Wednesday, April 7, 2010


I really enjoy mushrooms, but the fact that many of them live off of either decaying plants or dung makes me think twice. These creatures of decay are still dear to me, but I am definitely aware of how they are harvested or cultivated.  It gets a little tricky when you consider that different members of the fungus family grow differently, and therefore require their own unique handling concerns.
Morels are particularly difficult to clean because of the structure of their cap. Cutting and then soaking them in water is the only way to really get them clean. I decided to see what the effect of washing would be on these morels. I did three different trials: the first was just cut in half and brushed(no water), the second I cut, washed, and let dry for 3 hours on a cloth in the fridge, the last I cut, washed, and cook immediately.

Morels are great stewed or cooked in a liquid, but I figured I would sauté them and then lightly glaze with butter and excess pickled shallot liquid(just enough to prevent the butter from breaking and impart some flavor). I think cooking them this way gives the greatest chance of showing any differences in the cleaning process. I was also sure not to overcrowd the pan and get just a little bit of browning while sautéing(early signs of browning would be the stopping point for all of the trials).

Keep in mind I didn't just rinse the mushrooms quickly under water, I soaked them in water and let them sit. I then stirred them, changed the water, and did the same thing again, for a total of three times.
For pictures and comments on the cleaning process and pommes anna check out my picasa page here.
The results:
The brushed morels were gritty. However, they browned the fastest, about 50-60 seconds faster than the washed and dried and 110-120 seconds faster than the freshly washed. The freshly washed morels had exactly the same end texture as the washed and then dried mushrooms, but again, they took the longest to color. All of the mushroom had the same texture after cooking (although ignoring the grit to determine this was difficult with the unwashed). It seems to me that washing and then letting the mushrooms sit overnight, or a few hours, in the fridge is the best method, but washing and cooking immediately is just about as good.

So... plate it up!
Shallot glazed morels over crispy katahdin potato pancake

Thats how I would write it if I was avoiding using French terms, not that I don't like the French.

As you wish,


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