If you like harvesting wild mushrooms, you surely like to find morel mushrooms and use them later in a tasty meal, but do you know how to store morel mushrooms properly?
First, what are morel mushrooms?
These gourmet mushrooms are distinct looking, with a cone-shaped cap and a sponge-looking body. These fungi range in color, from cream to black, and they are hollow.
They are found in wooded areas of America, near the Great Lakes, and Europe. Morels have imitator species that look very similar, but are poisonous, so it is important to note that these are not hollow inside and shouldn’t be eaten.
Now that you know what to look for, let’s talk about how to best store them.
8 Facts on How To Store Morel Mushrooms
Fact #1: Check your morel mushrooms before taking them home
While morel mushrooms may look healthy and good at the grocery store, you must check they aren’t ruined. Once you are satisfied with their appearance, store your morels in a paper bag, as putting them in a plastic grocery bag will make them mushy and may even render them unusable.
If you are harvesting them yourself, the first thing to do is check you have the correct type of mushroom. Some poisonous mushrooms look very similar to morels, but they aren’t hollow, and the colors vary quite a bit.
Fact #2: For short-term storage, keep your morels in a bowl
If you are going to store your morel mushrooms for only a day or two, then the best way to keep them fresh is to store them in the fridge. However, you need to wrap them in paper towel and store them in a bowl in the fridge. If you do this, they will last for a couple of days, but make sure, you don’t keep them in an airtight container.
By keeping them sealed, your mushrooms won’t be able to breathe and will become dark-colored and mushy quickly.
Fact #3: If you’re storing them for longer, make sure to clean the fist
Before long-term storage, the first key part of the process is to clean your mushrooms. This is especially important if you harvested your morels, as they are probably full of dirt and bugs.
First, you should cut your morels in half, and do so, lengthwise following their hollow body. You can then check for any bugs, worms, or any other unwanted items. This step will also prove that you have a morel and not a look-alike.
When cut, you can mix cool water and sea salt in a bowl and let the morels soak for a few minutes. You can shake the bowl to make sure all the dirt is out. After they have soaked for around 3-5 minutes, give the mushrooms a quick rinse under water.
While some people like to soak mushrooms overnight, this can cause them to lose shape and flavor.
Fact #4: Dehydrate them for preserved flavors and colors
The easiest way to store morels for long-term keeping is to dehydrate them. You can use your tray dehydrator without any problems, but make sure the temperature is set to around 110-120 degrees F. You do have to wait about 8-10 hours and check on them at least twice.
If your mushrooms are small, the dehydrating time will be shorter, so it’s best to keep an eye out just in case.
Once dry, you can keep your dry morels in a jar or airtight container in a dark, cool place.
Fact #5: You can also use the oven to dehydrate morels
Although a dehydrator is best, you can use the oven, too. Set your morels on lined baking sheets, and keep the temperature low. Though it may be difficult, keep the temperature at 140 degrees F or lower.
Allow the oven to remain open, as this will keep moisture out. In this case, you need to check often, and you should turn the morels around midway through.
When dry, let the mushrooms cool down for a few hours, and then store them in a jar or airtight container.
Fact #6: If there isn’t another choice, you can air-dry your morels
If you live in a sunny area, you can lay your mushrooms on a screen and allow them to dry in the sun. This process is also good for them because it increases their vitamin D content. Keep in mind that this process will take days, and you need to keep the air flowing completely around them, so you may want to hang them.
Fact #7: Freeze your morels if you need them longer
If you want morels to last months, the best way to do it is to freeze them. First, cut them in half, wash them, and roll them in flour until they are coated entirely.
Once coated, lay the morels in a tray and put them in the freezer overnight. After a night, they should be frozen solid and you can place them in a freezer bag or container.
Fact #8: You can sauté and freeze for better flavor
Another method for freezing is to cook the morels first, which causes them to keep their color and texture. To do this, sauté them for a few minutes in butter or margarine, as this intensifies flavors.
Allow the mushrooms to cool down, and toss them in the freezer. They will clump together, so make sure you use all of them when thawed.
Now that you’ve read about these facts, why not check out these 3 Ways to Dry Morel Mushrooms?