Morel season is in the early Spring, from mid-April to the end of May, depending on where you live. After they arrive, they typically grow for about a month and then die out. If you want fresh morels, you need to be ready to buy them during this time. Dried or otherwise prepared morels are available year-round from specialty sellers.
Fresh morels are best found at farmer’s markets or local food co-ops. Large grocery chains rarely carry them because of their short shelf life and short season. When you do find them, buy some to eat fresh and also get some to dry or freeze so you can have them later. Believe me, you won’t regret it!
If you live in an area where morels grow in the wild, getting them from a local mushroom forager is a good bet. Most foragers will happily sell them to you if they have had a good harvest year. In fact, you may see local town or city postings in person or online from local foragers looking to sell their finds. If you buy from a forager, make sure it is someone who is qualified to hunt mushrooms and preferably has some endorsement. This can mean others vouch for her/him or they have an actual foragers certificate. Most foragers don’t have any proof of their expertise except word of mouth from others who have bought from them. There is no accreditation or skill level you need to achieve to hunt and sell mushrooms. It is a true buyer beware marketplace. Make sure you know what a morel mushroom looks like before you buy anything and read up on look-alikes. It is up to you to ensure you are purchasing the correct thing.
If you live in an area where morels don’t grow in the wild, finding fresh morels will be much more difficult. A food co-op might get some shipped in from somewhere else if you are lucky. The quality likely won’t be that great though, depending on how far they have been shipped. Morel mushrooms do not hold up well to long travel distances or excessive handling.
There are some retail companies online that sell fresh morels while they are in season. This isn’t the best option since they have to travel so far but when no other options are available, it is one. Other online companies sell flash-frozen morels. This is a good option for when you want them outside their short season or if they don’t grow where you are located. Frozen morels thaw quickly and can be used in recipes the same way as fresh morels. Research any online company before buying to make sure they are legitimate.
Fresh morels are highly sought and highly valued by all who love them, including some very celebrated chefs and restaurants. Supplies can be very limited, quite expensive, and sell out quickly. If you love morels, try to find a good source before the season starts so you are prepared. Reach out to local foragers, contact your food co-ops, or place an order online before the season even starts. Of course, Mother Nature has a lot to say about how prolific the harvests will be so try not to be disappointed if you miss them. Dried and prepared morels are always available from different retailers and work almost as well as fresh ones in many dishes.