The thick-legged morel (Morchella esculenta) is one of those mushrooms that are listed in the Ukrainian Red Book. Fans of "quiet hunting" will certainly collect the first spring harvest of these delicious mushrooms in order to preserve it for the winter.
Where do thick-legged morels grow
Thick-legged morels prefer deciduous forests dominated by trees such as ash, poplar and hornbeam. You can also harvest a good harvest in areas that are abundantly covered with moss. The main condition for the growth of the fungus is fertile soil enriched with organic matter and microelements.
Most often, thick-legged morels are located in groups - about three fruiting bodies in one bundle. But there are also single specimens.
Attention! The first harvest can be observed in the spring - in April, May.
As for territorial preferences, the morel has a fairly extensive geographical coverage: the territory of North America, Western and Central Europe.
What do thick-legged morels look like?
The mushroom got its name due to its appearance: its fruit body has an impressive size and thickness. It will not be difficult to recognize the thick-legged morel for a number of signs:
- the cap has a size from 5 to 9 cm, diameter - from 3 to 5 cm, shape - cylindrical-conical or oval, color - yellowish-gray; very deep pits appear on its surface, and the edges can grow to the stalk, especially in mature specimens; by smell and taste, the pulp is pleasant, juicy;
- the height of the whole mushroom is 23 - 24 cm;
- the leg is of a hilly structure, thick, the length can vary from 4 cm to 17, it is about 6 cm in diameter, its color is yellowish-white, there are grooves on the entire surface that are located longitudinally; in structure, it does not have a "fleshy" filling and is hollow and very fragile;
- the seed material consists of spores, which are collected in a kind of cylindrical bags, each of them contains 8 ellipsoidal spores with a smooth surface and a color ranging from light yellow to a more saturated shade; spore powder has a different color, more creamy.
Is it possible to eat thick-legged morel
Thick-legged morel belongs to conditionally edible mushrooms. Therefore, it is important to know that this type of fruit bodies needs high-quality heat treatment, as well as subsequent washing.
Taste qualities of the morel mushroom
Connoisseurs of "quiet hunting" are not in vain put forward in search of thick-legged morels every spring. After all, this species belongs to those mushrooms that can be called incredibly tasty. Their fragile, but juicy pulp remains so even after roasting and preliminary boiling, and the aroma of the mushroom cannot be overpowered by even a large amount of spices.
Benefits and harm to the body
There are a number of useful substances and microelements in thick-legged morels, for which they are appreciated by lovers of quiet hunting:
- alimentary fiber;
- ash compounds;
- perfluorooctanoic acid.
In addition, the morel is low in calories - less than 20 kcal per 100 g. Thanks to this, the mushroom is considered dietary and suitable for use by people suffering from obesity, diabetes mellitus and other metabolic disorders in the body.
Regarding the harm, one can only note the fact that this species can be poisoned. But the risk of such problems occurring only if the mushrooms are improperly prepared. To destroy gelwellic acid (it is dangerous to health and is found in all types of morels), you just need to boil the harvested crop for 15 minutes. and rinse thoroughly under running water. Then the raw materials can be used to prepare various dishes.
False doubles of morels
It is extremely difficult to confuse the thick-legged morel with some other type of mushroom. The only option is to collect common morels, but they are edible mushrooms, so they do not pose any danger to life and health.
The rest of the varieties have a radically different appearance. This is especially noticeable in the shape of the cap and the size of the legs.
Rules for collecting morels of thick-legged
The first harvest can be observed already in April and May. On the territory of Crimea, this type of mushroom grows in March after the 15th. As a rule, in the autumn period, thick-legged morels no longer grow. But under the conditions of climate change in recent years in the southern territories of Russia, there has been a repeated harvest, which falls on September.
Regardless, experienced mushroom hunters know that it is best to harvest the first crop. It is in it that there are all the necessary vitamins and minerals inherent in this culture.
Regarding the places where the "quiet hunt" takes place, it is best to cut the fruit bodies away from busy places, roads and chemical industries. All these factors are negative, since the mushroom is able to accumulate harmful substances and heavy salts in its pulp, which are found in the ground and air.
Collecting a thick-legged representative is carried out by removing the leg from the soil, cutting the mushroom is also allowed.
Eating thickleg morels
Thick-legged morels are conditionally edible mushrooms. Many culinary experts use them dried, adding them to various dishes throughout the winter. If this option is preferable, then it is worth considering the important nuances of cooking dried morels:
- Fruit bodies must be cleaned of debris and dirt.
- Allow to dry slightly on a flat, dry surface.
- Cut into parts for convenience (specimens can be left intact).
- Dry in any convenient way (oven, open air, microwave, etc.).
- Such mushrooms can be used for food only 40 days after they are completely dried.
In addition to drying, thick-legged morels can be pre-boiled and then used for salting, pickling, frying, making soups and other dishes.
Important! Since ancient times, the thick-legged morel was considered a delicacy dish. Therefore, on its basis, many unique recipes have been created.
This culture is also used in medicine:
- Cap tincture - used as an external remedy for diseases such as rheumatism, arthrosis, arthritis.
- Decoction of the fruiting body - used internally for problems with digestion.
- From a decoction of hats - eye drops are prepared in the presence of myopia and farsightedness, to strengthen the eye muscles, with cataracts.
Attention! It is not recommended to prepare drops on your own. Therefore, it is best to look for a medicine that contains this mushroom.
Culture has an undoubted benefit on the entire body as a whole. Therefore, morels are often used by nutritionists in the preparation of a diet for those who need weight correction and stabilization of the body's metabolic processes.
Tolstopod morel is a tasty and healthy mushroom that is difficult to confuse with poisonous representatives, so even a beginner "quiet hunter" can unmistakably detect it.