Monday, September 13, 2010


Morels are an edible fungus found in Europe, China and Japan, Australia and America. They are exotic, difficult to cultivate and very expensive. You are unlikely to ever find them in Australia, except at a mushroom specialty shop, unless an experienced 'hunter' takes you to the right areas and even then you might need a bit of luck. We struck it lucky when Neil Murray, of At My Table fame, , took us out to some of his favourite spots.
Morels are rarely more than 5 to 10 cm tall they stand like little sentinels in scattered groups. They have a honeycombed conical cap, which is hollow as is their stem. We never saw more than about half a dozen in one area often had to search 100 metres or more to find another

and then it might only be one or two. There are half a dozen in this photo. Evidently they contain a small amount of a poisonous acid which is destroyed by cooking.
They share the forest floor with an immense variety of other funghi,
probably edible, but I'm not adventurous enough to test this,
or this.
A little mossas well as lots of little flowering plants.

According to Davidson's Oxford Companion to Food many edible funghi are near tasteless, not morels though, and also have little nutritional value. Wild varieties of mushrooms, generally, are much tastier than cultivated ones. He names seven varieties of morels and notes their great popularity in USA where there are morel festivals, notably in Boyne, Michigan in Spring.
They can be frozen or dried and keep well.
For those fortunate to get hold of half a kilo of morels they make an excellent sauce for pasta when fried up with onion, garlic and a little wine, seasoned and mixed with cream before serving.
They are also extremely pleasing halved and deep fried in batter.

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