Morel Mushrooms: How to Find, Store and Cook with Morels

It’s spring, and that means hunting for morels in Northern Michigan’s outdoors.  With a perforated bag in hand, foragers flock to their secret spots for a hike through the woods in search of a particularly tempting, decadent wild mushroom: the morel.  If you’re new to the sport of morel hunting, read on to learn tips for locating this treasured food find, and check out a handful of delicious recipes—featuring Northern Michigan wine, dairy, and more—that employ this staple of Northern Michigan’s local foods scene.

Foraging for Morels

It takes eagle eyes and sturdy legs to bring home morels. While your hiking in the forest, keep a special eye out underneath poplar and old apple trees—known morel habitat. Also know that where there’s one morel, there are probably more. If you spot one, stop, crouch down near ground level and scan the horizon 20 feet out in all directions: getting down near the ground helps you spot them against the backdrop of a lighter colored sky.

Watch The Following Video To Learn About Finding And Cleaning Morels

Fungi grow in the woods, but that doesn’t make them dirty, and washing or soaking mushrooms is a major culinary no-no. Instead, brush off any excess dirt with your hands, or at most a damp paper towel. Harvesting with a knife ensures a clean cut through the stem above the ground, leaving the dirt in the woods where it belongs.

It’s rare that you’ll find more morels than you can eat in one meal, but if you hit the jackpot, simply store morels in the fridge wrapped in a damp paper towel. They’ll last for up to one week. You can also dry them in a food dehydrator or laid out on cookie sheets in a very low oven and use them later in soups or sauces—just soak them in water first to reconstitute them.

Morels 201: Tips for How to Store Morels, From Chef and Morel Expert Lucy House

Read an Interview with Boyne City’s Main Morel Man, Tony Williams, for Foraging Tips

Cooking with Morel Mushrooms

Morels are an coveted for their deep, rich taste, and the mushrooms add a distinct wholesomeness to many dishes.  Yet, beyond the simple butter sauté, it can be tricky to utilize this special ingredient properly: morels aren’t just any old mushroom, after all.  Here are several tried-and-true recipes that feature morels prominently, and that will have you out the next morning scouring for more of these tasty toadstools:

Northern Michigan Morel1) Our Favorite Morel Risotto

  • The woodsy, smoky fragrance of morels takes center stage in this creamy, Sherry-infused risotto.

2) Grilled Morel Pizza from The Rowe Inn in Ellsworth

  • ←These appetizer-sized pizzas are piled high with the good stuff: morels, caramelized onions, sage and Beemster vlaskaas cheese.

3) Morel Mac and Cheese from the Jolly Pumpkin in Traverse City

  • Truffle oil, mascarpone, a little Tabasco, morels and more—it’s a do-not-share kind of dish.

4) Smoke Pheasant and Morel Galantine

5) View 5 Recipes by Ruth Mossok Johnston, author of The Art of Cooking Morels

  • Morel master Ruth Mossok Johnston gives morel-cooking tips and reveals recipes for asparagus and morel soup, rib-eyes with red zin-morel sauce and more.

6) Find More Recipes at MyNorth’s Recipe Collection!

  • Find morel recipes and other exquisite dishes at MyNorth’s Digital Recipe Book: use the search tool bar to find recipes with your favorite ingredient!

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Article Comments

  • vickie

    I’ve always wanted to pick morels but so afraid of getting ones that will be bad for you. I think I would have to go with someone first.