Morel mushrooms are elusive and only grow in the wild. People have to go mushroom hunting just to get a hold of them during spring. Morel mushrooms are very different from the farmed mushrooms that you can find almost anywhere, but that does not exclude them from becoming highly desired among mushroom enthusiasts.
Some mushrooms are poisonous, but morel mushrooms do not fall into that category. There have been attempts to cultivate this wonder fungus, but it seems to resist cultivation. It has a distinct look, so you can easily recognize it by its cone-shaped cap and sponge-like texture. They have a web of thin veins that look like a honeycomb and have a color you can describe as beige, brown, or black.
What do morel mushrooms taste like? Unlike regular mushrooms, morels have a unique taste. The flavor of morel mushroom is nutty and earthy. The darker the color of the mushroom, the more earthy its flavor. The taste could be described as smoky and musky and its texture is fleshy, not slimy like some other mushrooms.
The taste of morel mushrooms is exquisite. Chefs regard it as premium, in the same category as caviar or truffles. Like every other mushroom out there, morels have a doppelgänger called false morels. They are poisonous, so you should watch out for them.
Nutritional Benefits of Morel Mushrooms
Mushrooms have a lot of health benefits for the body. Morel mushrooms do not just taste delicious, they help one’s well-being by a great deal. Mushrooms grow in questionable places. They have to thrive in places where bacteria are present in abundance, and they do a good job cleaning these bacteria from the surrounding soil to survive.
Mushrooms have antibacterial benefits and are high in Beta-D Glucans and Polysaccharides that have been known to boost the immune system. They can also stop the development of tumors in the body.
Morel mushrooms have a good store of antioxidants. It contains a substantial amount of fiber and has a very low fat content. It also plays host to different kinds of vitamins and holds a lot of benefits for the body.
Antioxidants play an important role in the body. They protect the cells in the body from free radicals, which are rogue molecules in the body. Free radicals cause heart disease, meaning that eating morel mushrooms is good for your heart. Antioxidants could also prevent Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, relieve oxidative stress and remove reactive oxygen species from the body.
Morel mushrooms contain high amounts of copper and potassium. They both contribute to a healthy heart and improve the overall well-being of the body. Morel mushrooms contain one of the highest amounts of vitamin D when compared to other mushrooms. A 100 gram serving of morel mushroom supplies the body with 34 percent of the recommended daily intake for vitamin D.
The liver is responsible for ridding the body of toxins, and it seems morel mushrooms hold some benefit for the liver. There is an inorganic compound, Carbon Tetrachloride (CCl4), which is known to be the major cause of problems with our kidneys, liver, and central nervous system. With the presence of ethanol, CCl4 is even more dangerous for the liver. However, studies carried out have shown that an extract from morel mushrooms can protect the liver against the effects of CCl4.
Culinary Uses of Morel Mushrooms
These mushrooms are regarded as premium ingredients. They are delicate and need to be handled with care in the kitchen. Morel mushrooms are picked from dirty places, so they need to be properly cleaned before you cook them. You can clean morel mushrooms by swishing them in cool water. Morel mushrooms soak up water, get soggy and get spoiled easily, so don’t clean them if you are not ready to cook them.
Morel mushroom pairs well with asparagus, after cleaning, it doesn’t require much preparation to be ready for use in the kitchen. The mushroom can be cooked whole, chopped into halves or quarters. Morel mushrooms cannot be enjoyed raw; eating raw morels can cause cramps and lead to an upset stomach.
Morel mushrooms can be fried; they are first dipped in batter before you coat them with any coating of your choice. After coating them, you can fry them in butter in a skillet over medium heat. The coating could be bread crumbs or crackers just to give your meal some class. The best way to get the flavor out of morel mushrooms is by sautéing. The mushrooms can be sautéed by cooking them in batches in a dry skillet till they turn golden brown. Morel mushrooms can be used as toppings on pizza after they have been cooked.
Where Can You Find Morel Mushrooms?
There are several species of morel mushrooms, but only two are very common; black morels and yellow morels. They are both regarded as true morels, you can eat them, and they have hollow insides.
Morel mushrooms grow in the wild. They can be found in the wooded areas of North America and Europe. Today they might pop in your backyard and the next, they are gone. Morel mushrooms usually appear from March till June. They are one of the first signs of spring in the woods. The appearance of morel mushrooms is also dependent on the weather, too much or not enough rain could affect the morel season.
If you are not brave enough to be a morel forager when it is in season, there are spots where morel mushrooms will be sold by the pound. If you have a lot of patience, you might be able to find frozen morel mushrooms for sale online.
Why are Morel Mushrooms Expensive?
Morel mushrooms are very difficult to cultivate, there have been attempts in China and in Michigan to cultivate them, but the measure of quality and taste of these cultivated morels are under scrutiny. Morels are expensive because they are not available all year round, they have to be foraged, and are delicate and highly perishable.
Facts You Don’t Know About Morel Mushrooms
- False morel mushrooms have a reddish-brown or yellow cap, unlike true morels, they are not hollow inside and their texture seems to be brain-like. Their appearance looks disfigured and limp instead of being firm and upright like true morels.
- Morel mushrooms can be preserved by drying them; dried morels have a shelf life of six months.