Morel Mushrooms are a favorite among cooks because of their strong earthy, nearly nutty flavor profile. They belong to a species of mushrooms that file under the truffle variety, but their appearance is clearly quite different. Morel Mushrooms range from dark brown to tan, they’re elongated, two to four inches long and have a cute cone-shaped cap. The fruit body is covered in a texture that resembles a honeycomb. Wild Morels can be found in the few short months April through June, dependent upon the region. They are available in numerous types which includes black, golden, as well as white. Morels are a little conical sponge and there fore are entirely empty on the inside. They are best found and consumed fresh in the spring and dried through the remainder of the year.
Morels are a rich source of Vitamin D, Iron, Phosphorous, antioxidants and B Vitamins.
As with most wild mushrooms, since they grow out of the soil they are porous enough to absorb this potent vitamin. Morels, however, are found to be one of the highest vitamin D containing mushroom varieties according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Vitamin D can be hard to come by in plant-based eating, but it is present in mushrooms. Vitamin D is mandatory for proper Calcium absorption and usage in the body. It helps to regulate blood pressure and stimulates messengers cells in the immune system. (One cup of morels supplies the body, on average, 22% of your daily quota).
Iron is a key nutrient for the body to add in oxygen flow throughout our entire body system. Several enzymes rely on iron to complete their biochemical processes. It is needed for some antioxidants, the production of material essential for growth and healing and the creation of energy (this is why when you’re low in iron you may feel fatigued). Neurotransmitter function rely heavily on the adequate amount of iron to maintain a positive mood. Therefore the lack of iron leads to poor sleep, energy, mood and could ultimately lead to anemia. One cup of morels supplies women 44% of their daily quota and men 100% of their daily quota (on average).
Vitamin B1-Thiamine is an important vitamin since it helps the body to break down sugar and use it as fuel within the body. It is also supportive of both heart and nerve health.
Vitamin B2- Vital for the production of red blood cells and steroid hormone synthesis. It helps to transport oxygen in the body and also mobilizes iron.
Vitamin B3-In the form of niacinamide helps to clear acne when applied topically to the skin. Niacin also reduces the numbers of flare ups, skin inflammation, redness and irritation. It also helps to improve cardiovascular and heart health.
Vitamin B6- Helps the immune system to function optimally. It aides in the breakdown of carbohydrates, fats and amino acids while maintaining healthy lymph node function. Vitamin B6 also helps to stabilize blood sugar levels.
Vitamin B9- Folate helps to strengthen and maintain healthy liver function. Folate is also essential for women who are pregnant or may become pregnant.
Vitamin B12- Folic Acid helps to preserve our neurological function and DNA synthesis. It plays a key role in the health of red blood cells and helps our nervous system work optimally as well.
Where to find them
Wild Morels can be a bit of a gold mine in terms of finding them in a market near you, as they have a short harvesting season (several months in the spring) and are difficult to cultivate commercially-making them all the more exotic when you do get to give these mushrooms a taste. You may find it easier to find dried morels in specialty stores throughout the year. As with most mushrooms make sure the flesh is firm to the touch and absent of rot, damage and pests.
They can be stored in the refrigeration for up to one week, in a sealed bag if possible. When prepping these mushrooms do not wash them, as they are quite porous and will become a soggy, waterlogged mess. Rather wipe them gently with a damp paper towel or use a pastry brush to wipe away dirt. Clean just prior to cooking, any sooner and the mushrooms will retain the water and become slimy.
Adding mushrooms to your diet is simple as they can be incorporated or become the star to any dish. When cooked the nutrient content in the mushroom remains the same for this particular mushroom, while some nutrients lose between 5 and 20 percent of their value.