Can't wait 'til spring to savor the flavor?
We think they're delicious year-round. Dehydrating is the best way to preserve morels. Our pickers place them on non-metalic screens and let the sun and wind dry them. The critters sometimes found in fresh morels don't want a suntan so they soon vacate the premises. The morels last indefinitely if kept dry. When you're ready to consume, simply soak them in room temperature water for 4 hours (2 cups of water for each ounce of morels). Next, remove them from the water and let them drain. The water will will turn brown and may be strained through a coffee filter and saved for soup or broth. Prepare the morels the same as you would fresh ones. They don't lose any flavor or texture.
One ounce will rehydrate to one-half pound. Two ounces will rehydrate to a full pound.
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NEW Dried Morel FAQ below!
Dehydrated Black Morels
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Drying morel mushrooms is the perfect way to enjoy that exquisite earthy-nutty-meaty flavor all year long. While there are many ways to preserve morels, we think that dehydrating them is the best.
Some commercial pickers use dehydrators, but they are on a much larger scale than what you would find at the local store. The drying process involves heat and air movement. The source of heat is the critical ingredient. We prefer drying naturally, using the heat from the sun to dry the morels. But, the commercial pickers have to dry a lot of morels at a time - literally thousands of pounds! So, they set up a temporary structure in the woods constructed of wood and plastic and force heated air through the room using propane heaters. They place the morels on shelves made of non-metallic screens.
In my opinion, I don't think there is any difference. If the dried morels are lacking in flavor, they probably lacked flavor when they were fresh also. Or, they were not prepared, stored, or cooked properly. If the flavor of the fresh ones is good, it should be the same after drying and then reconstituting.
If there are insects present, they will usually go away in the drying process
- they don't like the heat and air movement. Those that don't escape usually
end up in the bottom of the
dehydrator or will be removed when reconstituted. That's the purpose of filtering the water used in re-hydrating. See below.
If harvested, dried, and stored correctly, they will last indefinitely.
To rehydrate morels prior to consumption, simply place them in water for two
to four hours. Use two cups of water for each ounce of dried morels. They will
re-hydrate more rapidly
if you slice them in half after they start to soften. Rinse them after re-hydrating, but save the original soaking water. Then, place them in a colander or on several layers of paper towels to drain. At this point they may be prepared the same as if they were fresh. The soaking water will turn brown. This is normal and you may want to strain it through a coffee filter or a paper towel to save it for a soup stock as it will contain that distinctive taste of morel mushrooms. After re-hydrating, they should be consumed within forty-eight hours and kept in the refrigerator prior to consumption. One final caution is that rehydrated morels are easily over-cooked when fried. Experience is the best teacher so dont set your burner too high or let them cook too long.
First of all, the morels should be fresh when picked. You can determine how fresh they were when picked by the size of the pits and ridges on the cap. If the pits are opened up and the ridges are starting to thin, they are mature, which is still good. If the ridges that divide the pits are close together and thick, they were younger when picked. If the ridges have broken off, they were too mature and possibly spoiled when picked.
Secondly, you have to know how they were harvested and dried. Morels should
be cut or pinched off above ground. This keeps them cleaner. Morels that are
to be dehydrated should NEVER be washed beforehand. They should be dried straight
from the harvest without touching water. If the morels are washed before drying,
they will be dark and have the texture of leather when re-hydrated. In fact,
even fresh morels shouldn't be washed or soaked unless you plan to consume them
within a day or two.
And finally, they should be thoroughly dried, to the point that they are crispy, like a potato chip. They should be stored so that they don't get near any moisture.
The accepted rule-of-thumb is that an ounce of dried morels will become eight ounces (one-half pound) when rehydrated and two ounces dried will become a full pound. The opposite is not necessarily true. A half pound of fresh morels will dry to approximately one ounce. It depends on the moisture content of the fresh morels. Dehydrating simply removes the moisture from the morels.
Mostly for appearance. Many of the commercial pickers sell to restaurants. Some chefs don't want the stems and so the pickers cut the morels at the top of the stem. Personally, I like the stem included.
The black morels are one of the three main varieties of morels.
Morchella esculenta - white, gray, yellow morel
Morchella elata - black morel
Morchella semilibera - half-free morel
Mycologolists (scientists that study fungi) do not agree on how many species the genera Morchella contains. The three listed above are the most commonly accepted. Some of the others are: deliciosa, angusticeps, crassipies or crassipes, crassistipa, rotunda, conica, atrotomentosa, umbrina, vulgaris, and hybrida. Black morels can be found anywhere you would find the yellow/grays, but they are not as common in the Midwest as the yellow/grays. They are more prevalent north of the 45th parallel (Northern Michigan, Northern Minnesota, Montana, Idaho, Oregon, Washington, and Canada).
When it come to purchasing black morels, there are two distinctions: "burn morels" and "natural blacks". The "burn morels" are the ones that grow in areas where a forest fire occurred the previous year. The "natural blacks" grow in areas where there was no visible ground trauma. Some people prefer one over the other, but there isn't a great difference in taste.
It all depends on what you are used to or what you grew up with. If you were raised on the yellow/grays, you probably think they taste better. If you grew up consuming black morels, you probably prefer them. I personally think the baby gray morels have the best flavor (it's what I grew up on), but many people who have tried both prefer the black morels and believe they have a stronger, "meatier" flavor.
It's purely a matter of supply and demand. There are a lot more black morels available. There are fewer commercial pickers in the areas where yellow/gray morels grow. The black morel season also last longer, even into August in some areas.
Selling fresh morels doesn't work well for us. To begin with, we are busy enough
in the spring that we don't have time to handle the logistics. We would have
to store them refrigerated to keep them fresh. They would have to be shipped
"Next Day" to ensure freshness. And, of course, since they weigh more,
the shipping costs could be double the price of the morels.
Prepared By: Tom Nauman, MOREL MANIA, INC.