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Making Sense of Michigan Morels

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When exploring different types of cuisines and recipes, you may come across some interesting ingredients. When recipes list out things like kohlrabi, Goji berries or jicama, you may need a quick glance at a dictionary. 

Morels can be another ingredient you may need to do a quick Google search for. Yet don’t let the odd-sounding name scare you. Morels are really just a type of wild mushroom that brings its own unique flavor and richness to dishes. 

Whether you’ve been a fan of mushrooms for years or are intrigued to learn more, you can find fresh, local morel mushrooms near you, especially during the springtime in Michigan. Here we share some interesting findings about these must-have mushrooms and some recipes to get started in the kitchen. 

What is the Morel Mushroom? 

Wild mushrooms come in a variety of colors, shapes and affect on health. The morel has a honeycomb pattern that’s spongy and hollow. You can find them with black, brown and yellow caps. It belongs to the same species as the popular truffle mushroom, although its appearance differs slightly. 

Benefits of Morel Mushrooms 

With such diversity and variance with wild mushrooms like the morel, determining exact nutritional information isn’t as straightforward. However, there are some key similar characteristics among these mushrooms that make them great options to add into your dishes. 

These mushrooms are known to be low in calories and contain a variety of valuable nutrients and vitamins your body needs. Mainly, their high source of vitamin D boosts health in bone growth and metabolism, as well as several other benefits. They also contain minerals like copper, iron, manganese, zinc, phosphorus and calcium. 

Vitamins and minerals like these all stuffed in a low-calorie ingredient can make them both a tasty and healthy option to feature in your mealtime dishes. 

Finding Morel Mushrooms 

Hunting for morel mushrooms can be a fun and adventurous outdoor activity in areas of Michigan. Their popularity comes in their ease of finding and identifying in Michigan forests. While northern Michigan can be a hot spot for mushrooms, you can also find them in southern areas as well. Their season runs from late April until mid-June, with the most popular time being during the month of May. 

These mushrooms are especially abundant in warm and wet conditions, particularly popular in northern Michigan. Boyne City even hosts the National Morel Mushroom Festival to celebrate this local find. 

If you’re considering hunting for your own mushrooms, be very clear and assured that you know what you’re looking for. Find out what they look like and double-check as you continue hunting that you’ve picked the right one. The “false morel” has a similar appearance but their caps are round - and are poisonous. Be extra sure you can correctly identify these mushrooms. 

To help you in your search, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources has put together a helpful map of popular sites as well as other guides and resources to help you hunt and identify with ease. They also share helpful information in collecting and using mushrooms safely. Keep in mind that not all species of mushrooms are created equally. Be especially careful with these mushrooms if you’ve had issues with allergies. 

In addition to Michigan, regions with similar climates that are ideal for growing mushrooms also offer opportunities for mushroom hunting.  

However, you don’t have to go out and search for them yourself in order to enjoy these flavorful mushrooms. You can also find these at the grocery store or at your local farmers’ market. Especially when purchasing from your neighborhood farmers’ market, you can be confident in their freshness and quality.  

Cooking with Morel Mushrooms 

It’s important to cook your mushrooms before enjoying them, as the cooking process can help eliminate substances that can make you sick. They can be sautéed, creamed, stewed or baked. Typically, you’ll want to remove the stems before cooking, as they are tough. However, you may want to save them to be finely chopped and used to flavor soups or other dishes. 

Typically, cleaning your mushrooms involves only wiping them with a paper towel. Washing them brings in excess moisture that can alter the cooking process. If you do need to rinse your mushrooms, be sure to blot them with dry paper towels so that you eliminate any excess moisture. 

6 Recipes to Enjoy Morel Mushrooms 

Especially if you’re new to cooking with mushrooms, finding wholesome and delicious recipes can help you be equipped to welcome in spring with these seasonal favorites. Here we share just a few of our favorite morel mushroom recipes to get started. 

Bisque of Morel Mushrooms and Watercress 

This smooth soup builds upon the bold flavor of the Morel, matching it with a creamy bisque and bright and colorful watercress. 

Chicken with Morel Cream Sauce 

Top off a sautéed chicken breast with a creamy mushroom sauce made with Morels. The zest of the sauce comes from ingredients like wholegrain mustard and 18-year Traditional balsamic vinegar. Those, along with the flavorful Morels make this a great match for chicken. 

Cream of Wild Mushroom Soup 

You’ve probably seen it in a can. But what if you could make this versatile soup from scratch with Morel mushrooms? This rich and flavor-packed soup brings in natural mushroom flavors with a Sage & Wild Mushroom olive oil as well as Tuscan Spices and veggies. This mushroom flavor is elevated even more with a few drops of White Truffle olive oil. With flavors this good, you’ll never want to return to the canned version.  This Cream of Mushroom Soup recipe brings in bright flavors from Herbs de Provence olive oil and is rich in cream. 

Once you’ve made your soup, you can use it in a variety of dishes, including things like Beef Stroganoff or a Green Bean Casserole.  

Pan Roasted Asparagus with Morel Cream Sauce 

Drizzle a creamy mushroom sauce over roasted asparagus for a unique and rich blend of flavors. This recipe also brings in crispy shallots to add a layered texture that’s sure to delight. 

Mushroom and Onion Pizza 

Try roasting these mushrooms and tossing them on a pizza, along with flavorful caramelized onions. The Sage and Wild Mushroom olive oil that’s drizzled on top helps to unify all the pizza toppings into one harmonious bite. 

Orzo with Roasted Vegetables 

Toss in some mushrooms along with other bright and flavorful veggies and mix in with some cooked orzo. This side dish is both healthy and colorful and great to accompany with chicken or fish. 

Discover Michigan Morels 

Whether you’re one to hunt for your own ‘shrooms or pick them up at your local farmers’ market, Morel mushrooms are a flavorful bold addition to a variety of dishes. With their abundance in Michigan, they’re also a local produce to celebrate. Pick up your own mushrooms and get cooking. 

 

 

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