Last season North Spore visited one of our favorite foragers at his home and facility in Washington State.
Jeremy Faber is the owner of Foraged & Found Edibles and regularly supplies North Spore with fresh foraged mushrooms. Washington State has huge flushes of wild morels in the spring and summer and they grow in areas of forest that suffered from forest fires the year before.
Hiking through burned forest is an incredible experience and unlike any other foraging experience. Tromping through ash, getting covered in soot, and being bitten by hundreds of mosquitos, all in search of a valuable and delicious fungus.
Check out this video we produced after an incredible morel hunt where Jeremy talks about foraging summer burn morels!
Though they grow abundantly in the western states, Morels remain somewhat rare in New England.
Last year another forager friend of ours from New Hampshire, Tim Nolin, brought us a morel he found growing in burned pitch pine forest. As a forester, Tim often finds large flushes of edible fungi, but these were particularly special.
Burn morels aren't normally found on the East Coast nor are they documented in any scientific literature.
One amazing feature of fungi is the relative ease and ability to clone and produce mushroom spawn from wild specimens found in nature. The North Spore laboratory team was able to take the specimen and clone the culture onto a petri dish and store it on a slant (a test tube with agar). All of North Spore's cultures are held on petri dishes and in our deep freezer for long term storage, and this morel was the newest addition to the collection.
Since then we've been able to grow the culture out onto sawdust and provide this *experimental* mushroom spawn to our customers.
Wild New England burn morels have never been documented in nature, and definitely haven't been cultivated. If we were to venture a guess to the best place to start experimenting with this spawn, we'd say mimic nature! Find some burned pitch pine forest, or use burned pitch pine as a substrate and inoculate outdoor beds.
We can't guarantee success, but mushroom cultivation is all about experimentation! Just this week we found a beautiful morel growing out of a crack in the sidewalk in Westbrook, Maine. It was just a stone's throw from our facility! Soon we'll have this morel cloned and in our culture bank too!