The Best Way To Store Morel Mushrooms So They Stay Fresh

Morels are one of the most prized types of mushrooms, beloved by foragers and cooks alike for their robust flavor and firm texture. While dried morels are available throughout the year, fresh ones are only in season during the spring, and can be expensive. Because of this, the last thing you want is to store these mushrooms improperly and have a prized batch spoil in the fridge.

Fortunately, there are a few easy tips to keep your fungi fresh for as long as possible. First, morels should be kept in a ventilated container in the refrigerator. Like many mushrooms, they are high in moisture and easily absorb liquid. If left in an airtight container, condensation and moisture can build up, waterlogging the mushrooms and making them slimy.

A paper bag works well for this task, as it lets the mushrooms breathe, while its material helps wick away excess liquid. You can also store them in a bowl with a paper towel on top. However you choose to store them, the best way to maximize freshness is to use them as quickly as possible. They'll stay good for at most five days; the sooner you eat them, the better.

Cleaning morels for maximum freshness

Morels are essentially miniature sponges covered with pores that grow in the wild. This means that they trap more dirt and debris than other types of mushrooms. Cleaning them involves getting this gunk out while ensuring the morels are dried thoroughly afterward.

Before they hit the water, start by shaking the morels in a colander. This dislodges some dirt, and reduces the time needed to soak or wash the fungi. If the morels are relatively clean after this step, you can rinse them in the colander until any remaining debris is removed. If they're still quite dirty, briefly soak the mushrooms in a bowl of water and agitate them until all of the residue has been dislodged.

Keep in mind that small bugs can hide in the hollow interiors of morels, so slice them open to check for this. If you want to cook the morels whole, add a generous amount of salt to the soaking water, which will draw the bugs out. After cleaning, dry the mushrooms thoroughly. You can do this between kitchen towels or in a salad spinner. Either way, treat the morels carefully during this process so they don't get bruised or broken apart.

Dry or dehydrate morels for long-term storage

If you're left with a pile of morels that you can't cook before they spoil, you can still preserve them by dehydrating or drying. Dehydrating is an effective method to concentrate an ingredient's flavor (you might already be dehydrating fresh tomatoes for long-lasting flavor bombs). Doing this is easy, but the only catch is that you need a specialized food dehydrator. Keep your device's temperature at 110 degrees Fahrenheit and let the morels dry in an even layer for 10 hours.

Morels can also be dried using just your oven, much like making homemade beef jerky. Set your oven to a very low temperature of 120-140 degrees Fahrenheit, place the mushrooms on a sheet pan, and let them dry for eight to 12 hours. You can dry multiple sheet pans of morels at once, but make sure the trays aren't crowded and the mushrooms aren't touching each other. While drying, move the pans to different oven racks every hour or two to vary the airflow. Dehydrated or oven-dried morels should last for up to six months, and can be reconstituted by soaking in warm water until hydrated.