Market Report for May 17th
It was another beautiful night for the Toledo Farmers' Market. There was a large crowd to begin the market. Nine vendors came to market this Friday market night. Those that attended were Kristi, Devin, Chuck, Ginger, Elle, Darold, Dawn, Cheryl, and Frances. New vendors this week were Larry and Caryn with their cotton candy machine. That cotton candy sure smells good.
Items that were available were radishes, green onions, rhubarb, asparagus, eggs, popcorn, herbs fresh and dry, perennials, cabbage plants, ceramics, jams, jellies, pies, cookies, kolaches, rolicky, breads, home made angel food cakes, rosettes, snack mixes, honey, home made dog biscuits, caramel corn, and morel mushrooms. Each week more vendors appear and more items become available on the tables. Be sure to mark your calendar for May 31, Smokin G's from Marshalltown will be at market selling their mouth watering pulled pork and other sandwich items.
It's that time of the year to hunt morel mushrooms. Morel mushrooms are a gourmet prize. Everyone has their secret way of hunting them, their secret spots to hunt for them. Some even find them under their pine trees in their back yards. Since they are fragile, highly perishable, and resist cultivation they tend to be a little pricey.
Morel mushrooms are no longer just for those willing to muck around in the timber. Today you can find them at your local farmers markets. Since 2010 the State of Iowa requires anyone that sells morels to restaurants, farmers markets, or even to a neighbor need to attend a workshop to receive certification once every three years. In this workshop it is covered what morels look like and what's mistaken for morels and what happens when people eat those other mushrooms. It isn't pretty! Iowa adopted the federal regulations from the FDA.
The morel mushroom is the only wild mushroom that can be sold at markets. The inspector and the seller of the morel mushrooms need to keep detailed records. And the seller of the morel mushroom needs to obtain a Farmers Market potential Hazardous Food License. If you want to sell morel mushrooms and need a "Certified Morel Mushroom Identifier" your in luck; there are two of them at the Toledo Farmers' Market. Those two are Ginger Werner and Dawn Troutner. Bet you didn't know that.
If you are wondering how to find a morel mushroom, look for them in or on the edge of the timber. You can find them often growing around dead or dying trees. Dead elms seem to be the tree of choice. But you can also find them in old apple orchards. When a tree reaches the stage of decay where its bark is slipping off its trunk, you'll often find lots of morels around it. As the season progresses you find bigger, yellow morels. They are easier to spot than the earlier gray ones. Some say the gray have a better flavor. They say if you hunt them, carry them in a basket, or mesh bag. This helps them from getting too moist and lets their spores fall through and spread around the area, causing more to grow for next year. Some say pinch them off to leave the root for "seed".
They grow by spores, not by the root of a pinched off morel. Some say that by the time a morel pops up, the 1st breeze will blow the spore further, spreading the spores and by the time you pick them they will already be sporeless. So many theories, so little time to morel mushroom hunt.