The morel mushroom is one of the world’s most prized mushroom varieties. Morel mushrooms are usually found in wooded areas throughout North America and Europe. Warm and wet conditions are best for growing morel mushrooms.
It's spring and the season for tasty morel mushrooms to burst forth from the earth here in southeastern Pennsylvania.
Our family, for multiple generations, have been avid home gardeners and foragers of edible wild plants and berries.
In early spring, our family when the kids were young, stalked for wild asparagus along roadsides, drainage ditches and fences. When raspberry and blackberry season arrived, we knew locations where we could find plenty of berries to eat fresh, make into jelly and jams, and use in tasty recipes.
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My two sons have added mushrooms to their foraging adventures. Each year when the time is right, they go morel hunting venturing back to locations where in previous years morels were harvested.
Going back to these locations when the weather is just right normally produces an ample supply. And this year it did. One son had an abundant haul and shared some with me.
Fresh morel mushrooms don’t have a very long shelf life. It's best to eat them within four days. Unable to eat them all in a timely fashion and having a dehydrator, that is used regularly to dry herbs and vegetables, drying morels was a way of preserving them for later use during the off-season.
Learn about drying morel mushrooms by watching this video first and then keep reading this post for more information on how to preserve, rehydrate and use them.
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When can you find morel mushrooms?
My son Steve says, "When asparagus start to sprout; it's time for morel hunting". In southeastern Pennsylvania look for them sprouting from mid-April to mid-June.
The Great Morel sighting maps are a great resource for monitoring sighting of the morel mushroom and when one might begin their foraging adventure.
How can you preserve morel mushrooms?
If you are lucky enough to find an abundant supply of morel mushrooms and don't plan on cooking them in a few days, preserving them allows you to savor the taste even during the off-season. There are several ways to preserve morels - air-dry, oven-dry, freeze and dehydrate.
The simplest and most well-known technique for preserving morals is drying. Drying morel mushrooms is my preferred method. It's quick! It easy!
What can you do with dried morel mushrooms?
Eating morels fresh is the best but in the middle of winter, it's a delightful, tasty mushroom treat. Some of my favorite ways to use dried morel mushrooms are:
- Chicken marsala
- Caramelized onions and mushroom
- Sauteed Morel Mushrooms
- Bolognese sauce and other sauces
- Add them directly to dishes with lots of liquid, such as soups or stews
- Stir them into pilafs, other rice dishes and pasta
how to dehydrate moral mushrooms the easy way!
WHAT YOU NEED TO DEHYDRATE MORAL MUSHROOMS:
- Morel Mushrooms
- Paper Bag
- Storage Jar
Steps for Dehydrating Morel Mushrooms
Step 1: Clean the Morels
Begin the dehydrating process by cleaning the mushrooms. Morel mushrooms need a bit more cleaning than most mushrooms because of all the holes and crevices that can hold soil and insects.
Begin cleaning by placing a few moral mushrooms in a paper bag and gently shaking the bag. This helps to remove some of the dirt. Remove mushroom, place a few more in the bag and shake. Repeat.
Next, sprinkle about a tablespoon of salt in a large bowl and add cold water. Stir until salt is dissolved. Soak the mushrooms in the water for about 10 - 20 minutes. I usually soak for a shorter time of 10 minutes.
Once the morels have had their soak, give them another rinse to get rid of the salt.
Drain well by laying the mushrooms on a clean kitchen towel to get rid of as much water as possible.
Step 2: Sort and Slice
After cleaning and drying the morel mushrooms, cut away any bad spots and cut larger morels in half so they will dehydrate quicker.
Step 3: Place on Dehydrator Trays
There are many dehydrators in the market ranging in all price ranges. When choosing a dehydrator for your home you want to consider a few things. How much dehydrating do you do? How much space do you have for your dehydrator? How much do you want to pay for a dehydrator?
Different types of food dry best at different temperatures so being able to adjust the temperature is something to consider.
Lay the mushroom in a single layer on the dehydrator trays making sure that none of the pieces touch or overlap.
Step 4: Dehydrate the Morals
Dry them at 125 F (52 C) until the pieces are brittle to the touch. This will take anywhere from 4 to 8 hours.
Wash all the dehydration trays and screens, as morels can leave spores behind, which encourage mold growth.
Step 5: The Storing Part
Once completely dried, allow the dried morels to cool completely before transferring them to a glass jar.
Cover the jar tightly with a lid and store in a dark, dry place.
HOW to REHYDRATE MOREL MUSHROOMS?
Morel mushrooms are easy to rehydrate. Simply put the amount you want in a bowl and add hot water. Let the morels stand in the water until soft and pliable, about 15 - 20 minutes.
When the mushrooms are plump, gently lift or strain the mushrooms out of the water.
Use in your favorite recipe.
Don't throw out the soaking liquid. Strain the liquid through a coffee filter or mesh sieve to get rid of any sediment or grit. Use the reserved liquid to favor other dishes.
Morel mushrooms are great used in many different recipes. The problem is morels are only available for such a short foraging season. This is why knowing how to dry and preserve morel mushrooms is important if you want to have a ready stock of morals any time of the year.
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