Back Roads Living

Morels, Dry Land Fish, Mountain Mushrooms

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Morels are a delicacy here in the Mountains of Kentucky. They are also known as Dry Land Fish, Hickory Chickens and Mountain Mushrooms here! The two most popular names I have heard them called are, Dry Land Fish and Hickory Chickens. Even with all the popularity of this moral, I find many people who still have never heard of them. This is a mushroom that people take off from work and will even go as far as taking a vacation day to go look for them during the best times. Hunting morels or as many folks have called them, Dry Land Fish and Hickory Chickens, has been a tradition for as long as I remember. I have included a recipe for these at the bottom of this article.

We were raised in the Southeastern part of Kentucky and there are all kinds of wooded areas here to find Morels in. Most of our region is made up of hardwood trees and mountainous acreage! The Back Roads we live on are not as Back Roads as it used to be as the population has grown, the acreage of hardwoods and mountains has decreased. Civilization is truly making a difference on where we find these delicious Morels. The most productive place in our neck of the woods was purchased a few years back and is now a mowed field! This forces us to look elsewhere for our beloved Dry Land Fish! I am yet to find another place in our close vicinity to find these Morels like we did before the small acreage was cleaned off and improved. Well, I guess it was an improvement for the new property owner but certainly not for us!

As I said earlier Morels are a sought after commodity here in Kentucky and all throughout the United States. The growing season will very form state.  They only have a short growing season and if you miss it you will have to wait until the next year to find them. The season usually last from late March or early April through early June. Folks travel many miles to search out these Morels! They are mainly found in the hardwood stands of timbers in the mountainous regions here in our area. I have found them very low and even in bottom like areas in certain tree stands. The two largest hauls I ever seen, one was on top a mountain of hardwood trees and the other was in a valley of small hardwoods. So, I guess you just have to keep a keen eye out for them!

Dry Land Fish or Morels are purchased all spring, from the time they begin to grow until the season is over and there is always a demand for them! As stated people travel many miles to hunt them and also to purchase them. If you have never had the pleasure of eating a mess of these delicious Morels or Dry Land Fish as they are commonly called, you have missed a most wonderful dish! There is no other meal or mushroom that I know of that will compare to these for taste.

Here in Kentucky there is a festival known as the Mountain Mushroom Festival. This is located in Irvine Kentucky. This is in the Southeastern part of the State also. Here is where literally thousands of people travel yearly to purchase these Morels or Dry Land Fish. The Mountain Mushroom Festival has been and continues to be a popular event every year it has been around. For those who have never tasted or who do not know what these wonderful Morels are, you can drop over to the Mountain Mushroom Festival Home Page and get you a mess of them there. Now when I mention “mess”, I am not talking about a clutter or something in disarray! I am referring to a serving of this Morel.
Morel mushrooms


The Mountain Mushroom Festival features many different businesses and people who have follow this Morel or Dry Land fish for years and they go all out during this time of year.  There are all kinds of Morel cookoffs and events to follow all week. Morel or Dry Land Fish hunts are coordinated throughout the event. They have they Morels, Dry Land Fish for sale during the festival and there is a wonderful atmosphere throughout the entire week.

So, if you have never tried these delicious Morels or Dry Land Fish as they are commonly called here on the Back Roads of Kentucky, you now have the option of doing so. If my memory serves me right you can also order you a mess of these wonderful mushrooms to have mailed to you for your pleasure! If you give these a try and enjoy them please stop back by and let us know!

How to prepare and fix Morels or Dry Land Fish.

  1. First add approx 1 teaspoon of salt in a gallon of water in a large bowl. (If this is not enough water to cover the mushroom add salt and water as needed)
  2. Place mushrooms in the bowl and put in the refrigerator overnight. (You no doubt will find bugs the next morning, this is common) The mushrooms are very porous and bugs like to hide in them.
  3. Drain and rinse off the morels well. (I use a colander)
  4. Beat a couple of eggs well in a bowl and split the mushrooms in half.
  5. Dip Morals in the egg, allow excess to drain and roll in a flour and meal mixture.
  6. Drop in a skillet of hot grease and allow to cook through. You may have to turn them to cook both sides if you do not have a deep fryer.

These can also be sauteed in butter. Just add enough butter in the skillet to cover the bottom of the skillet and add your mushrooms and saute on medium heat until golden on both sides. Now. server while still warm.

Remember, morels only have about a 2 – 3 day refrigerator life so fix them soon after you get them.

In both recipes above, you can add salt or pepper to taste.

Check out our other article on the Mountain Mushroom Festival, Morels or Dry Land Fish.


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