Morel Mushrooms: Foraging 101
It’s spring, and that means we’re hunting for morel mushrooms in Northern Michigan. With a perforated bag in hand, foragers flock to their secret spots in search of the particularly tempting and decadent morel mushroom. If you’re new to the sport of morel hunting, read on to learn tips for locating this treasured food find.
Foraging for Morels
It takes eagle eyes and sturdy legs to bring home morels. While you’re hiking in the forest, keep a special eye out underneath poplar and old apple trees—known morel habitat. Also, know that where there’s one morel, there are probably more. If you spot one, stop, crouch down near ground level and scan the horizon 20 feet out in all directions: Getting down near the ground helps you spot them against the backdrop of a lighter colored sky. [For more foraging tips, check out these 6 tips for finding morel mushrooms.]
Cleaning Your Morels
Fungi grow in the woods, but that doesn’t make them dirty, and washing or soaking mushrooms is a major culinary no-no. Instead, brush off any excess dirt with your hands, or at most a damp paper towel. Harvesting with a knife ensures a clean cut through the stem above the ground, leaving the dirt in the woods where it belongs.
It’s rare that you’ll find more morels than you can eat in one meal, but if you hit the jackpot, simply store morels in the fridge wrapped in a damp paper towel. They’ll last for up to one week. You can also dry them in a food dehydrator or in the oven. To dry them in the oven, place them evenly on a cookie sheet and set the oven to 140 degrees Fahrenheit or lower. Remove them from the oven once they’re crispy dry. Use dried morels later in soups or sauces—just soak them in water first to reconstitute them.
For morel storage tips, check out, “Morels 201: Tips for How to Store Morels, From Chef and Morel Expert Lucy House.”