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How to Cook Morel Mushrooms + 5 Recipes

So you've managed to get your hands on some morel mushrooms. Maybe you overheard a whispered conversation about where to find a source (not that any self-respecting morel forager would give up their location). Now what? Fresh morels are valued for their taste, but also because they are hard to find. When you get them, you need to know exactly how to cook morel mushrooms to showcase their flavor and texture. Not just any old recipe will do.

Morels are wild mushrooms; you can't farm them. The only way to find fresh morel mushrooms is to go out mushroom hunting or hope that someone at your local farmers market has them. They only grow in the springtime, in wooded areas often near a river or stream and underneath dead or dying trees. This fungi, called mycelium, actually grows underground; the morel is what you might call its fruit. Only this part of the organism is harvested, and it tends to grow back year after year.

You might get lucky and find morels at the grocery store if it's a high-end store, but more likely you have to either forage for yourself or know a guy. Pro tip: Foraging for mushrooms is best done equipped beforehand with lots of knowledge of the mushroom and the area you plan to forage in. Don't eat foraged mushrooms unless you are absolutely certain they are safe.

Look for morels that are firm and dry; you don't want spongy or wet mushrooms. They'll keep in the refrigerator for about a week if you store them where they get plenty of air circulating around them.

To clean them, brush off any dirt with a paper towel or pastry brush or give them a quick rinse in a colander. You'll also need to check for worms, who like to hide in the nooks and crannies of the mushroom. The stems are safe to eat, but you'll probably want to trim the end of the stem off.

It's best not to eat raw morels. While they are safe to eat, they do contain a mildly toxic substance that is destroyed when the mushrooms are cooked.

Morel mushrooms have a meaty texture and an earthy flavor, so use them in dishes where they can shine. Here are five ways how to cook morel mushrooms for some fungi inspiration.

Morel Mushroom Recipes To Make

Sautéed Morel Mushrooms

Cooking morels doesn't have to be complicated. Some (okay, a lot) of butter, a little bit of olive oil, garlic and shallots, and a frying pan over high heat makes for an amazing way how to saute morel mushrooms.

Get the recipe here.

Fried Morel Mushrooms

Dip your morels into breading or a light batter of cornmeal and fry them over medium heat until crispy and golden brown. Drain on  paper towels. You get a delightful side dish or some of the fanciest party food you'll ever make.

Get the recipe here.

Crab-Stuffed Morel Mushrooms

If you need to impress someone, make this appetizer. Use high-quality crab and good breadcrumbs or crackercrumbs. Serve with an earthy wine (red or white) and you'll have them eating out of your hand, so to speak.

Get the recipe here.

Morel Risotto

Pan-fried morels and spring peas added to risotto is like spring in a bowl. Make this when it's still just a bit cool and damp outside and you need some rich comfort food that promises warmer days.

Get the recipe here.

Dried Morel Butter

If you're lucky enough to find dried morels, you really should make this compound butter. A little of it goes a long way and it makes any dish luxurious. Spread it on good bread. Add it to your morel risotto. Finish a cream sauce for pasta. Gently fry scrambled eggs in it. Use it on your grilled cheese sandwich! Seriously, the best way how to cook morel mushrooms is to add just a little bit of them to everything.

Get the recipe here.

This article was originally published May 14, 2020