Friday, April 10, 2020

The Molly Moocher Hunt!


Whether you call them Molly Moochers or Morels, hunting for these mushrooms is lots of fun! We recently took a break from Home School to go on a "Field Trip" in the woods with 3 of our grandkids, and it was a great day. Enjoy our adventure and photos!

Growing up in rural West Virginia, of course I heard about Molly Moocher hunting. When I finally went on "Molly Moocher Hunts", I will be the first to admit that I was not good at finding them. I did get lots of exercise hiking through the woods, and I really enjoyed the day, but I didn't have much luck with the find. Others would have a bag full, but I was lucky if I found one! It seemed like others just had the knack, but not me! In my defense, they are camouflaged with their surroundings and very difficult to spot!

I knew that the warm days in Spring were the best times to look for Molly Moochers, especially after a rain. My husband Charlie learned from the Master, his dad Foster Justice. Foster called them "Merkles", but we are not sure why. Possibly because some say they are Miracles? Charlie knew that there were certain areas that they seemed to grow more. Others in Charlie's family were very knowledgable, so I didn't have a chance!

We didn't see any Molly Moochers when we lived in South Louisiana. When we moved to our log home in the woods of the northeast, we still did not see any for the first couple of years.

This year at our new home was different! My husband Charlie found the first  Molly Moocher to the right of the 4-wheeler trail! A couple of days later, he saw a few more; one was right smack in the middle of the trail! Then the watch began! He starting picking them at the beginning of April, when the Dogwoods were starting to bloom.

Our Molly Moocher Hunt with 3 of our grandkids was about a week later. It was a beautiful Spring day, 75 degrees, and the Dogwoods were in full-bloom. We had had a few days with storms and showers followed by sunshine, so our "Expert" (alias Husband Charlie/Papaw) predicted that it would be a good day for a hunt. This would be our unofficial "Field Trip", a break from Home School. We set out in the afternoon, clad in short sleeves, with Charlie holding the empty bag. Charlie carried a mattock, and each of us carried a walking stick.


We soon started finding Molly Moochers! Charlie told me and kids how to break off the dirt on the ends as we picked them. We also shook them to allow spores to fall back to the ground.


Winner! Biggest of the Day!

Triple!
We were so excited to be finding so many! I even found a lot! I lost count at around 20, but at least it was more than one! Charlie said it was because I had a lucky walking stick!





It seemed like Molly Moochers really like Poplar trees, because we found most near those.


After a while, the boys got a little tired, so Alex climbed up in Papaw's tree stand. Alex and Noah then walked the short distance home. Mia persevered with Mamaw and Papaw.



Eventually Mia started home, also, and I walked with her. She found 2 more on her way back home! 




Charlie and I continued the Hunt! It was amazing that we found so many Molly Moochers this close to our house!





Our home in the woods!

At home, we did a math array of Molly Moochers! Total for the day=102




"Chef" Charlie cleaned them and rinsed them in salt water. 


He then rolled some of them in flour and fried them in Canola Oil until desired crispness. He added salt and pepper to taste. Butter can also be used for frying. They can be fried with scrambled eggs, and can be grilled. They are very versatile! 

Some like them with ketchup!



Recently, my husband and I have done a little online research, and here's some of our findings:
  • Experts say the ground needs to be around 50 degrees for them to grow. Basically, when it is in the 50s at night, it's a good indicator that they will be popping out of the ground.
  • They seem to like well drained soil.
  • They contain the most Vitamin D of all mushrooms.
  • They grow well after a fire.
  • In the USA, they grow from middle Tennessee north to Michigan, Wisconsin, and Vermont and also in some parts in the west.
We plan to do another hunt in a few days. Maybe it will be another great Field Trip!

An Array of Molly Moochers!


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