Morels are a type of mushroom that cooks, and chefs want on special recipes even if they are quite expensive compared to other mushrooms.
Commonly called morels, these mushrooms are seasonal and very hard to cultivate. They grow better in the wild and highly perishable when picked that is also why they are pricy when sold in the market.
Interestingly, morels are harvested in the wilds and has very short growing season so you cannot see them all year round. You can often see these mushrooms available only between March to June as they usually thrive during spring.
So, if morel mushrooms are hard to come by and easily wither, can you freeze morels?
Morel mushrooms can be frozen but not the fresh or raw ones as they tend to sag and loose its taste and change texture once thawed. To be sure that the taste and texture will not change, it’s best to store or freeze boiled or sautéed morels.
Let us know more about this mushroom and learn how freeze them.
What is a Morel mushroom?
Morel mushrooms looks differently than other kinds of mushrooms. It looks like a cone or a honeycomb and feels spongy on your hands. It has pale cream or white colored stem as well as its cone. They also come in yellowish, brownish, gray, or grayish black and olive color.
Morels as they’re commonly called are from the Morchella species of mushrooms. Though there are different kinds of mushrooms, this one stood out due to its different look, color, and distinct taste.
How to freeze Morel mushrooms
It is important to keep in mind that raw or fresh morels should be not frozen as this will spoil its taste and texture.
So, what is the best way if you want to freeze your morel mushrooms?
Morels can be prepared for freezing in two methods. First is to boil them, and second is to sauté them.
Boiling your mushrooms for freezing
Boiling the morel mushrooms is the simple and easy way to prepare them before freezing.
- You can boil your morels for three to five minutes in a pot or pan.
- After boiling, let it cool for some minutes and set it in an airtight food container or sealable food wraps.
- You can now put them in your freezer.
Sautéing your mushrooms for freezing
Another way to prepare your morels for freezing is to sauté them. It is simple and you can follow these steps.
- Prepare them in a batch of 1 pound per container.
- Soak them in water with salt for three to 5 minutes and turn them every after one minute.
- Pre-heat your pan with melted butter in medium heat temperature.
- Drain soaked mushrooms and sauté them for five minutes in low to medium heat temperature.
While the mushrooms will release water while you are sautéing, and that liquid contains the flavor and taste of the morels.
Let the sautéed mushrooms cool for a while then allocate them in a container together with the extracted liquid to be stored in your freezer. The liquid extract will help morels keep its taste when thawed.
Frozen boiled or sautéed morels have a shelf life up to one year.
Why do people love Morel mushrooms?
Morels are expensive and hard to find in the market, but people and chefs want to have this kind of mushroom in their kitchen because of its taste and health benefits.
Morel mushrooms are thick and very consistent even when cooked. It has a distinct nutty meaty flavor and they are not slimy when cooked compared to other types of mushrooms.
As for health advantages, this mushroom has high Vitamin D content unlike other mushrooms. It also has potassium, copper and some amounts of other vitamins and minerals.
It has very low calories, so calorie conscious people need not worry about eating this food. Also, some attributed heart health from eating morels.
How to buy Morel mushrooms
Fresh morels are soft and spongy when held. Also, you can see that it is moisturized not dry or withering.
As to the smell, fresh morels give off a natural smell like the forests.
Other ways to store Morels
In the first part of this article, I explained how you can freeze the mushrooms and the best way to do it. Nevertheless, if you do not like the idea of freezing it here are some points to remember.
Storing Morel mushrooms fresh
Apart from freezing morel mushrooms, the easiest way is to refrigerate it.
You can store morels in the vegetable crisper section of the fridge and in that way it can last until seven days.
Remember that when refrigerating morels, it should be packaged with a piece of paper towel or placed inside a paper bag that will sip the condensed water from the mushrooms while inside the fridge.
Packing it that way before storing it in the fridge can help prevent mushroom from sagging and even promote longer shelf life.
Freeze drying Morel mushrooms
Have you tried to freeze drying? It is a method where the food to be stored is frozen first. Then it is placed in a vacuum chamber under low heat to undergo the sublimation process. This process is done when storing food and other perishable items so that it can be preserved for longer period than by simply freezing them.
This will be easy if you have a freeze dryer at home and this is the best choice to store your morel mushrooms and ensure it retain freshness.
However, having a freeze dryer at home could be an investment but if you would like to freeze food and vegetables, other than morel mushrooms, this will be very handy at home and ensure longevity of your fresh veggies and even meat.
How to defrost Morel mushrooms
Once you have frozen your mushrooms and will need to use them in your recipe. Do not force thawing by putting it in warm water or by warming it in your microwave.
Take it out from your freezer and leave it to slowly thaw in vegetable crisper section of your fridge for at least one hour or two depending on how frozen it is. Then, you can directly add the morels on your recipe.
It is also not advised to just let it sit on your countertop for thawing as some unwanted microorganism could grow into it.
Are there other ways to preserve Morel mushrooms?
You need not worry if you do not have a freeze dryer or if you do not like freezing and thawing.
You can still store morels at home by using other methods like air drying, using a food dryer or an oven to dry them.
It is important to clean mushrooms before drying and storing them. Carefully rinse mushrooms in water with salt for a few minutes to ensure that no dirt is kept stuck on the mushroom stems and caps. Do not soak the mushrooms for longer hours as they may absorbed water and will make drying a bit longer.
If you will dry them using a food dryer, put it in medium heat temperature and leave the mushrooms there for not more than ten hours.
If you will simply air dry the, you need to thread and hang them in a safe rack in a shady place for one to 2 days.
If you want to dry them using an oven, be sure to set it at lowest temperature to heat the mushrooms for about eight to ten hours. You may leave the oven door slightly open to let air in and the vapor out.
How do I store dried Morel mushrooms?
Dried morels are simple and easy to store than fresh ones. Put it in an airtight food container or a zip-lock freezer bag and it could last to one year in storage at room temperature.
How do I rehydrate my Morel mushrooms?
If you need to moisten morel mushrooms you can soak mushrooms in a food bin or bowl of tap water for not more than 20 minutes. Drain it afterwards and let it dry.
Can I pick my own Morels?
Not everyone can pick mushrooms specially if they are grown in the wild like morels as it’s too risky to pick the poisonous ones.
Morel mushrooms thrive in the wild and mostly on trees like other mushrooms and it’s in fact very inviting to pick.
If you know your morels, you need to be cautious when picking them, so you will not tear the cap or cut the stem inappropriately. It is best to use a knife and pluck them carefully on its base.
While picking them, be sure to pile it nicely in your basket or container to be sure that they will not get damaged.
Remember that not all mushrooms are edible and if you’re not too familiar about morels picking them by yourself is not a good idea.