Tuesday, May 31, 2011


     One of the great things of spring is morel season. When I was home over the Victoria Day weekend, I lucked into four pounds of these delicious wild mushrooms. They are the only ones I can always identify that are safe to eat. As we were hunting, I saw lots of other kinds. I wish I knew more about mushrooming and which ones wouldn't cause horrible, painful death. A quick note on morel safety, false morels are easy to distinguish. Real morels are hollow, false morels are not.

Morels, funny looking deliciousness

     I have eaten morels since I was a kid and never really thought much about them. They grow all over the place at home, nothing special. It was only when I moved to the city and saw them selling for $40.00 a pound, I realized what I had taken for granted.

My $40.00 worth, and we got four of these baskets!

     Why are they so expensive? They can't be cultivated and are only in season for a few weeks in the spring. A few of the ones I brought home were starting to rot, either too late in the season or the extremely wet spring we are having. They have a tougher, almost leathery texture, with an intense mushroom flavour.

     We always ate them fried in butter, like any other mushroom and that is still my favourite way to have them. There are many other ways to prepare them and I'll let you know how I stored, preserved, canned mine.

     First you have to clean them. I was foolish and didn't cut the stems as I was picking so dragged a lot of extra dirt along. Never again. Because of the brainy looking tops, they are hard to clean. Because they are hollow, they make excellent hiding places for all kinds of forest creepy crawlies.

     Popular theory says to soak them, some times overnight to get rid of the bugs and dirt. I say no, treat them like any other mushroom. Fungus of any kind is really porous so soaks up water like a sponge, ruining the taste and texture. Brush them and if really dirty or buggy a quick rinse and your done. A funny aside, I thought Ferd was going to have a stroke when he saw a slug come out of the ones he was cleaning. LMAO

     Once you have them cleaned you have several options, eat them fresh, dry, pickle or freeze them. I did the first three but didn't freeze any. Most people swore by freezing them but mushrooms don't normally freeze well. Any time I have frozen them, they were a gooey mess when thawed so...

     I got out my trusty Ronco dehydrator (thank you Ron Popiel, remember him, the infomercial guy?) and 12 hours later had a bunch of perfectly dried mushrooms to be used in sauces, stews, pasta and dried mushroom tarts. Easy and convenient, both good in my books and I didn't lose any valuable freezer real estate.

     The last pound went into pickles. I have never pickled mushrooms before and am hoping they end up kind of like the marinated mushrooms I have posted previously. It is a really easy recipe and can be used for any kind of mushroom. I got the recipe online and made my substitutions.


1 pound of mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
6 small green onions, cleaned and thinly sliced
1 1/2 cup vinegar - at least 5% acidity for food safety*
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon pickling salt **
bay leaves
garlic cloves

* The acidity of the brine is what makes canning safe, don't use less than 5% vinegar and don't reduce the amount

**Pickling salt is made for canning and doesn't have the additives other salts may so I don't substitute


Prepare and sterilize jars and lids as per manufacturers instructions
Combine vinegar, water, wine, sugar and salt in a stainless steel pot and bring to a boil
Add mushrooms and onions, bring back to a boil then reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes.
Place 1 bay leaf, 3-4 peppercorns and  1 garlic clove in the bottom of your jars. These ingredients are just for flavour so use as many or few as you like or omit them altogether. The same applies for the green onion.
Ladle hot mixture into jars, leaving 1/2 inch of head space and process 10 minutes in a boiling water bath.
Let sit for two weeks to develop the flavour.
I got 3 250 ml jars.

     Mine will be ready next weekend so I will let you know how they taste and if this recipe is a keeper.

     What is your favourite way to prepare morels?

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