On June 1st we harvested the single morel mushroom that appeared unexpectedly in our rhubarb patch (see Miracle Morel).
We had learned that morels grow slowly, sometimes taking several weeks to mature. Watchful for squirrel attacks, bug infestations, rot, or other disasters, we let the morel develop. We even watered it during the dry days recently. It increased in size and weight until it began to list to one side, the weight of the crown beginning to bend the stem. Finally, we didn’t dare let it go further. We cut it down in its prime, and “sent it to the kitchens.”
We cut it in two to make sure there were no millipedes or other tenants in the hollow interior, then I laid it out on a sheet of paper. If it drops any spoors, I’ll “plant” the paper somewhere in the yard, where, with luck, new morels might grow in future years.
What exactly to do with this marvelous mushroom took some thought. The most obvious course, slicing it thinly, lightly sautéeing it in butter and eating it plain, finally won out. But, we’d considered drying it and storing it away so that Aly might share in our bounty at some point in the future. Her summer plans proved too uncertain, as did our ability to dry the mushroom perfectly. Better to eat it fresh while we can! A half of this mushroom for each of us is more morel than either of us have ever eaten at one sitting; actually it may be more than we’ve ever eaten before, period.
The rhubarb has benefited from recent sunny days and the subsequent rains. We can no longer see the ground in the rhubarb patch. You can bet, though, that from now on we’ll be peeking under the broad leaves to see if any other morels might have miraculously appeared.