How to Pick, Clean, and Cook (Fry) Morel Mushrooms1:48 PM
It is my FAVORITE time of year living in Nebraska. Morel mushroom sightings are being reported, and I have started heading out each morning to the river banks by my house to see if I can find a mess of them to cook for my family.
These delicious, fragrant, and rich mushrooms are unlike any other in that they are easy to identify in the wild, and are a delicacy worldwide. My favorite thing to do with them is eat them, but I usually take some time to make sure I clean and fry them just right!
How to Pick a Morel Mushroom
The morels are ready when they are ready. There is no magical "size" that means they are ready to be picked. Since they die and dry up at their full size, you should probably pick the ones you find when you find them -- even if they are on the smallish size. (I've left a few "tinies" that were too small to be eaten, and someone came along that afternoon and picked them behind me!)
You'll want to look for the brain-like texture to be sure they are morels. They are hollow inside, and they are usually a yellow or cream in color when fresh, and they start to get orange or grey as they shrivel up and dry out. You can still pick drying ones. (A little time in some salt water will perk them back up good as new for eating.)
I like to pinch them off at the ground level, trying not to pull them out of the earth. Some people swear that putting the mushroom in a mesh bag let's the spores drop all over the ground while you continue to hunt (thus helping them multiply for further years), but the jury is out on if this actually does any good.
How to Clean Morel Mushrooms
Now that you have them home, it's time to wash and cook them.
Most of the time, your mushroom will be clean, and you can just rinse them or let them soak in a little salt water. This both improves the flavor and ensure any little buggies can drown and float out of the mushroom before you cook them. Since we have been finding very large ones the last few years, I've started to slice them in half for easier cleaning, bug inspection, and cooking. How long you soak is up to you, but a couple of hours is more than enough.
How to Cook or Fry Morel Mushrooms
Cooking is a treat that I can't enjoy more! Even my kids who hate mushrooms (the button kind) love morels. They are just so much different than a typical mushroom.
I mix up a couple of farm fresh eggs in a bowl and dip my soaked and patted-dry mushrooms in them. I then let the egg mixture "fall off" before transferring them into a bowl with a mixture of seasoned flour and crushed cracker crumbs. (The Nebraska river bottom dwellers swear by crushing saltines for the breading. They couldn't be more accurate in how awesome it makes them taste.)
Fry them in a skillet or cast-iron pan with vegetable oil until golden brown and "sputtering." Serve hot. These are the best!
Have you ever searched for morel mushrooms? They are a treat, aren't they?