When we talk about mushrooms, we usually think of mushrooms like the common white buttons or the tanned creminis. But there is actually a long list of edible mushrooms that you may have never heard of. After all, mushroom cultivation boasts an extensive history. Mushrooms are presently commercially cultivated in at least sixty countries with over twenty species. People love mushrooms!

What are morel mushrooms?

But long before mushrooms were sold commercially, human beings had been foraging wild mushrooms in the forest. Even to this day, many species of mushrooms that are sold commercially are still foraged from the forest. Amongst the wild mushrooms, one of the most highly prized species is the morel mushroom, which is a common ingredient amongst gourmet chefs, particularly in French cuisine.

Morel mushrooms have caps with a similar resemblance to honeycombs. Their colour varies from blonde to grey to dark brown, and are often the size of your fingertips. But as charming and exotic as morels look, the reason why people actually love these wild mushrooms so much is because they are super delicious! Unlike many mushrooms that can get a little slimy or slippery, morel mushrooms have a meatier and nutty texture with a woodsy, toasted flavour. If you like mushrooms, morels may easily become your favourite. And if you don’t like mushrooms, you will probably make an exception for morels.

Are they good for you?

Besides being good-looking and tasty–because what more could you ask for–morel mushrooms also offer great nutritional value. As these mushrooms grow in forests, they are loaded with nutrients from the natural soil. They offer a significant amount of iron, copper, zinc, phosphorus,manganese, vitamin D, folate, niacin, riboflavin, and a good source of calcium, potassium, magnesium, selenium, thiamine, vitamin E, and vitamin B6. Apart from minerals and vitamins, morel mushrooms are an excellent source of protein and fibre.

Why are morels expensive?

Morel mushrooms are cannot be farmed due to their unique symbiotic relationship with certain trees–conditions that are near impossible to replicate in a cultivated environment. Because of this, morels are often handpicked by long distances of travelling, hiking, and camping through unpredictable climate changes and terrains, and eventually somehow brought back in an acceptable condition to be sold.

How do you prepare morel mushrooms?

Morel mushrooms benefit from repeated soaking and rinsing in order to get rid of the ashes and dirt hidden in the honeycomb crevices. In terms of cooking, sauteing is always a great way to serve mushrooms. Start by dry sauteing in a pan over high heat. As the water from the mushrooms evaporate, add butter and continue stirring to avoid burning. Add a splash of white wine to give it more flavour. There’s no need for salt!

We definitely recommend you trying morel mushrooms whether you love mushrooms or not. Let us know what you think about these exotic-looking wild mushrooms, and what your favourite ways are to prepare them.

Daniel is a Digital Marketing and Content Strategist at SPUD. He graduated from UBC with a degree in English and International Relations with a focus on environmental topics. A wordsmith by day and a bookman by night, he's a self-proclaimed gastronomic snob, a buck-a-shuck addict, a sub-par skier, and a devoted kingsguard of the oxford comma. He also frequents the dog park with a schnauzer named Duke. | Instagram: @dannnyellow

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