Morel mushrooms are premium, expensive ingredients used by chefs worldwide. They have an unusual appearance, but their flavor makes up for it. What do morel mushrooms taste like? We have an entire article about their flavor profile. Read on to find out why you should give these mushrooms a try.
Morel mushrooms or Morchella esculenta are edible mushrooms. They are known for their honeycomb appearance. These mushrooms are hollow and have a cone-shaped cap. These caps have spongy pits that give them their distinct look. They come in different colors, including black, yellow, and beige.
They go by different names and varieties, including the following:
Once harvested, these mushrooms don’t last long. They spoil easily, and this is another reason for their popularity.
You can buy them fresh and dried, but be forewarned – they come with a hefty price tag. Their hollow insides make them difficult to transport. Delicate handling is needed, and this adds to their cost.
When cooked, these mushrooms develop a texture similar to meat. This characteristic is unlike most mushrooms, which become slimy upon cooking.
Morel mushrooms are popular for various reasons. To begin with, they are rare. They mostly grow in the wild, and you’d have to forage for them. Certain skills and knowledge are needed when hunting morel mushrooms, so it is not easy. You can easily mistake false morels for true ones if you don’t know what you’re doing.
Efforts to grow morel mushrooms commercially have been made. But, only a few have succeeded. The Kirk brothers, Jacob and Karsten, were the first to cultivate morels indoors in 2005. However, some say cultivated morels do not have the same quality as wild ones.
Most morels available in the market still come from foraging. That said, there are limited numbers. On top of that, these mushrooms do not grow all year round. The morel mushroom season begins in late March and ends in April. This makes them very expensive as the demand for these unique mushrooms is high.
Lastly, the morels taste like no other mushrooms. They are exquisite and delicious. This makes them a coveted ingredient that most chefs would be thrilled to have on their dishes.
Well, these mushrooms sure are interesting. But what do morels taste like?
Morels taste nutty, woodsy, and earthy. They also have a meaty flavor. What’s unique about them is that the darker their color, the more intense they taste. So, you can expect the black morels to taste stronger than the beige ones. The black morels even have a note of smokiness.
So, what do morel mushrooms taste like when dried? Like most foods, morels taste more concentrated once their water content is lost.
You can expect a more intense flavor from dried morels than fresh ones. Yet, the notes are the same; they are still meaty, earthy, nutty, and woodsy.
It is not safe to eat raw morels. Morels contain a highly toxic irritant called hydrazine. This inorganic compound gets destroyed by cooking, though. It is not recommended to eat an undercooked or raw morel.
Consumption of raw morels is poisonous and might result in various side effects. These effects include an upset stomach, nausea, and vomiting. Sometimes, these are accompanied by dizziness, tremors, double vision, and disorientation.
It is important to note that even when morels are cooked properly, they can still have these side effects. This is why they should never be eaten in large amounts.
Morel mushrooms are nutritious additions to your meals. These mushrooms are great sources of Vitamin D and Iron.
They are low in calories. Plus, morels also have zinc, potassium, manganese, and phosphorus. You will also get decent amounts of magnesium and copper. They’re also known to have antioxidant properties.
Then again, the consumption of too many of them might have dangerous effects, so that is something to note.
These mushrooms are hollow, so unlike other farmed mushrooms, you can stuff them. They are best filled with poultry, seafood, herbs, or potatoes seasoned with spices.
They are also often eaten together with pasta and roasted meat like pork and chicken. Morels can also be sauteed along with other vegetables.
You can also pan-fry them in butter or oil. This way, you can eat them alone or serve them on top of the toast.
You can also add them to savory dishes, including porridges. These mushrooms pair well with seafood such as fish and prawns. Morel mushrooms also taste well with polenta, onions, leeks, asparagus, and eggs. Lastly, shallots, thyme, garlic, chervil, and basil complement the flavor of morels.
Indeed, you could use morels in almost all mushroom recipes. Morels are versatile like that!
Before cooking morels, it is important to wash them properly. Remember that they are usually from the wild, exposed to different elements. Their distinct pitted caps make it easy for dirt and bugs to lodge in them. For this reason, you should carefully inspect each pit to see if they’re thoroughly clean.
Likewise, you should wash them quickly and never let them soak in water. Morel mushrooms act like a sponge, so they’ll get mushy if left exposed or submerged in water.
When grown indoors, morel mushrooms are unlikely to have dirt and bugs. This makes them easier to wash. You’ll be able to enjoy their texture best as they won’t come in contact with water that much.
As described above, morels are delicate ingredients that need careful handling and storage.
Washing them may already affect their texture. It is best to put fresh, unwashed morels in a partially opened container and refrigerate them. This way, they’ll last for a week at the most.
If placing an unwashed item in your fridge does not sit well with you, you can wash them first. Yet, you’d have to individually wrap them in a moist cloth so they won’t dry out. Stored this way, fresh morels will last for 2-3 days.
You can also freeze fresh morels, but you’d have to boil them before doing so. This is because freezing fresh morels raw will affect their texture and flavor. Frozen but cooked morels will retain their original structure and taste.
When freezing morels, you need to flash freeze them first. Place them side by side on a baking sheet and freeze them for 2-3 hours. Then, take them out and place them in batches in a freezer bag. This way, they won’t stick to each other. This enables you to take what you need for a recipe without thawing the whole batch. Properly frozen morels will last for a year.
There is a special freezing technique called freeze drying. This can preserve morels for several years. To make freeze-dried morels, you’d need dedicated machinery for this to work. It isn’t cheap, but freeze-drying maintains the texture and flavor of the mushrooms. Once thawed, they’ll look and taste like fresh ones.
Dried morel mushrooms, on the other hand, can be stored at room temperature. Doing so for 6 months won’t affect their quality. Dried morels can be frozen, too. They’ll last for up to a year when stored in the freezer.
Morel mushrooms grow in the woodland, especially on decaying trees of oak, apples, and elm. These wild mushrooms also grow in burned areas where pine trees used to grow.
Morel mushrooms are expensive because they are seasonal and rare. They are difficult to cultivate as they only grow in controlled conditions. Plus, transporting them is difficult due to the delicate structure. So, they come at a steep price when they reach the market.
The good news is that they are hollow, so they are light. You get a decent amount for each pound that you buy.
No, morels are not fishy. They smell like other mushrooms, earthy and nutty—but not fishy.
False morel mushrooms are poisonous mushrooms. They look like true morels to the untrained eye. However, they aren’t hollow and come in brown, purple, or red. Upon closer inspection, you’ll see they do not have the signature pits that true morels have.
Yes, black morels are edible. Like true morels, black morels have a nutty flavor, along with earthy and woody notes. When cooked, they also develop a meaty texture.
Morel mushrooms are quite fascinating. They look and taste unique, which brings the interest of many. These mushrooms are prized for their meaty texture, but they are quite expensive. Home cooks and chefs alike use them as premium ingredients in dishes.
They taste woodsy, earthy, and nutty. Depending on their color, their flavor can range from mild to intense. Morels pair with the same flavors that regular mushrooms go well with.