What's this about cooking with morels & what are they exactly?
Cooking with morels is a sure way to impress even the pickiest of dinner guests. These wild mushrooms are a rare delicacy and cooking with them can be intimidating, but please don’t worry because we are going to explain how to properly cook your morels in this article.
Morels are one of the most prized gourmet edible mushrooms on the market. They are valued for their meat-like qualities and can be sold fresh or dried. Almost all commercially traded morels are wild-harvested, growing naturally in remote places far from pollution and human activity.
Morels have a distinct shape that is unlike other mushrooms. They resemble pine cones but with a honeycomb pattern on their upper surface. They are also completely hollow making them ideal for stuffing!
While Morels are part of the fungal kingdom, Morels actually belong to a distinct taxonomic ranking that separates them from other conventional mushrooms. This lineage of mushroom-forming fungi in the phylum is known as Ascomycota.
What Do Morels Taste Like?
To put it simply, Morels are delicious. Even non-mushroom lovers end up loving them after trying them! This is why they are often considered among the most prized of all fungi. Their flavor is rich in umami and resembles that of beef. Its texture isn’t slimy like that of other mushrooms but instead is highly reminiscent of meat. When well cooked or fried in oil their texture can become crispy and often compared to the skin of roasted chicken!
Many people who don’t like any other mushrooms will make exceptions for morels. That’s because morels are an exceptionally delicious mushroom!
How Do You Re-hydrate Dried Morels?
Re-hydrating dried morels is easy. Just submerge them in warm water for 20-30 minutes or cold water for 1 hour. Afterwards, the crispy dried morels will become hydrated and ready for cooking. Make sure to save the broth left over after re hydrating the morels. This can be used in soups or sauces!
Can You Eat Morels Raw?
DO NOT eat morels raw. When cooking with morels be sure to always cook on high heat. While morels are perfectly safe to eat after cooking, raw morels can be toxic. Consuming raw morels can induce diarrhea, vomiting, and fever. Thankfully, consuming raw morels is not mortal and will very rarely require hospitalization. If you ate morels raw and are having a serious adverse reaction, consider seeking medical attention to avoid any complications.
Cooking with morels: The Perfect Sauté
The key to cooking with morels is to not over complicate it. Just heat up a pan, add butter or oil, and add fresh or re-hydrated morels. If you’d like you could also add onions and garlic. Cook the morels until they begin to change colour and begin turning crispy. At this point, you can remove the morels from heat and use them as a topping on almost any food! Alternatively, you can add cream or make a flour-based gravy with the broth leftover from re-hydration.
Are Morels Good For You?
Morels can form a healthy part of your diet and can act as a good source of proteins and vitamins. They also contain anti-oxidative, anti-inflammatory, immunostimulatory, and anti-tumour properties. If you are incorporating Morels into your diet for health reasons it is recommended to not cook them with excessive oil and to not consume them with unhealthy foods. Healthy pairings for morels include salads, steamed veggies, and whole-grain carbohydrates like brown rice.
What Is The Nutritional Value Of Morels?
The nutritional values below are from data acquired from the USDA and according to the FDA daily recommended values.
% Daily Value
Vitamins and Minerals
- Vitamin D: 26% of the daily value
- Riboflavin (B2): 16% DV
- Niacin (B3): 14% DV
- Vitamin B6: 8% DV
- Vitamin C: 3% DV
- Thiamin (B1): 6% DV
- Pantothenic acid (B5): 9% DV
- Choline: 4% DV
- Folate: 2% DV
- Vitamin E: 0.1% DV
- Copper: 70% DV
- Iron: 68% DV
- Manganese: 26% DV
- Zinc: 18% DV
- Phosphorus: 16% DV
- Potassium: 9% DV
- Magnesium: 5% DV
- Calcium: 3% DV
- Selenium: 4% DV
- Sodium: 1% DV
Foods That Go Good With Morels
- Mashed or Baked Potatoes
- Pasta with Cream Sauce
- Brothy Soups
- Plain or Seasoned
- Toast with Avocado or Butter
- Scrambled or Fried Eggs
- Quesadillas and Tacos
- Cheese and Cheesy Dishes
Where Can You Buy Morels in Canada?
Not everyone has the time or confidence to wild-harvest morels. Not to mention morels do not occur in abundance just anywhere. Thankfully, there are many pickers who dedicate their time to pick and sell them during morel season. These can be found in many gourmet food stores and online. Unfortunately, many vendors over-price their customers or offer inferior quality morels. If you’re unsure where to get morels, check out our high-quality morels here! These are wild-harvested in the remote Canadian wilderness and are guaranteed to please the palate!
Where Can I Forage For Morels?
Morels can be foraged throughout the coniferous and hardwood forests of the Americas. They primarily grow in spring and occur in the highest abundance in the west of the Rockies in recently burned forests. To find out more information about where and how to forage morels check out our article that specifically focuses on this topic here!
Can You Grow Morel Mushrooms?
Many individuals, researchers, and institutions have tried to grow morels with mixed results. While it is possible to grow them it is considered extremely difficult and techniques are kept secret. Chinese researchers have invested millions of dollars into the morel cultivation industry but still haven’t perfected the technique. Until now efforts for Morel cultivation in China have had some success but are largely considered experimental and economically unsustainable. More recently in 2022, Danish researchers have published information suggesting they have developed a standardized and economically viable method for the indoor cultivation of Morel mushrooms.
Can You Freeze Morels?
While dehydration is the most common method to preserve Morels they can also be frozen. The trick when freezing morels is to cook them before freezing so they can best preserve their flavor. Freezing fresh morels can result in a less favorable texture once they are thawed. Dehydrated morels can also be frozen to further extend their shelf-life although this is not always necessary.
Can You Be Allergic To Morels?
Allergies to Morel mushrooms are not common but could be possible. If you have a history of allergic reactions to food products, consider only eating small quantities your first time. If you are experiencing adverse reactions after eating morel mushrooms it could be due to eating them undercooked or possibly due to an unrelated food item.
Can You Eat Too Many Morels?
As long as Morels are well cooked and properly prepared they can be incorporated into your daily diet with no problems.