Table of content A-Z

 

morel

 

Botanical name: Morchella esculenta


Morchel

 

Morels belong to the best-quality mushrooms and are found only wild in nature, not cultivated. They grow in lowland forests, preferably near ash trees, in grassy clearings, on river banks, in gardens and on lawns. They avoid fertilized soil.


Availability


Morels can be picked from April until June. As they are generally rather rare, however, they should be protected. With some luck you will find them at a well-assorted market, but they are an expensive treat.

Morels that are offered for sale are mostly from Turkey, Pakistan, Italy and the Alsace, because in Germany collecting morels for commercial purposes is not allowed.


Appearance, taste, characteristics


The mushrooms reach a height of about 4–12 cm and have a roundish, egg-shaped cap that may be light ochre to dark brown. Especially characteristic is the structure of its cap: the netlike or honeycombed folds and depressions on the surface are very striking. Furthermore, the stem, as well as the cap on top of it, is hollow. As the morel ages it changes colour from whitish-grey to yellowish or reddish.

The flesh is very fragile and has a pleasantly aromatic and spicy taste and smell.

In Germany about 12 different varieties can be found. Two of these are particularly important: the conic morel (M. conica) and the common morel (M. esculenta). The common morels are identified by a rounded cap; conic morels are somewhat smaller and darker than the common morels and are held to be tastier. Their cap tapers upwards to a conical shape and is ribbed lengthwise; i.e., the walls of the 'honeycombs' are parallel to each other.


Ingredients


Morels are distinguished by a high content of fibre and vitamin D.

100 g contain:


Morel, fresh
Energy (kcal)
11
Water (g)
89
Protein (g)
1,7
Fat (g)
< 1
Carbohydrates (g)
< 1
Fibre (g)
7
Vitamin B1 (μg)
130
Vitamin B2 (μg)
60
Niacin (NE) (mg)
5,4
Pantothenic acid (mg)
2,5
Biotin (μg)
15
Vitamin D (μg)
3,1
Potassium (mg)
390
Phosphorous (mg)
162
Iron (mg)
1,2



Quality criteria, optimal storage conditions


Morels do not keep very long. To store them briefly, it is recommended to put them in the refrigerator. Otherwise they should be used as soon as possible after they are picked.


Form of consumption, use, processing, practical tips for preparation


Before they are used morels should be cleaned thoroughly, because dirt, sand or tiny animals can easily collect in the honeycomb structure of the cap. The best way is to rinse the mushrooms several times with water and pour it away. To remove the rest of the water you can dry them in a salad spinner. For difficult-to-remove dirt a mushroom brush or a new toothbrush can be helpful.

When a large quantity is to be consumed it is recommended to boil the mushrooms once and to throw away the water.

The stems are frequently used as the basis for soups or sauces, while the caps are usually eaten whole. Morels are suited as an accompaniment to meat and fish and are excellent with asparagus. They dry well and in this form give many dishes a particular flavour.


Seasoning tip


The most varied herbs can be combined with morels, e.g., parsley, chervil, tarragon, rosemary and thyme. A morel-based sauce can be refined with a dash of cognac.


Miscellaneous


Attention: Inexperienced mushroom collectors should always look very carefully whether they have actually picked morels, as they very closely resemble the poisonous turban top. A look at a mushroom guide makes it easy to tell the difference. The honeycomb structure of the morels appears to be more ordered in comparison to the cap structure of the turban top, which looks like the convolutions of a brain.

Asian restaurants have many dishes with morels on their menus. These are not the common or the conic morels, however, but the Chinese morel, which is not comparable in taste and is much less expensive.

 

 

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