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Here are some shots I promised of my last big bounty. These mushrooms are very common up here [eastern Washington/Idaho] right around the first thaw. They're known as, amongst other things, Brains, Snowbank Morels, Bull's Nose, Walnut. . .or Gyromitra gigas.
I used to think they were just as good as the true morels, but after finding a few of those last week, I take it back.
The appeal of brains is that they are very abundant and large.
There is a toxicity issue, sources vary. The presumed compound is volatile [similar to rocket fuel] and so thorough cooking or drying is thought to make them sufficiently 'safe'. I've heard also that the toxicity may vary from region to region, so that Brains collected on the east coast might be a different story.
People have been eating these around here for centuries.
Another nice thing about brains is that they thrive even when it drops below freezing. This keeps the bugs away, whereas regular morels seem to come out just about the same time as the flies :(