In this article, we’ll show you how to clean morel mushrooms, that strange and brain-like mushroom that you either found in the forest or bought at the farmer’s market. Follow along for a step-by-step guide, along with tips on storage.
Morel mushrooms are known for their honeycomb-like shape. These ridges and pits compose what we would call the cap on a standard mushroom. While beautiful, the honeycomb pattern of morel mushrooms makes them quite difficult to clean, as the mushrooms can easily carry dirt and insects in these small pockets. So it is essential to thoroughly clean them and store them properly — nobody wants to bite into an unexpected chunk of the forest floor.
Storing Morel Mushrooms
Morels need air and tend to wither away if placed in air-tight spaces like Tupperware containers or ziplock bags. Before cooking, try to keep your morels in a dry, cool place, with lots of access to airflow. They will keep in the fridge for a few days, but, like other wild mushrooms, it is best to eat your morels when they are as fresh as possible.
Check out this guide to storing various foods correctly, including mushrooms!
There are a few different methods to cleaning morel mushrooms, which we will discuss at the end of the article. By far the most common method, however, is the Quick Rinse and Soak method.
How to Clean Morel Mushrooms: The Quick Rinse and Soak Method
Follow these five simple steps to clean your morels.
- Place your morels in a colander and quickly rinse them in cold water.
- Gently (!) shake the mushrooms around in the colander, allowing some of the surface dirt and grime to detach and flow down the sink.
- Next, about 45 minutes before you’re ready to cook them, put your mushrooms in a cold bath of fresh water with a tiny portion of salt, in order to drown out any stubborn bugs or dirt. It is not recommended to soak them for more than 30 minutes, as they will start to lose their fresh, meaty texture in the water.
- After 30 minutes, take your mushrooms out of their bath and allow them to dry on a clean kitchen towel. Dab them lightly to get rid of any excess moisture—the mushrooms should ideally be dry before being thrown into the pan.
- Cook your mushrooms and enjoy! We recommend simply sautéeing them in some butter or olive oil, with just a little bit of salt and pepper.
Note: If you want to save your morels for a special occasion, you can cool them after sautéeing, and then place them in an air-tight container in the freezer. They will keep for up to 6 months! And there’s no need to use freezer bags or other types of plastic.
Check out these alternatives: Freeze Foods without Plastic: 6 Sustainable Household Hacks.
Other Methods for Cleaning Morels
Wanting to try something different? Foragers disagree on which method is best to clean morel mushrooms. However, most agree that they need a thorough shaking to dislodge any bugs or dirt within their brainy shape.
Here are two additional methods for cleaning morels:
- Shake and rinse: Simply place your morels in a colander and give them a good shake to remove as much loose dirt from them as possible, then briefly rinse by swishing around in a bowl of cold water before drying them on a clean kitchen towel.
- Long Soak: If you struggle to get all the dirt and bugs out of your morels, some experts advise that you soak them for several hours before rinsing and drying. However, this method will likely result in a slightly less firm and flavorsome mushroom.
Whichever way you clean your morels, try to do it gently, as you don’t want to bruise these precious edibles before they hit the frying pan. Enjoy these specialty treats, and happy foraging!
Note: Looking to grow mushrooms on your own? Check out this step-by-step guide to growing mushrooms at home.** Links to retailers are partially affiliate links: If you buy here, you actively support Utopia.org because we get a small portion of the proceeds.
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