The morel is a spring mushroom. It is one of the most difficult mushrooms to spot in the forest so it’s not surprising that some people use the term morel hunting. Once you’ve found one, it’s not a bad idea to kneel down as this is how you can sometimes discover others that are almost impossible to see if you stay upright.
Picking wild mushrooms is serious business. To learn how to properly identify them, join a circle of mycologists or better, sign up for introductory mycology courses.
Fresh morels can be stored in a brown paper bag for 3 to 4 days in the refrigerator. They are cleaned just before cooking or preparing them for freezing. To clean them, they are immersed in a basin of cold water for a few minutes, drained and placed on absorbent paper or clean cotton cloths. It is not necessary to blanch the morels to freeze them. We spread them out by spacing them on plates and we freeze them before putting them in plastic bags.
Half-thaw them for about 30 minutes at room temperature before cooking them. To dry fresh morels, cut them in half lengthwise before putting them in a dehydrator. Dried morels have a more pronounced and less delicate taste than fresh or frozen morels. To rehydrate them, they are soaked in water for 2 to 5 hours. I use the steeping water in little quantity as I find it gives a strong flavor in a dish. Occasionally I use a small amount in a sauce or soup.
The morel flavor goes well with poultry, veal, pork and potatoes. Like all wild mushrooms, they should be cooked for a minimum of 10 minutes and should never be served raw. A simple cooking consists of cooking them in butter for 2 minutes over low heat, cover and cook for 5 minutes, uncover and cook stirring frequently until golden .
Here is a recipe for morels with bacon and cream to enjoy as a side vegetable or with potato pancakes.