’re lucky, you’ll be picking in an area that’s productive enough for buyers to come set-up road site selling stations in your location. If there aren’t any buyers in the area, you should make sure to contact possible buyers before you head out to see how many mushrooms they’ll take and what price they’ll pay. Alternatively, you can also contact local restaurants and markets to see if you can directly sell your mushroom to them.
When selling to buying stations, remember that prices can differ day to day as morels are very much a supply and demand business. Prices are usually the best at the beginning of the season and gradually fall as the picking season continues.
He started out by picking wild mushrooms in the forests of the Okanagan then he began selling his mushrooms directly to restaurants.
Now Gord Weighill’s Kelowna-based company has expanded into a multi-million dollar business.
Mikuni Wild Harvest sells organic produce and specialty food products annually to hundreds of the top restaurants across North America.
The company has benefited from increasing consumer demand for organic food across the continent.
More than 1,500 restaurants across Canada and the U.S. buy produce from Mikuni.
Referring to mushrooms he bought from the company, Chef Jesse Croy of Sunset Bistro at Summerhill Winery says the mushrooms are as organic as possible and contain no chemicals.
The company’s headquarters are located in a Kelowna basement, but they have offices and warehouses in major cities like New York, Lax Vegas and Seattle.
The fires that affected our National Forest’s in Central and northern British Columbia left a legacy that has been repeated thousands of times in BC’s natural history. The burned areas provide ideal conditions for the growth of morel mushrooms, a fungus that is collected around the world and highly revered for its delicious flavor.
Morels grow abundantly in the first year after a forest fire if conditions are suitable. The time of year of the burn and the amount of rainfall after a fire are critical factors in determining morel production in these areas.
This web site gives the data for the forest fires around BC in 2011.
Chanterelle Mushrooms (Use knife to cut stalks)
These mushrooms have a bright yellow to orange cap with a wavy margin. The cap becomes depressed in the middle and looks funnel shaped as the mushroom matures. The stem has the same colour as the cap. Shallow gills or ridges extend from the cap part way down the stem. These mushrooms have an apricot fragrance and a peppery after taste when eaten raw.
Chanterelles are found in jackpine stands that have a groundcover of reindeer lichen. Excessive tramping in the forest when conditions are dry will damage the lichen which is essential for the growth of these mushrooms. Therefore, avoid searching for wild mushrooms when the groundcover is dry.
Chanterelles begin to appear around mid-July and continue producing if conditions are favourable until freeze-up. These mushrooms rarely have worms in them compared to some of the other species.
Chanterelles can sometimes be confused with Jack O’Lantern (Omphalotus olearius) which have a bright yellow colour, grow in large clusters around stumps and give off a greenish glow when placed in the dark. Jack O’Lantern are poisonous and should not be touched.