Twelve edible mushrooms of the United States/Morchella esculenta

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Figure 7, illustrating a specimen of Morchella esculenta (from original text).

Morchella esculenta, Morel

This mushroom is known under a variety of names - Phallus esculentus, Helvella esculenta, etc. The genus Morchella has but few species, and most authors agree that all are edible. Berkeley considers the Morchella semilibera as doubtful. The head of the morel is deeply pitted, hollow, thin, and firm, and when fully grown is several inches in diameter. The morel is found in April and May, in grassy places, on the border of fields and the raised banks of streams, sometimes in fir or chestnut forests and in hilly countries. It prefers a calcareous ground and flourishes on wood ashes. In Germany, France, and England it is well known and highly esteemed. In the United States it is little known, although it grows in several of the States in great abundance. I have had specimens of it from Missouri, Wisconsin, and Maryland. Curtis speaks of finding it in North Carolina, but not in quantity. It is identical with the European morel. In Yorkshire, England, the women who gather cowslips for wine-brewing bring to market a few morels in the corners of their baskets and ask an extra shilling for them. The dried morel is used in parts of England to give flavor to certain kinds of sauce. Large quantities of this fungus, in a prepared condition, are imported into England from the continent.

The following receipt will illustrate one of the methods of cooking this excellent mushroom:

"Having washed and cleaned them from the earth which is apt to collect in the hollows of the plants, dry them thoroughly in a napkin, and put in a saucepan with pepper and salt and parsley, adding, or not, a piece of ham; stew for an hour, pouring in occasionally a little broth to prevent burning. When sufficiently done, bind with the yolks of two or three eggs and serve on buttered toast."