Morels are edible mushrooms that also go by the names of dryland fish, sponge mushrooms or miracles. These mushrooms can be found in North America but are often hard to locate. They are one of the most prized of all wild mushrooms because of their flavor and are used in many different recipes. The tops of the morel mushrooms resemble honeycomb on the surface of the hollow, cone-shaped caps and can grow up to a foot tall.
Morel mushrooms can be found growing in most regions in the springtime. Morels need a warm air and ground temperature and plenty of moisture. Generally you can find morels growing from mid-April to mid-June.
Morel mushrooms can be found growing in most regions in the springtime. Morels need a warm air and ground temperature and plenty of moisture. Generally you can find morels growing from mid-April to mid-June. Check with your local extension agency to find out when morels are being spotted in your area.
Storage and Handling
Morel mushrooms are perishable foods. Proper storage is necessary or the mushrooms will rot quickly. Keep the mushrooms in the refrigerator in a loosely closed paper bag. The mushrooms will dry out and will keep for several weeks. Do not keep the mushrooms in a plastic bag, this will hold in the moisture and the morels will ruin. Clean the morels immediately before using them. Do not wash them before storing, this will only add to their moisture. Fresh morels should feel dry to touch and have a woodsy smell.
Morels are used most often in recipes in fine restaurants. They are not successfully grown commercially so restaurant owners will often pay as much as $50 a pound for these flavorful mushrooms. The most common way to cook them is to sauté them in butter and top them lightly with cracked pepper and salt.
Be careful when searching for morels. You need someone who knows the difference between the false morels and the edible morels. The false morels look very much like the edible varieties but are poisonous. Edible morels are toxic when eaten raw so cook them to remove the toxins. Morels can cause poisoning when eaten while drinking alcohol so avoid alcoholic beverages as a precaution.