Saturday, May 10, 2014

Preserving Morel Mushrooms

You found them! The elusive prized mushroom known as the... Morel Mushroom. Here is how to keep these prized beauties to enjoy them all year long.

There are a few maintenance things to be done before you enjoy your lucky finds.
  • First things first...If there is any question about the type of mushroom you just picked, do not eat it! Check out my tutorial on how to find Morel Mushrooms.
  • Secondly, be aware that morels contain small amounts of hydrazine toxin that is removed through cooking. Do not eat morel mushrooms raw, ever.
  • And of course be aware the you just picked food from the ground, out in nature. That means not only is there dirt on the morel but there could also be other living things on it as well, like bugs or small slugs. To remove these items from the mushroom simply sprinkle them with salt and then cover with cold water. Place the mushrooms into the refrigerator for about 8 hours or overnight to remove anything unwanted.

On to how to prepare these gems. One of the best and simplest ways to enjoy morels is by gently sauteing them in butter with a little fresh ground pepper and a sprinkling of salt.

Or you could soak the mushrooms in an egg batter and bread them with flour, then fry them up. If you slice the mushroom length wise and then bread and flour, the outline resembles a fish. Another common name for morel mushrooms are dryland fish.

If you are not planning on eating your morels right away you can explore the following preserving ideas:
  • Freezing:
    • The morels can frozen through a method called flash freezing. You can do this by running the mushrooms under cold water or soaking them in a bowl of ice water for a few minutes. Then place them on a cookie sheet or pizza pan and place into a freezer. After the mushrooms are frozen, place them in a labeled container or freezer-safe plastic bag.
  • Drying / Dehydrating: (the method I use most)
    • Drying is the most popular method of long-term storage and are sold this in this fashion commercially. When I dry morels, I like to chop them prior to drying as then they will be recipe ready. 
    • Place mushrooms in a single layer on the dehydrator pans. Set your dehydrator to 130° F for 10-12 hours.
    • Dried morels can be reconstituted by soaking in warm water or milk.
  • Canning:
    • Canning is not recommended because the canning pressure and temperature destroys much of the flavor.
In a post coming soon is a delicious recipe for using your morels.