Blanketing the ground in the spring, there is no doubt that morels are the King of Mushrooms. Popping up under dying elm trees, sick or diseased white firs, poplars and cottonwoods, the morel is happiest in the worst of conditions. They love logged, bulldozed, or areas that burned last summer. In the PNW we find them after a good dose of spring rain, and then when it drys a bit. Getting the “hunting” eye is essential for the morel, as it’s mimicked by any number of decoying pinecones, rocks, or bark.
Ryan, like hunting for wild game, is an excellent mushroom hunter. His patience and keen sense of environment, mean a bounty of excellent morels for us to eat! Hearty, meaty, and with an earthy mushroom taste, morels are a perfect food to sautee, grill, or add to soups.
Dehydrated they can be added to soups or stir fries any time of the year, but unless you are diligent about storing them, it is unlikely you can hold yourself back from eating them all when fresh!
There are three types of morels: naturals, burn, and gray morels. After harvesting it important to wash them because they are usually full of bugs or worms, so it’s very hard to get rid of them, but once cooked these will all die. Make sure if you soak them in salt water it’s not for long and you plan on eating them right away, otherwise they will get soggy and destroyed. They can be stored fresh for a few days in the fridge or dehydrated for future use.
Warning: Never eat uncooked morels! They contain a compound that is not good for the stomach and will cause illness. When fully cooked they do not have this side effect. Of course, if you have any mushroom allergy, it’s a good idea NOT to eat morels…sorry:(.