There’s fungus among us, and it’s downright delicious! Mushroom fever hits Indiana hunters and foragers each spring in conjunction with April showers, all eagerly awaiting a taste of the delicacy they’ve waited a whole year for.

hands holding morel mushroom

Foraging Snacks

Indiana mushrooms tend to start popping in forested terrain for a few short weeks once air and ground temperatures warm up and after a few days of rain. Depending on who you ask, word of mouth may indicate it’s time to start looking around the bases of tulip, elm, ash and poplar trees once the dogwoods bloom or mayapples, trillium and dandelions appear, but opinions on just when and where to hunt vary widely.

mushroom hunting with dog, Visit Bloomington

Mushroom hunters are fiercely protective of their secret spots and “honey holes,” so don’t expect them to share productive locations unless you’re truly inside their circle of trust. In Indiana, individuals are welcome to hunt mushrooms for personal enjoyment in state park, state forests and fish/wildlife areas without a license, keeping in mind that regulations and restrictions may apply. Don’t ever hunt on private property without first getting permission from the owner.

mushroom on ground with stickAlthough there are many edible varieties of wild mushrooms across Indiana, the spongy morel is the crown jewel of the bunch. Newbies should plan to accompany an experienced hunter on outings and learn how to identify the mushrooms you find, as some varieties can be dangerous and even fatal if eaten. If there’s ever any doubt, throw it out. (The Indiana Department of Natural Resources offers a brochure to help ID common mushrooms here.) Bring a mesh bag to tote your haul — this allows mushroom spores to fall through the holes, planting the seeds, so to speak, for next year’s harvest.

fried morel mushrooms

Once you get your mushrooms home, soak them briefly in salt water to draw out any insects and impurities, then flour them lightly and fry in butter until golden brown, crispy and delicious.

No luck? No worries. You may be able to find fresh or dried morels at Indiana farmers’ markets or gourmet food stores, but they’ll cost you, usually anywhere from $80 to $100 per pound. Happy hunting!