The morel mushroom’s distinctive honeycomb-like appearance makes it easily identifiable in the wild. But it’s not so easy to find them, as they are super fussy about what conditions they grow under – you’re most likely to spot them on spring days between 15 and 25°C, among fallen forest leaves and grasses.
Make sure you do you research first as there are toxic fungi that can be confused with morels, such as Gyromitra esculenta and Verpa bohemica.
Fresh morels are an absolute treasure and can be prepared much the same as other varieties – simply fried well in butter and served on crusty white toast is a culinary wonder (do be aware they can’t be eaten raw as they contain a toxin, which is destroyed by heat).
If finding them fresh seems like a tall order, you’ll be pleased to hear the intensity and character of the morel’s flavour is not lost in the drying process. To use dried morels, reconstitute them in water until tender, rinse to get rid of any remaining grit and then use as you would fresh (hot water works to rehydrate faster but more of the flavour will seep in to the water).
Be sure to put the liquid to good use – when making a mushroom risotto, use it as your stock; use it to make a jus; or, freeze it for later use in soups, stews and gravies. It’s a good idea to strain the liquid through a coffee filter or similar first to be sure there is no grit.