Morel Mushrooms

05/26/2014

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This past week, I’ve been watching my Facebook news feed with such envy as my Midwestern family and friends post pictures of their recent morel mushroom finds. Morels are not found around these North Florida parts, unfortunately, so I had to turn to my mushroom logs for something tasty instead. Or so I thought.

I watched these things sprout knowing full well that they were not shittakes, but if my memory serves right, I thought we had inoculated some of the logs with a different species of mushrooms. But for the life of me, I couldn’t remember what. Hen of the Woods, perhaps? Gary did warn me of Rule No. 1 of mushroom eating: NEVER eat one unless you are 100% sure of what it is. But I though, heck, they’re on our logs, that we inoculated, they’ll be just fine! I cut them off, sautéed them with soy sauce and butter, and before I put them on my pizza I was making for dinner, I bit into one: it was definitely NOT edible. I can’t quite describe what it tasted like; dirt, perhaps, or what you would expect if you decided to gnaw on one of those bracket mushrooms on dead trees? Blech!! Needless to say, I didn’t die from the experience, but we did have a mushroom-less pizza for dinner that night.

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Inedible mushrooms aside, I instead want to devote the rest of this blog waxing on about the fabulousness of morels! I miss lots of things about the Midwest, but morels ranges toward the top of the list with my family (especially my super squeezable niece & nephew) and fresh apples. Much of the goodness about morels is the search. I liken searching for morels to searching for scallops–both are scavenger hunts for delectables! In both instances, you’re in beautiful parts of nature–the woods and the sea–and you come across this delicious morsel that is incredibly camouflaged. My “gatherer” part of my female brain sends out a “WIN!” signal every time one is spotted.

According to lore, morels are up when the oak leaves are the size of a squirrel’s ear. (Whatever that means.) And you find them around the roots near dead or partially dying Ash trees. They look so similar to dead leaves, you can often miss a whole clump if you’re not careful. Some years they are in abundance, other times not at all. But even if none are found, the walk through the woods is still wonderful.

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{My brother, Thomas, cooking up a good morel find one year.}

My favorite way to cook them is simply sautéing them in soy sauce and butter. (And definitely use butter; morels are worth their weight in gold, so use the Real Deal and not olive oil.)

Ingredients:

1 lb morels
3 T soy sauce
3 T butter
pinch of garlic salt

Instructions:

After a delightful walk in the woods, take your find back to the house. Cut off the bottom part that may still have mud on it. Cut the morel in half length-wise. If they’re a little buggy, soak them in cold salty water, which will kill the ants (and other things.) Next, dry them off. Get a skillet hot to medium heat, and melt the butter. Throw in the morels. Once they’re almost finished cooking–about 3-4 minutes–throw in the soy sauce and a pinch of the garlic salt. You can eat these plain, put them on pizzas, in sauces, risottos, quiches, all egg dishes, just about anything.

Eat them and think of me, and know that I am absolutely pinning over your dinner.

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