Morels are some of the most popular wild mushrooms, but getting them clean can be a challenge. Their honeycomb-like caps provide deep pockets for dirt, sand, bits of plant matter, and insects to hide in. If you’re wondering how to clean morel mushrooms, you’ve come to the right place.
In this article, we’ll discuss the various cleaning methods you can use to avoid getting a mouthful of grit or extra protein next time you cook a batch of morels.
What You'll Learn Today
How to Clean Fresh Morels?
Before doing anything with your mushrooms, it’s important to make sure they have a fresh, firm feel, especially if you’ve been storing them in the fridge for a few days. Discard any that are soft, spongy, waterlogged, discolored, shriveled, or slimy.
To help them last longer in the fridge, don’t clean them ahead of time. Store them in a paper bag in the fridge and only clean them right before you use them.
According to mushroom experts, it’s best to start the cleaning process by gently shaking the mushrooms, knocking loose any bits of dirt or grit clinging to the holes. Use a colander or paper bag for this, and be careful not to break or bruise the mushrooms in the process.
After shaking, check the morels for insects.
Worms especially may live in the holes in the mushroom caps. Make sure to pick out these worms and the weblike houses they build for themselves, using a mushroom or pastry brush to remove all the bits of the web.
Using a mushroom or pastry brush is a good idea even if you don’t find any worms or bugs in your morels. The brush will allow you to reach tight spaces and deep pockets that may be holding bits of dirt and gravel.
The mushroom or pastry brush is a great way to clean your morels without washing them. That said, if you still feel the need to wash your morels after brushing them off, that’s okay too.
There are several methods you can use for washing your mushrooms. Let’s take a closer look at each one.
How to Wash Morels?
There is a lot of disagreement about how to wash mushrooms of any kind, and morels are no exception. Some people prefer to simply brush them off with a pastry or mushroom brush as discussed above, while others recognize that the only way to remove all the dirt and insects from a morel’s deep grooves is to use water.
So, how should you use water to clean your mushrooms? Keep reading to find out:
How to Rinse Morels Under Running Water
Rinsing morels allows you to remove much of the dirt and bugs while keeping the mushrooms from absorbing much water. The main drawback is that the rinsing must be done quickly, so it doesn’t provide the most thorough cleaning.
To rinse your morels, place them in a colander and use your sink spray nozzle to give them a quick rinse. You may want to shake them around in the colander to make sure you’re rinsing all sides of the mushrooms.
After rinsing, place them on towels or paper towels and allow them to dry for a few minutes.
How to Wash Morels By Dunking
Many mushroom hunters prefer to give their morels a quick dunk and swish. This allows for a more complete clean without allowing the mushrooms to absorb too much water.
Fill a large bowl or clean sink full of cold water. Drop the entire batch of morels in the water and swish them around quickly and carefully. This should wash away any remaining dirt after you’ve finished shaking and scrubbing them.
Keep swishing them around until no more dirt comes off. You may want to change the water once or twice depending on how dirty the mushrooms are.
Once you’re done cleaning them, remove them from the water and place them in a colander lined with paper towels. Shake them around a bit to knock the water out of all the cracks and crevices, then allow them to dry thoroughly before using them.
You may want to set them in a sunny window or a dry room with fans blowing to speed up the drying process.
How to Wash Morels By Soaking
Most mushroom hunters agree that soaking mushrooms of any kind is a bad idea. The shrooms tend to act as sponges, absorbing a ridiculous amount of water with every minute they are allowed to soak.
However, there are some morel lovers who agree that a short or even a long soak is sometimes necessary to fully remove the dirt and grime. Considering the honeycomb pattern of morel caps, soaking may indeed be the best way to remove the bits of dirt that a pastry brush could never reach.
Fill a bowl or sink with cold water and add your morels. You’ll want to stir them around a bit with your hands from time to time as they soak.
The key here is to soak your morels only as long as necessary. For some, that may mean a few minutes; for others, a few hours.
Keep in mind that the texture will become soggy and the flavor will suffer the longer you leave the morels in the water. It may take some trial and error to figure out what works best for you and whether a completely thorough clean is worth the negative effects it causes.
Once you’ve finished soaking them, drain the morels using a colander, then further dry them using paper towels, fans, sunlight, or a combination of these things.
How to Wash Morels in Saltwater
Many people will soak morels in saltwater for anywhere from 5 minutes to a couple of hours. The salt in the water will drive out or kill any bugs remaining in the deep crannies of the mushrooms.
Fill a bowl or sink with water and dissolve a generous amount of salt in it. There is no need to measure the salt; simply sprinkle it over the water and swish it around to dissolve it.
Place the mushrooms in the water, allowing them to soak the desired amount of time. If the mushrooms are already pretty clean, a few minutes should be long enough; if they are riddled with bugs or still have a lot of dirt clinging to them, you may want to let them soak for a longer period of time, changing out the saltwater once or twice.
Remove the mushrooms from the saltwater. Dunk them in a bowl of fresh water to rinse them, or spray them down with your sink hose sprayer.
Allow the mushrooms to dry as you normally would after soaking them.
How Do You Prepare Morel Mushrooms After Picking?
There are many different ways to prepare freshly harvested and cleaned morels.
The mushrooms may be processed by freezing, freeze-drying, dehydrating, or canning, then stored for later use. But, to get the most out of their flavor and nutritional benefits, it’s best to use them fresh within a few days.
Morels can be sauteed, baked, boiled, fried, steamed, roasted, or added to any number of recipes.
If you’ve never cooked morels before, you may want to follow a recipe such as the one below. As you become more familiar working with morels, you can start experimenting with your own recipe ideas.
Wild morel mushrooms can be a bit of a challenge to clean because of all the deep grooves and pockets in their caps.
Fortunately, there are several methods you can use to get your mushrooms clean. You may want to try using different methods to see which ones work best for you.