Did your recent trip to the woods leave you with more morels than you can possibly eat at one time? You may not be aware, but there are many ways to preserve the tasty mushrooms. Today we’re going to talk about how to store morels as well as step-by-step instructions for how to freeze and dehydrate them.
What You'll Learn Today
How Long Do Morels Last?
Fresh mushrooms typically don’t last very long, but there are ways you can preserve their freshness and enjoy them long after the season is past. How long these mushrooms last depends on how they are prepared for storage.
In the fridge, they can last anywhere from a few days to a few weeks. On average though, even with excellent preparation, it’s best not to expect them to last longer than a week.
In the freezer, morels can last considerably longer. Whether they are precooked and packaged or frozen raw, they can last six months to a year.
One of the best ways to store morels is to freeze-dry and vacuum-seal them. They may last up to 20 years if packaged this way; of course, vacuum sealers and freeze dryers can be expensive, so not everyone has easy access to them.
Dehydrating morels is another great way to store them. Dried morels can last for six months to a year, possibly longer if stored in a sealed package and kept in a cool place.
How Long Do Morels Last in the Fridge?
There are different ways to keep morels in the fridge.
If you store them washed and wrapped individually in moist paper or cloth, morels will last about 3 days. Check them frequently to make sure they aren’t going bad and discard any that are becoming soft, slimy, or discolored.
The best way to store them in the fridge is to place them, unwashed, in a paper or plastic bag left partially open, and place the bag in your crisper drawer. Again, it’s important to check them often and remove any that are starting to go bad, but when stored this way, morels may last for at least a week.
Some people have had success storing them up to three weeks fresh, but they must be carefully prepared and monitored. They should be kept in a plastic bag or food storage container left partially open so they can breathe, the fridge should be kept as cold as possible without freezing the food, and any mushrooms starting to turn should be removed as soon as they are discovered.
Dried morels kept in the fridge can last for years as long as they are properly sealed. If not properly sealed, moisture can get inside the packaging and ruin the morels.
How to Keep Morels Fresh
The way to keep morels fresh for the longest period of time is to store them in the fridge. Keeping them in a plastic bag is generally better than a paper bag because they won’t lose their moisture so fast, but make sure and leave the plastic bag open so they can breathe.
Also, check your morels frequently and remove any that are starting to go bad right away. Mold and rot can spread quickly to other morels in the bag, so removing decay at the source is critical to extending the fridge life of your morels.
How to Tell if Morels are Bad
Morels produce several visual clues if they are no longer fit to be eaten.
It’s important to pay attention to any changes you notice in your mushrooms if you are storing them in the fridge. Some of the things to look for include:
- Rust rot (a reddish discoloration)
- Slimy areas
- Dark spots
- Dried or shriveled appearance
- Soft areas
Morels that are going bad will probably have a strong odor of rot or mildew as well. So if anything looks or smells a little “off,” it’s best to play it safe and discard the questionable mushrooms before they ruin the whole batch.
How to Dry Morels?
Check out the following video for a visual on how to dehydrate a batch of morels.
The steps are as follows:
- Cut the mushrooms in halves or fourths, depending on their size.
- Rinse the mushrooms under running water, then place them in a bowl of saltwater for up to 30 minutes. The longer they soak, the more water they will absorb.
- Remove them from the water and dry them between layers of paper towels. You may want to use sunlight or fans to help them dry.
- Place the mushroom pieces in a single layer on dehydrator trays, making sure there is plenty of space for air flow between each piece. Place them in the dehydrator, setting it to about 110 to 125 degrees Fahrenheit or the lowest vegetable setting available.
- Start checking on the mushrooms after 4 hours; depending on their size and moisture content, it may take up to eight hours or even longer before they are fully dry, so checking them frequently is key.
According to Organic Authority, if you don’t have a dehydrator, you can dry your mushrooms by stringing them on thread and hanging them in a dry, dark room. Air drying should take about 3 days on average.
When morels are fully dry, they will become shriveled and hard. You should be able to snap them between your fingers when they’re done.
Place them in jars, bags, or storage containers. If you have a vacuum sealer, use it. Store the morels in a cool, dry, dark place.
How to Freeze Morels
This video shows you one of the best methods for freezing morels.
Follow these steps:
- Slice morels in half; larger ones may need to be cut in smaller pieces.
- Place them in a bowl of saltwater and allow them to soak anywhere from 5 minutes to overnight. Remove them from the water and allow them to dry between layers of paper towel.
- Put some flour and seasonings as desired into a resealable plastic bag. Judge how much to use based on how many mushrooms you’re freezing.
- Place the mushrooms in the bag and shake it around to coat them in the flour mixture. Remove them, placing them in a single layer on a baking sheet.
- Put the baking sheet in the freezer for a couple of hours or leave them overnight, allowing the mushrooms to freeze thoroughly.
- Remove the baking sheet and carefully lift each frozen mushroom off. Place the mushrooms in a resealable freezer bag or freezer-safe container, and return the mushrooms to the freezer.
There are many ways to store morel mushrooms. Of course, the best way to eat them is fresh right after you pick them, but if you end up with more than you can use right away, it’s good to know that you have several options for preserving their flavor long past the end of the season.