It was always delightful going on a hunt for mushrooms in the pastures and fields of the prairies. As a child, it was like a treasure hunt finding those white button field mushrooms and filling an ice cream pail full for dinner. A certain couple times a year, we would go out to collect these yummy morsels and it would be an all day experience. My favorite was finding Morel mushrooms. This type was hard to find, but under the right circumstances, this treasured mushroom was sure to be found.
Karlynn Johnston writes The Kitchen Magpie based out of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. She is currently writing her first cookbook and has two beautiful children with her husband. Karlynn has a wonderful family tradition she shares on Mushroom Hunting.
“Hunting the elusive morel mushroom in the Canadian prairie during the springtime is a family tradition that is as imprinted in my memory as my own name.”
“While we have foraged various types of mushrooms growing up the Morel remains the most sought after one, a true family favorite. Morels grow for a mere few weeks in the springtime, if they grow at all. Finding any mushroom is hard enough for a forager but Morels take the cake for elusiveness.”
“Morel mushrooms grow when they want, where they want and it’s never the same year to year. You may be lucky enough to find your lucky morel picking patch, but even that won’t guarantee that those brown beauties will be there next year. Morels depend on so many magic factors all happening at one time that even having a patch means that you have to check them almost bi-weekly in the spring. They will grow once and be done with it for another year.”
“Morel mushroom hunting is one tradition that didn’t fall by the wayside as much when I had my children. I’ve still managed to get out every second year or so to hunt them, sometimes in Alberta and sometimes in Manitoba on trips back to see family.”
“The family tradition of picking morels has been passed on to my children without intention. It’s simply what I do, just as it’s simply what my mother did and my grandma, and so on down the family lines. Spring comes, you forage morels. Teaching children to fish has more intention to it, more planning involved. Foraging mushrooms happens on a simple walk to the park, or a quick stop at the side of the road because the time of year and natural area is just right.”
Photography: Erica Lea with Buttered Side Up