Before you cook up your morel treasure, you’ll want to look them over and see how much cleaning they need. They may just need a soft brushing or a quick rinse under cool water. Cut the mushrooms in half lengthwise and inspect the hollow center. If they appear to be bug-free, just brush or rinse off any dirt and pat them dry with a paper towel.
If they have a lot of tiny bugs on them (like my batch of mushrooms did), try soaking them in some lightly salted water — a tablespoon or so of salt to two quarts of water. Our foraging guide Ryan Hines called these bugs leapers, and if that is what they are called, they are aptly named! They were strange and difficult to remove. I skimmed off the bugs that floated to the surface with a fine strainer. Soak your morels for 10 minutes. Rinse again and pat dry with paper towels.
It’s best to clean your morels right before you cook them. They will store well in a brown paper bag in the fridge for a couple of days, but once you wash them, they will deteriorate more quickly.
- 5 fresh morel mushrooms, cleaned and sliced in half
- 1 cup all purpose flour
- 1 egg
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter or olive oil
- Mix the flour salt and pepper in a wide, shallow bowl. Beat the egg lightly in a separate bowl. Melt the butter or heat the oil in a large skillet over medium high heat.
- Dip the mushroom halves into the egg and place them in the flour. (I recommend doing all of the egg coating before handling the mushrooms in the flour. Otherwise, you’ll be washing your hands a lot.) Use a fork to move the mushrooms around in the flour until they are fully coated. Shake them gently before placing them in the hot oil or butter. Don’t overcrowd them in the pan. (You may need to do more than one batch.)
- Allow the mushrooms to brown on one side before flipping them, about 5 minutes, then brown the other side. Use a spatula to press them down in the pan if you like to brown all the nooks and crannies. Adjust your temperature to avoid smoking, but don't fret -- the excess flour will be browning in the pan and a little smoke is nothing to worry about.
- Once both sides of the mushroom halves are brown with a slight crunch, they are ready to serve. Enjoy these within the half hour.
Kayte Young is the Nutrition Coordinator at Mother Hubbard’s Cupboard.