Morel mushrooms, or just morels, are a type of wild mushroom with an earthy, nutty flavor. They have a meaty texture, unlike the more slimy texture of other mushroom varieties. These mushrooms are a highly desired ingredient among chefs and mushroom enthusiasts.
Morels are considered top-tier mushrooms, due to their depth and earthy, nutty flavor. They also have a meaty texture, unlike the more slimy texture of other mushroom varieties. For these reasons, even mushroom haters will enjoy morels.
The scientific name is Morchella and it is a genus of the edible sac fungi and releases it’s spores through the small pits in it’s honey comb cap. Unlike other mushrooms that have a slippery or slimy feel, morels have a meaty texture with an almost earthy, nutty flavor profile.
Morels are a distinct-looking mushroom with a cone-shaped cap and sponge-like texture. They typically grow between two and four inches tall. The caps stand erect and range in color from pale cream to almost black with a well-defined pitted texture.
Morels are enigmatic. Despite their reputation as the best tasting mushroom among some 1.5 million other species of fungi, very little is known about them. With a lot of room for interpretation, foragers like me do their best to fill in the scientific gaps. For that reason, morel hunters get plenty of things wrong. Here are a few common myths.
Do morels taste the same as in the wild?
However, there is a debate as to whether these cultivated morels have the same quality and taste as those growing in the wild. Because wild mushrooms are seasonal, foraged, fragile, and highly perishable, they can be pricey. Like all mushrooms, morels have deadly imitators.
You could be thinking “Are all false morels edible?”
Most false morels are edible when cooked, and some foragers even refer to them as “beefsteak mushrooms.” But there are a couple of toxic false morels that need to be avoided, especially if you’re new to wild mushrooms. As the popular saying goes, there are old mushroom hunters and bold mushroom hunters, but no old, bold mushroom hunters.
No matter how you get them, morels are definitely delicious when grilled or sautéed, and they can be dried or frozen if you want to enjoy them year-round. Morels are a distinct-looking mushroom with a cone-shaped cap and sponge-like texture.
Why are morels so expensive?
Because wild mushrooms are seasonal, foraged, fragile, and highly perishable, they can be pricey. Like all mushrooms, morels have deadly imitators. In this case, they are known as false morels, which include a number of species that look similar but are poisonous.
On most morels the cap will be attached to the stem, not hanging free as with Amanitas and many other mushrooms. There are species known as “half-free morels”, where only the bottom of the cap hangs freely from the stem.
Are morels available year round?
However, dried morels and frozen morels are available year-round. When buying fresh morels, look for mushrooms that are plump and without dry stems. Avoid mushrooms that are dried out, brittle, bruised, or softening as these will rot more quickly.