Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Spring In Missouri - Morel Mushrooms

Morel and Violets (photo credit)
It's springtime in Missouri. And I have this one, special cousin who faithfully brings me a bag of freshly picked morel mushrooms to fry up for my dad every spring.

My dad and my cousin's dad were brothers-in-law. They used to hunt mushroom together in the spring. I can remember years when they brought home trash bags full of them! What a treat to be feasted on!

My uncle has been gone for many years now and, as long as my dad was able, he would carry on the tradition by hunting mushrooms with my cousin. My dad's health will no longer permit him to get out and hunt them now, but every spring he says the same thing. "The mushrooms ought to be popping up about now. I sure wish I had me some!"

And every year, almost without fail, within a day or two of my dad saying that, my cousin shows up with his annual offering. It's come to mean an awful lot over the years...especially this year.
Morel Mushrooms Picked By My Cousin A Couple Of Years Or So Ago
I've had people ask, "What do you do with them?" and "How do you fix them?" So, I thought I'd share a short piece on how I prepare morel mushrooms.

The first thing you have to do is make sure that they really are morels and not false morels. This can easily be done by simply cutting the mushroom in half. Morel mushrooms are hollow all the way through the center; false morels are not. If it's the right time of the year (the first warm days of early spring usually following a warm rain), they look like a morel mushroom, and they're hollow in the middle, then you're good to go!

To prepare, start by sorting the mushrooms out, making sure there are no slimy ones. Cut each mushroom in half lengthwise, and put them in a bowl of salt water. I use quite a bit of salt in mine and stir until it's dissolved. Soaking the mushrooms in salt water ensures that any little critters that might be living in them come out of them. I usually soak the mushrooms for several hours or overnight. Then, drain the salt water and rinse in fresh water.

Drain the rinsed mushrooms in a colander and allow the water to drain well before going on to the next step.

To cook, I heat about 1/8" to 1/4" oil in a skillet, or frying pan, on medium to medium-high heat. (I've found that coconut oil works exceptionally well for this, but you can use whatever oil you have on hand.) I put enough flour in a plastic bag to coat the mushroom halves by placing them in it and shaking. After mushrooms are well-coated with flour, I place the mushroom halves in the skillet, salt and pepper to taste, and fry, turning once, until both sides are golden brown and the mushrooms are crispy.

When I take them out of the oil I lay them on a plate that has been covered with several layers of paper towels and allow them to drain for a few minutes before serving.

Depending on how many mushrooms you have you can make a whole meal out of them, or you can serve them as a side dish to whatever else you might wish to serve them with. The main thing is...enjoy them! Because morel mushrooms are, generally, only enjoyed for a very short time in the early spring.

For more information on morel mushrooms, feel free to visit this link from the Missouri Department Of Conservation. There's even a video where you can tag along on a mushroom hunt. Fun!!! :)

Are there any other morel mushroom lovers out there? If so, I'd love to hear from you!

Have a blessed day! And Happy Mushrooming! :)

Until Next Time...
~Rebecca

2 comments:

  1. Hi Rebecca,
    I've not had Morels for years. Any tips on how to find them?
    Love,
    Laura

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi, Laura!

      I just consulted with my cousin who is the mushroom hunting expert. He says, "We find them mainly where there is a good leaf bed of debris, around mature trees, and the forest floor usually has to have filtered light, look on the south side of north facing banks. You can also find them around burnt edges of timber. Hope that helps! Have a great day!

      Love,
      ~Rebecca

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