Spring will be coming soon, and with it will come morels. Morel mushrooms are one of the most delicious of the edible wild mushroms, with a wonderfully complex, rich earthy taste. They are also highly nutritious.
If you live in a forested area, you may have some luck foraging for them in the early spring. See our article here to learn how to find morels. Some people have also reported good results growing morels.
But the easiest way to get ahold of morels is to visit your local farmer’s market or gourmet grocery store.
Read on to learn how to prepare and cook your morel mushrooms.
Ingredients and Supplies
- Morels. Make sure you select good ones (see below).
- Extra virgin olive oil (any cooking oil will work, but olive oil is best).
- Garlic / Onions / Shallots (your choice)
- Sharp knife
- Frying pan
- Soy Sauce
- Half Lemon
Selecting Your Morels
The most important part of preparing morel mushrooms is selecting the right ones. Morels tend to soften and rot, so choose ones that are firm on the outside, and avoid ones that feel spongy. Larger morels are more likely to suffer from rot, as they are often older, so stick to smaller ones. That said, if you find bigger ones that are fresh, then, by all means, grab them and cook them!
Also, be sure to check the morels for insects and worms. They are wild mushrooms, so there are bound to be a few creatures that have set up camp in the little folds in the morels’ caps. A few insects or worms aren’t a problem, as you’ll remove them in the next step. But you want to avoid mushrooms with a heavy infestation.
Your morels should be relatively free from debris. You should also make sure that they are as dry as possible, as any moisture on the mushroom could lead to a spongier texture.
If you’re picking your mushrooms from the wild, be aware that there is a poisonous species of mushroom called the “False Morel,” which looks identical to the morel on the outside. Identifying morels in the wild is beyond the scope of this article, so be sure to pick any wild morels with an experienced mushroom hunter so that you do not pick a poisonous mushroom by mistake.
Cleaning Your Morels
The next step in preparing morels is to clean them. You will need to examine them carefully, taking care to spot any dirt, worms, or insects. You can use a dry pastry brush or a basting brush to clean off any debris.
It is best not to use any water in the cleaning process. But if, after cleaning your morels, you feel that there may still be some dirt, you can rinse them by running cold water over them briefly to remove any remaining debris. You want to do this quickly, as moisture will affect the taste and texture of the mushroom.
Cutting and Trimming the Mushrooms
Now that the mushrooms have are clean, it’s time to cut them.
First, you’ll need to cut off the dirty, hard portion of the stems. Use a sharp knife, and cut carefully, taking care not to crush the morel as you hold it. Once you have trimmed the stems, cut the morels in half. You may even need to cut the morels into quarters if they are large.
Note, your morels should be hollow inside. Identifying wild mushrooms is beyond the scope of this article, but you should know that there is another species of mushrooms that looks like morels but is poisonous. The non-poisonous morels are hollow; the poisonous false morels are solid.
How to Cook Morel Mushrooms
To cook your morels, add some oil to the frying pan and heat it up. Once the oil is hot, add the mushrooms and stir them around so that the oil coats them. Then reduce the heat to medium-low and let the morels cook for several more minutes, occasionally stirring to prevent burning.
Once the mushrooms have softened and browned, turn down the heat a bit and add in any garlic, shallots, or onions. Let simmer for a few more minutes while the garlic and onions brown.
Finally, add a tablespoon or two of butter to the mix and let melt. We find that it’s best to wait until the end to add the butter; if you add it earlier, it can burn before the morels have become sufficiently browned.
Stir the melting butter into the morels, making sure that the butter coats the mushrooms completely.
From there, you can add this delicacy to any dish, or simply enjoy them plain. If we are eating our morels plain, we like to add a bit of soy sauce and lemon juice to enhance the earthy flavor a bit. You can add some salt and pepper, too, if you like.
As you have seen, it is easy to cook morel mushrooms., You will find that they are as delicious as they are nutritious. Enjoy!
If you would like to learn some new ways to cook mushrooms, including Morels, these cookbooks are a great place to start.
Mushrooms: Deeply Delicious Recipes, From Soups and Salads to Pasta and Pies — This cookbook has all kinds of mushroom recipes, with many vegetarian options.
The Mushroom Cookbook: A Guide to Edible Wild and Cultivated Mushrooms — This cookbook will show you how to cook all kinds of mushrooms, both wild and store-bought.
Healing Mushrooms: A Practical and Culinary Guide to Using Mushrooms for Whole Body Health — If you’re interested in the medicinal and healing properties of mushrooms, you will find this cookbook to be useful.
For a more detailed overview about cooking mushrooms, see our article The Essential Guide to Cooking Mushrooms.
And see our main recipe page for tons of other mushroom recipe ideas.
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