Dried Morels[ PURCHASE INFO ]
Dried Morels: Dried Morels are a convenient way to stock one the world's most popular gourmet mushrooms. Morel mushrooms have not taken to commercial growing, so virtually all of the morels on the market have been picked in the wild. Dried Morels are almost a necessity, fresh primarily grow in forests for 2 or 3 years after a fire has burned through. Morel hunters chase forest fires, and in Europe where slash and burn is still used the burned areas are jealously guarded. Drying the mushrooms gives them almost indefinite shelf life, and they are easily reconstituted with very good results. Because of it's value as a gourmet ingredient and it's unique growing locations, morel hunting has become a bit of a sport, with festivals and contests celebrating it's hunters, and folks who plan their vacations around morel harvesting. It has been estimated that there are over 300,000 morel hunters in the US alone! Dried morels have a unigue egg shaped "waffled" head, with distinct ridges in a honeycomb pattern. The head, or ascocarp, contains millions of spores which are it's seeds. The spores do not travel far from the mushroom, so hunters leave a few mushrooms unpicked to seed their crop for the next season.
Dried Morels are easily reconstituted by soaking in warm water. The soak water may be kept and used as stock. Dried morels have an earthy and smokey flavor that goes well with many dishes: beef, poultry, seafood, wild game... Morels are not as easily dried as some other mushrooms, but drying is definitely the best way to preserve them. They are hollow which does promote drying, and they are usually cut in half lengthwise to open the hollow center. Store dried morels in an airtight container and they can reportedly last for years. It takes 8-10 pounds of fresh to make one pound of dried, so a little bit goes a long way when purchasing dried varieties. Dried morels are wonderful in soups and stews, risottos and quiches.
Where to buy: Dried Morels