If you're lucky enough to hunt up a batch of morel mushrooms this season, learn to prepare, cook and preserve your morels simply and deliciously with our guide.
Storage While Gathering
When you gather your shrooms, cut them just above the root. (Leave the root in the ground to promote future mushroom growth.) The stalks and bulbs are edible. While gathering and transporting morels, be sure they get plenty of air circulation. Gather morels in a mesh bag. Paper bags also will work for gathering and transportation back to your home.
To Slice or Not to Slice?
If you gathered your morels in a particularly sandy area, (or if you're worried about critters) slice your morels in half lengthwise before rinsing or soaking. The hollow morels can gather debris and bugs in their centers. You can leave morels whole if you like. Presentation is a definite plus for whole morels, but some debris may remain inside the mushrooms.
Rinse or Soak?
All morels should be at least lightly rinsed when you get them home to remove dirt and debris. If you choose only to rinse, it's much easier to do so if you slice the morels in half lengthwise. To get all the debris out of your morels, you can soak them in cool water for up to an hour.
Some morel hunters choose a salt bath. Adding a touch of salt to the water ensures critter removal. But beware, the morels will absorb the salt so it will impact their natural flavor. Drain the shrooms thoroughly after soaking to prevent them from getting soggy.
Storage Prior to Cooking
If you're cooking your morels soon, layer the prepped mushrooms in a container and cover with a damp towel. Cotton cloths are best since paper towels impart a bit of paper flavor into the morels. Store in the refrigerator until cooking time. They will keep about three to four days.
Cooking Fresh Morels
The best way to try morels if you're new to the mushroom is with a simple butter or coconut oil saute. Slice the mushrooms and saute in butter or coconut oil (preferably in an iron skillet) over medium heat for about 5-7 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste. Eat your morels as a side or add them to eggs to enjoy their rich, meaty flavor.
If you're looking for new morel adventures, try these wild mushroom recipes with your morels:
- Wild Mushroom and Black Truffle Organic Risotto
- Osso Buco Served with Wild Mushroom Risotto
- Roasted Organic Wild Mushrooms on Pita Toasts
- Braised Organic Lamb Shanks with Wild Mushrooms served on Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes
If you're not cooking your morels soon or you're lucky enough to have extras, you can dry out your shrooms after rinsing or soaking. If you don't have a dehydrator, use a needle and thread or fishing line to string the morels up in a warm, dry, well-ventilated place. Check on the morels after three days and then daily until completely dry.
If you have a food dehydrator, dry morels in a single layer at about 110 degrees Fahrenheit for about 10 hours. Either way, store the dried morels in airtight containers in a cool, dry place. These dried morels can be reconstituted with about 20 minutes of soaking or added to soups.
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