The Wonderful Edible Morel Mushroom
Treasures of Early Spring
It's early spring, the sun is shining, birds are chirping, and people like me are itching to get outdoors. This is a great time of year to get out and enjoy many different spring activities. My favorite is hunting Morel mushrooms. They only grow in the spring, from about mid March to mid May, and they are a wonderful treat that can be cooked in a number of different ways and make the perfect side dish or topper for most meals.
Now don't get me wrong, to enjoy this wild and tasty treat is no easy task. Morels generally grow in areas around dead or dying elm, or ash trees, around areas of exposed limestone, etc. But I have found them in a number of locations that normally aren't associated with the growth of the Morel. To find these spots where they grow abundantly, takes countless hours of searching. And once found are to be guarded with extreme secrecy. Morels are a prized delicacy to many people and most Morel hunters will not share their special spots.
Morels have a wonderful strong flavor that cannot be compared with any other food, whether fungal or not. Once you've got a mess, then it's time to prepare them for a meal. the best way to do this is to soak them for a few hours in water. Morels have a texture on the outside that allows small insects such as ants and dirt to get in them. By soaking them in water and running water over each one you can successfully remove all of the foreign materials. Next I take each mushroom and slice it in half from top to bottom. Then run more water over them to ensure that the inside is clean too.
After cleaning and slicing each mushroom it is time to cook them. There are many recipes and preferred methods for doing this. Among my favorites is to either sautee' them in butter, salt, pepper and garlic. Or the most common way to cook them is to batter and fry them. You can use practically any batter you want. But my favorite is to dip the Morels into a bowl of raw egg, and then batter them with saltine cracker or bread crumbs, then deep fry. Add seasoning to taste after frying. These make a wonderful side dish to most foods especially a good ole' grilled burger.
Now if you find a lot of mushrooms and want to store them for awhile, then the best way to do this is to fresh freeze them. Some people would disagree with me on this, because once you thaw them out they turn into a mushy mess. What these people don't realize is that you shouldn't thaw them prior to cooking. Make sure your grease oil or butter is hot before you even take the mushrooms out of the freezer. However you can also dry them, when your ready to eat them just soak them in water or milk to bring them back to life.
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