The Best Spring Mushroom
"Morels and Truffles are the aristocrats of the forest - The wild morels have a great flavor complexity and are more interesting to me. A lot of it is because of the hunt...
Both because of the thrill of the hunt with morels, and also because people are back in the woods. Life has begun again. So morels are as much a symbol of the beginning of Spring, a resurgence of life."
Visit wild-harvest.com to learn more about morel mushrooms, fiddleheads, wild leeks.
Fresh Wild Morels
"The morel is the best spring mushroom in my opinion," said mycologist Paul Stamets, author of "Growing Gourmet and Medicinal Mushrooms" (Ten Speed Press).
"The wild morels have a great flavor complexity and are more interesting to me. A lot of it is because of the hunt - you are so psychologically predisposed that they are going to taste better."
There are half a dozen edible varieties of morels, the color of which vary from tan or gray (often called a white morel) to golden and black. Their size ranges from 1 1/2 inches long to as much as 8 inches, but average 2 to 4 inches long.
Morel's taste has been described as smoky, but it is the earth that speaks in the deep flavor of the morel.
Jack Czarnecki, author of "The Cook's Book of Mushrooms", characterized morels and truffles as the aristocrats of the forest. He noted the spell the morel casts on mushroom hunters like himself. "The morel is the first mushroom to appear in the mushroom hunting season. Some hunters, with knife in one hand, basket in the other, fortified with a good bottle of zinfandel, venture forth in a state of excitement, which I think is unparalleled with any other time of the season," he said.
"Both because of the thrill of the hunt with morels, and also because people are back in the woods. Life has begun again. So morels are as much a symbol of the beginning of spring, a resurgence of life."
Selection in the Store
Fresh morels should be clean and (almost) dry to the touch. The aroma should be an earthy woodsy smell. Little bits of the woods (a pine needle or a bit of moss) may be seen - just pick it out. These are from the woods, after all.
Storage and Handlings
Morels are highly perishable and must be handled with care. However, you need never lose a fresh Morel to spoilage. The reason for this is that they may be readily dried and will keep very well in this form.
The key is to keep them cool and dry, with a little ventilation. In the refrigerator in a loosely closed paper bag is perfect. Do not store refrigerated in a sealed plastic bag! This keeps in the moisture and leads to rot. Store morels in a loosely covered container in the refrigerator until ready to use. Plenty of air circulation around them will keep your morels from spoiling. Before using, quickly rinse them and dry them with a towel.
To clean Fresh Morels it is best to brush them and pick off any dirt unless they are very dirty. If washing is required do so immediately before use to avoid storing wet mushrooms. Occasionally you may find a few tiny insect larvae munching on the inside of your Morels. Remind yourself that these guys know what's good and consider them extra protein. Unless there are a lot,don't think about it, just cook and enjoy.
Morels are among the most highly prized of all the Wild Harvest Mushrooms. The reason is plain. Their taste is superb!
Their great value may also be found in their elusiveness. While they often grow in profusion they may be very difficult to see - especially for the inexperienced.
The morel is widely appreciated by gourmets, who savor its earthy flavor.
Morels are marvelously flavorful and need little embellishment - simply saute in butter or a light oil. Add salt or soy sauce if needed. Enjoy!
grow in temperate latitudes around the world, in both conifer and hardwood
forests. In North America they emerge first along the West coast in
Early spring and later in much of the forested East, from the Appalachians
up through the Great Lakes region and through the Midwest to the west
coast of Washington, then finally down to Oregon, where they are known
to like recently burned forests or swamps.
The majority of harvest offered for commercial sale typically comes from Washington and Oregon with limited availability from Great Lakes and eastern states locations.
usual season for morels begins in the last two weeks of April and
lasts until early June. The season runs longer in Oregon, often
through August, because of the area's cool, moist air.
Three species are generally harvested: Morchella conica, M. angusticeps and M. esculenta.
the morels have a honeycombed, hollow, cone-shaped cap ranging in size
from 2 to 4 inches high and in color from a rich tan to an extremely
After hundreds of years in the attempt, mycologists have discovered a way to grow Morels under cultivation. This process was perfected in 1990 in Michigan and is now in production in Illinois. Year-round but limited availability at this time.
USE CAUTION in identifying any wild mushroom you intend to eat !
Do not rely on our descriptions to pick wild mushrooms. Rely on the expertise of experienced mushroom hunters and a quality field guide.
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As a rule of thumb, one pound of dried mushrooms will reconstitute to 6-8 pounds. These dried mushrooms will keep for months without refrigeration, and for a year or more if frozen.
If you are using dried morels in a recipe, reconstitute them by placing them in a saucepan and covering with water. Bring them to a full boil, then reduce the heat and simmer 30 minutes.
Drain through a filter or sieve, reserving the liquid for soups or sauces.
Reconstituted morels generally can be used like fresh ones, however the cooking time might be slightly longer.
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Morels & Wild Leeks
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"What really won us over were the mushrooms; fresh wild morels and chanterelles in season, fresh shiitake, porcini, woodear, black trumpet and lobster mushrooms; plus 15 dried varieties.
SmartMoney Magazine. February 2000