Now we know why the Morel is such an expensive item to buy in the market?
One of the many interesting events that took place over the weekend Uzumlu mushroom festival was the chance to take part in a real Morel foraging trip.
The genus Morchella (Morel in English and Kuzugöbeği in Turkish) contains tens and maybe hundreds of species. Appearing in spring, they have figured prominently in European cuisine for hundreds of years, and are one of the most valuable of natural products.
These mushrooms have so far not been successfully raised commercially.
They are difficult to find, but when they are found are in smaller numbers than some other species, with the result that they are a valuable commodity.
But the Fethiye area with its remarkable geographical, climatic, and biological variety is one area where the Morels and many other mushroom species grow in some quantity.
So we jumped at the chance to find out where these tasty little fungi grew and booked our place on the Saturday afternoon forage.
Our guides for the afternoon trip included Ali and the Uzumlu village Muhtar.
We joined up with an international group of foragers from the UK , USA, Turkey and Germany.
After a short bus trip we were dropped off half way on the road towards the ancient city of Cadyanda that sits on the mountain above Uzumlu.
The mountain side was busy as other foragers many of whom were students from Mugla University.
After a short walk along the main dirt road our guides pointed us off the road towards a steep rocky outcrop high above us.
“Go up there and you’re bound to find some” they said.
So we grabbed a stick for help and made our way up the steep slopes.
After about half an hour of strenuous climbing we hadn’t spotted anything, but help was soon at hand.
The Muhtar caught up with us and in a matter of minutes pointed out one of the conical shaped fungi poking out from under the pine needles.
It was a Morel!
He told us we needed to walk more slowly and keep our eyes scanning for the unique shape of this mushroom.
His keen eye was a great help and once we had spotted a real live Morel in the flesh we started spotting more and more.
We also spotted other types of fungi, some poisonous, as well as a small Scorpion too!
But despite the size of our group we only managed to harvest around 15 Morels.
With all the effort we expended to find so few Morels we can appreciate why they sell for so much in the local markets (around 40 TL).
At the end of the walk I asked Ali one of our guides why they choose this particular time to stage the event.
He said “It’s a tricky thing to plan for because the weather needs to be just right. If it’s too cold and dry they won’t grow. But we have been lucky. The weather is warm and the rain earlier in the week has encouraged them to sprout!”
Well our group of foragers were certainly pleased with their finds even if they were exhausted after the strenuous walk.
Congratulations to all of those people who organised the event and to Alec Rylands for making sure the event programme and announcements were translated into English.