From the Morchellaceae family, the morel (Morchella) is a spring mushroom, which is one of the most coveted for its taste both very particular and very fine. A little bit like truffle, it is one of the mushrooms of prestige, probably also because of its capricious character concerning his appearances!
How to find and recognize morels?
Morels are picked from March to May, they usually announce the arrival of spring. A thermal shock between a very cold winter followed by a warming with rain, is conducive to the appearance of morels. They can be collected in all regions but Franche-Comté, the Vosges or Jura are well endowed.
They can be rare and are not always faithful to the same places to push what complicates a bit the search for "wedges with morels". Their favorite biotope is like a basic soil, a cool and wet place under ash trees (Fraxinus excelsior) more particularly, but also apple trees, birch trees, privet trees, hazelnuts... They can also grow on rotten apples, stirred or burned floors, various debris of house containing lime or plaster, at the edge of streams and rivers, in your garden or your orchard, in the vineyards, in the wasteland...
The morels have a dark and then lighter hat, formed of irregular alveoli, which measures 4 to 10 cm high, a whitish foot which reaches 5 to 10 cm for a width of 2 to 3 cm. This makes it a large mushroom in general. His flesh exhales a slight fruity odor. There are different varieties:
- common morel (Morchella esculenta): in the oblong hat,
- delicious morel (Morchella deliciosa): with a fine, short foot and a conical hat,
- conical morel (Morchella conica): hat really conical, almost pointed,
- round morel (Morchella rotunda): with ovoid hat to round,
- high morel (Morchella elata): elongated hat longer than the foot.
What mushrooms can look like morels?
As with all mushrooms, if in doubt, have your pick-up checked by a mycologist pharmacist, but morels are still very characteristic with their brown to greyish-colored buds.
The only mushroom (pictured above) with which one should not confuse the morel, whatever it is, is the gyromiter (Gyromitra esculenta) whose ingestion can be fatal. Its reddish brown or yellowish brown hat is formed of coarse lobes resembling a brain, which is nevertheless very different from the cells of morels soldered together. In addition, his flesh is odorless.
How to cook morels?
Never eat raw morels. Morels are eaten only cooked because they contain a toxic substance, hemolysin, which disappear during cooking: they are said to be "thermolabile". Once the ground foot is cut, you will need to quickly pass under the tap to clean the cells, then dry in a towel or paper towel, before cooking them stewed in butter, at least 15 minutes for the toxin to disappear.
The morel can be cooked in pan-fried, velvety or with scrambled eggs but also it can accompany dishes in sauce some of which are renowned: rooster with yellow wine and morels, sweetbreads with morels...