The first mushrooms to appear in the spring, morels are in season from late March through June. Hollow from stem to crown, instead of a cap they have rippled, honeycomb-shaped spores throughout. They grow wild in many areas of the United States, though they’re foraged most extensively in the Midwest and in the Appalachians. The delightful fungi have a meaty, earthy flavor and an intoxicating woodsy aroma; they’re wonderful simmered or stewed and taste great with other spring vegetables. Keep in mind: Morels contain trace amount of toxins that can only be removed through cooking, so never eat them raw.
HOW TO BUY
Look for fresh, plump mushrooms with cut ends that aren’t too dried out. Avoid bruised or softening morels, since they tend to rot quickly.
HOW TO STORE
Remove any crushed or rotting morels and store the rest in a paper bag in the fridge.
HOW TO PREPARE
Don’t clean morels until you’re ready to use them. Shake off any excess dirt, and wash them in cold running water. Use paper towels to blot dry.