Ah, cooking morel mushrooms and eating them. Your reward for a day searching in the woods. Finding them may not always be easy, but cooking usually is!
Since morels are usually the star of the dish, it’s best to keep preparation and other ingredients simple. Below you’ll find instructions for cleaning, cooking, rehydrating dried morels, and a few easy recipes.
Follow this link for a full page of delicious morel recipes.
Before we begin cooking morel mushrooms they must first be cleaned. If you picked them while mushroom hunting, they’ll probably contain pieces of dirt, some bugs, or even a slug or two. There are three main schools of thought behind cleaning morels:
- Brush off any dirt or bugs with a damp or dry cloth. Don’t wash them, as we don’t want the mushrooms to get too wet and soggy.
- Rinse them in water and pat dry.
- Leave in a bowl of salted water for 15 minutes or longer.
I’ve heard arguments for and against each method. Use whatever technique you feel most comfortable with in terms of sanitation. The point is to remove all dirt and bugs without making them too wet. Soggy morels result in a heartbreak not cured by store-bought mushrooms.
I usually prefer to clean my wild mushrooms with a damp cloth, but morels are so pitted this may not remove all the dirt and grit.
Thus I usually use the second method, rinse them off and pat dry. Since uncooked morels have a rubbery texture, I find that a quick rinse doesn’t make them too soggy.
For some, this is not enough, and they prefer to soak their morels in a bowl of salted water. If you do this, make sure you don’t go overboard on the salt, as you don’t want it to affect the taste of the mushrooms.
You can cook morels the same as you would any mushroom (fry, sauté, grill, etc). Just please do cook them. Our digestive systems aren’t equipped to handle raw mushrooms so eating raw morels may make you sick, and they just don’t taste as good.
Here are some commonly followed guidelines for cooking morel mushrooms:
- Slice them the long way before cooking. This gives you an opportunity to remove any lingering dirt or slugs. Don’t feel tied to this rule; if you want to cut them into quarters or any other way go right ahead.
- Try to cook as soon as possible after picking when they are still fresh. If you must wait, store them in the fridge for a few days covered in damp paper. Never store morels in a plastic bag, as they will become mushy.
- A simpler morel mushroom recipe is often better. You don’t want their unique taste to be drowned out by too many spices or strong ingredients. Let the morel be the center of the dish.
Cooking morel mushrooms is easy when they’re already dried. You just need to rehydrate them first.
Your mileage may vary, but 3 oz of dried morels is equal to roughly a pound of fresh ones. Keep this in mind while dehydrating.
You may want to cut your dried mushrooms before you rehydrate. They will rehydrate quicker in smaller pieces. It’s up to you.
- Fill a small bowl with lukewarm water and add your mushrooms. (I’ve seen recipes where people use chicken stock or even half and half to rehydrate their mushrooms. I usually stick with just water).
- Let them soak in the water. How long is variable, but at least 15 minutes. You want to let them soak until they’re pliable, soft, and don’t crack when you bend them. Just keep checking on them until they’re soft.
- Remove the dried morels from the water using a colander or sieve. Save the soaking water! If there’s dirt and grit in it (which there probably will be at least a little), you can pour it through a coffee filter or sieve.
You may now commence cooking morel mushrooms! Run your fingers over them. If they seem gritty, you can always give them a second, clean rinse. You can sauté or cook as you wish.
As for the soaking water, if it’s not full of dirt it makes a great base for soups and sauces.
If you need more ideas than the ones below check out this page on recipes for cooking morel mushrooms.
Ok, two recipes! Below are two classic morel mushroom recipes to close out the cooking page. The first is for frying with flour in butter, and the second is for a lighter sauté. Feel free to adjust them as you see fit.
Fry with Flour and Butter
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 1/2 cup flour
- Heat up a frying pan or skillet and melt butter. Make sure the butter doesn’t burn.
- Place the flour on a dish and roll the morel pieces in it until they are completely coated.
- Drop the flour-covered morels into the heated pan with butter. Flip them over with a wooden spoon until all sides are brown and crispy.
- Eat them slowly, savoring the taste and taking time to ruminate on how wonderful it is to be alive. Or just scarf them down and whip up another batch!
Sauté With Oil and Garlic
- 2 tbsp olive oil (adjust depending on the amount of mushrooms, you only want a very thin coating of oil)
- Minced garlic
- Heat up a frying pan or skillet and add the olive oil.
- When the olive oil warms and runs easily across the surface of the pan, add the minced garlic. Let it cook 1-3 minutes, being careful to watch that the garlic doesn’t burn.
- Add the morels. Sauté for about 5-7 minutes or until slightly crispy, turning over as needed with a wooden spoon.
- Invite friends over to share them with you. Try not to eat them all before your friends show up. (You might want to have some other mushrooms ready, just in case).
I hope you have fun cooking morel mushrooms. Whether fresh or dried, the results are delicious!