Wednesday, April 9, 2014
Processing Morel Mushrooms
It is that time of year, the short window when all the elements line up to provide one of Nature's most mysterious gifts, the morel mushroom. The soil temperature has to reach up toward the 50 degree mark. The atmosphere and the forest floor must be at least damp, but not soaked or too wet. Lastly, the competition on the forest floor must be scant. That is why these mushrooms are most easily found where there has been a recent forest fire. The fire not only eliminates crowding so the gnome capped fungus can push its way up, but also it sterilizes the ground so that no other microbes can beat them to the punch. It is pretty complicated. Add to that the mysterious placement of these mushrooms; sometimes they are in old growth forests, sometimes, they are at the base of Madrone trees, and sometimes they appear out of pine needles. It is quite an accomplishment to ever find them at all. I have enough that we had stroganoff,
and now I am cleaning the rest for freezing. When you bring your mushrooms home, split them lengthwise and soak them in barely salty water to remove any mites that hide in the brain-like crevices. Rinse two or three times or until the water shows no debris. Then pat them dry. I freeze small packages for spaghetti, etc. I also freeze some on trays so they stay separate for other meals. I like to have some dried also because they last forever that way. Even the Iceman had mushrooms, medicinal, I think, in his backpack. Morels dry very quickly in a dehydrator. I love them chicken-fried using the flour, egg, seasoned flour method. I cook them to a light brown and then freeze them for a classy snack later. Just thaw and broil. If you have the opportunity to hunt these spring mushrooms and have success, Bravo!