Morel mushrooms are small to large in size with caps that are oblong, cone-shaped, bulbous, or egg-shaped and are attached to short, stout stems. The cap averages 2-7 centimeters in diameter and ranges in color from blonde, light brown, grey, to dark brown. The fragile, brittle cap also has a hollow, honeycomb-like exterior that consists of many irregular holes and ridges with a small, bumpy texture and attaches directly to the stem. Inside the cap and stem, there is a hollow cavity running the length of the mushroom and the stem is white and averages 2-9 centimeters in length. When cooked, Morel mushrooms are meaty and tender with a deep, earthy, nutty, and woodsy flavor.
Fresh Morel mushrooms are available for a short time in the spring, while dry versions are available year-round.
Morel mushrooms, botanically classified as Morchella esculenta, are a wild, edible fruiting body of an underground organism known as mycelium. Belonging to the Morchellaceae family, there are many different species of Morel mushrooms found in regions across the northern hemisphere. Also known as the True Morel, Yellow Morel, Common Morel, and the Sponge mushroom, Morel mushrooms can be found growing in pastures, orchards, and meadows on disturbed ground near spruce, ash, elm, and apple trees. They can also be found in burnt forests in the spring season after a large wildfire. Morel mushrooms are unable to be cultivated due to their delicate growing conditions, and because they have such a short season, they have become very expensive in commercial markets and are difficult to find. Despite their rarity, Morel mushrooms are one of the most prized culinary items and are favored by chefs for their unusual shape, deep flavor, and limited availability.
Morel mushrooms are an excellent source of fiber, iron, and manganese, and also contain copper, phosphorus, zinc, vitamins D, E, K and B, potassium, and calcium.
Morel mushrooms should not be consumed raw and are best suited for cooked applications such as sautéing or frying. Both the stems and the caps are edible and are most commonly sautéed with butter, salt, and pepper or are cooked in wine or cream-based sauces. Morel mushrooms can be mixed into pasta or risotto, served on top of meat with roasted vegetables, blended into a cream cheese spread as an appetizer, served on toast, or cooked into mushroom soup. They can also be stuffed with cheese and meat, breaded, and fried for a crispy bite. When preparing and handling, it is important to note that fresh Morel mushrooms are very brittle and can easily crumble, but they can also be dried for extended use and rehydrated when needed. Morel mushrooms pair well with English peas, asparagus, onion, shallots, garlic, white wine, parmesan cheese, dry vermouth, dry sherry, stock, lemon juice, sausage, bacon, pork, poultry, beef, nutmeg, five-spice, parsley, chives, tarragon, walnuts, soy sauce, and water chestnuts. They will keep up to one week when stored in the refrigerator and up to one year when dried.
Morel mushrooms are one the most popular edible mushroom in the United States and are known by many nicknames including “molly moochers,” “hickory chickens,” and “dryland fish.” High-end restaurant chefs appreciate the depth of flavor and earthy notes that Morel mushrooms can add to a dish and they are one of the few varieties that are available in the spring. Home chefs also appreciate Morel mushrooms for their ability to be dried and rehydrated. They provide woodsy flavors year-round and add a tender textural element to elevate cooking dishes at home.
Morel mushrooms only grow in the wild and are native to regions across the northern hemisphere. They were first recorded in 1753 in mycologist Carl Linnaeus’s Species Plantarum and was reclassified in 1801 by Swedish mycologist Elias Magnus Fries. Today Morel mushrooms can be found in fresh form at farmers markets and specialty grocers and in dried form at grocers and online retailers in Canada, the United States, Turkey, Spain, India, Pakistan, Israel, Cyprus, China, and Australia.
Description provided by: SpecialtyProduce.com