So you’ve just returned from your latest mushroom hunt with a bumper crop of morels. What are you supposed to do with them? How can you best enjoy their unique flavor and texture in your next meal? Read on to learn all you need to know about how to cook morel mushrooms.
What You'll Learn Today
What Do Morels Taste Like?
Morels are considered a gourmet food item. They are extremely popular because of their flavorful, one-of-a-kind taste and delectable, meaty texture.
Morels have a flavor that is frequently described as nutty, earthy, musky, and smoky. They have also been described as having a mild fishy or meat-like taste, but not everyone notices this particular flavor.
Morels are known for having a stronger flavor than many edible mushrooms, but they don’t leave an aftertaste in your mouth. They come in many color varieties from white to yellow to gray to black, and the darker ones generally have the stronger taste.
While the flavor is enough to win over many picky eaters, the texture is also extremely popular. While most mushrooms have a slimy, spongy texture, morels have a more flesh-like, meaty texture.
This meat-like characteristic makes morels a good meat replacement in vegetarian and vegan dishes, especially for those who may miss the flavor or texture of meat in their diet.
Vegetarian or not, those who don’t typically like mushrooms often enjoy morels because of their strong flavor and delightful texture.
How Long Do You Have to Cook Morel Mushrooms?
According to United Regulations, eating raw morels can cause gastric issues. But that begs the question: how long do you have to cook them before they are considered safe to eat?
Morels should be cooked for at least 5 minutes so they can release their water. You can cook them longer if you want, though they will become soft and soggy the longer they are cooked.
If you’re going to saute or roast your mushrooms, it’s best to “precook” them so they will release their liquid without becoming soggy.
Cook the morels in small batches in a dry pot or frying pan, keeping them in a single layer. Cook for 2-5 minutes, then remove them from the pan and drain off the water.
At this point, return the morels to the pan or place them on a baking sheet, adding a generous amount of butter or oil, chopped garlic and onions, and salt and pepper to taste.
For stovetop cooking, saute them for 2 to 5 minutes until they’ve reached the desired firmness. For roasting in the oven, you’ll need to cook them another 15 to 30 minutes.
If adding morels to soup, there is no need to cook off the water first unless the recipe calls for this step. Alternately, you can saute them in butter first to enhance the flavor, but don’t discard the liquid as it cooks out; add it to the soup, as it will simply cook into the broth, giving it a deep, rich flavor.
Mushrooms should be one of the last ingredients you add to soup.
Once you’ve added in the morels, cook the soup only as long as necessary. Remember, the longer you cook morels, the soggier they will become.
How to Fry Morel Mushrooms?
Most people prefer their morels sauteed or pan-fried. Check out the following videos for a simple method of pan-frying morels:
Of course, you don’t have to follow that recipe exactly. You can experiment with using different coatings, such as:
- Crushed crackers
- Frying batter
Regardless of what you use, though, the important thing is to dip your morels in an egg-milk mixture before dipping them in the coating. This will help the coating to stick better and will keep it from falling off during the frying process.
As shown in the video, you can “double dip” your morels, moving them from the egg wash to the coating back to the egg wash and back to the coating so you end up with a double layer of the coating.
Make sure your oil or butter is good and hot before adding your morels. You can deep fry them if you want, but pan-frying works just as well.
Cook them for a couple minutes on each side, flipping them over at least once during the cooking process. You want the batter to be a nice golden brown.
Once they are cooked, remove the mushrooms from the oil, placing them in a single layer on some paper towel to allow the excess oil to drain.
You may want to sprinkle on some salt, pepper, or other seasonings at this point if you did not already add them to the coating or batter.
What to Do With Dried Morels?
Dried morels have many uses. In fact, they are nearly as versatile as their fresh counterparts.
You can add dried morels to soup; powder them and use the powder as a seasoning for soups and stews, broths, sauces, or other recipes; take the powder as a nutritional supplement; and reconstitute the mushroom pieces, using them as you would fresh mushrooms.
To reconstitute dried morels, place them in a bowl and cover with water, broth, or wine; you can warm the liquid first, but you don’t have to. Allow the mushrooms to soak for at least 15 minutes, possibly longer depending on how large the mushroom pieces are.
After reconstituting the mushrooms, save the liquid to use in other recipes.
Are Dried Morels as Good as Fresh?
Drying morels is the best way to preserve them, and dried morels may also be cheaper to buy if you can’t find them growing in your area. But do dried morels taste as good as the fresh ones?
While many mushroom hunters agree that there’s no substitute for fresh morels, dried morels are also quite good. They tend to have a stronger flavor than fresh morels, though some of this flavor may be extracted during the rehydration process.
Dried morels have many uses and don’t always have to be reconstituted, which makes them a convenient choice. But their texture remains nearly as good even after being dried and rehydrated, so you can also use them to fry or saute or any other way you would use fresh morels.
If you have an especially large harvest, then dehydrating your excess is a great way to preserve them for later. Or if you’re thinking of buying dried morels and wondering if it’s worth it, the answer is a definite yes.
How Long Do You Have to Soak Dried Morels?
Usually, as discussed above, you only have to soak dried morels for 15-20 minutes, and perhaps a little longer for larger pieces.
Mushrooms of all kinds absorb water like sponges, and morels are no different. It doesn’t take very long for them to reabsorb any amount of liquid they may have lost during the drying process.
There are many different ways to cook morel mushrooms.
One of the most popular ways to eat morels is breaded and fried, but people also love them sauteed, roasted, and added to various recipes. You can even add the water that cooks out of them to your favorite soup or sauce to give it a hint of that excellent morel flavor.