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May 20, 2003 12:18 AM

Little white worms in my morels

  • b

I brought some seemingly beautiful morels home from a very reputable market, only to discover they were inhabited by DOZENS of little white worms (tiny ones!) that appeared to be happily nesting inside the nooks and crannies of the morels, as well as in the "flesh". I've never had this problem with morels before, including the year+ that I worked prep in a restaurant where morels were often on the menu. (It's only now that I wonder how the heck we had morels ALL the time at that place.) Anyway, in an attempt to de-worm, I put the morels in a bowl, then poured boiling water over them. This helped evict the worms, though some of the morels were still infested--and I felt like I was torturing the morels in the process. I'm wondering if this is actually a common problem with morels that I managed to avoid (or was simply oblivious to??) all these years. I'm also wondering if there is a better technique for de-worming morels should I encounter this rather icky situation again in the future. If nothing else, I'll definitely be inspecting them more closely at the market from now on!

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  1. A chef friend told me that soaking them in salt water for a while helps....


    5 Replies
    1. re: GEM

      Heavily salted water-- salty enough to taste.

      This trick also works with broccoli & cauliflower fresh from the farm, although the cauliflower should probably be broken into pieces, since the worms tend to get stuck.

      1. re: Erika

        This works for any veggie. I do it to virtually everything I harvest from my garden, since I grow organically (without use of pesticides). Some things, for instance, heads of cabbage, can be so infested (without it being apparent on a casual inspection) that you just have to throw it out.

        1. re: hermitt4d

          I am a mushroom hunter, and yes, most wild mushrooms serve as homes for all kinds of critters.

          I usually cut my morels in half, wash them well, and then poor very hot water over them. I don't think I have ever seen worms in morels, but they are often absolutely FULL of little grey critters called springtails, and the hot water kills em.

          Oyster mushrooms are frequently full of white worms which are the larval stage of a black beetle. The beetles are easy to see and remove, the worms a little more difficult--rinsing with a hard stream of water works pretty well, but you really have to separate each individual gill. If you miss one or two, they won't kill you--they taste like mushroom. If the mushroom is really infested and the worms have eaten a lot of the flesh, pitch it--it will taste like worm poop.

          Broccoli and cauliflower--use bT, bacillus thuringensis, aka Dipel or Thuricide. It is a bacteria that kills caterpillars, quite organic. Works on corn earworms too, I think.

          1. re: sparrowgrass

            Curious about BT and more than a little hesitant to see anyone putting even a "organic" insecticide on their food before preparation for cooking I did a little web search and came up with the link below. The way in which the insecticidal bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis works (the worms/larvae ingest it and it is activated in their gut) it would seem that you have to apply it some time before wanting to use the food item for cooking.



      2. re: GEM

        this was recommended to me as well. I've on accasion found a few tiny white worms and this works. Before I ever started eating morels I was warned that the little nooks and crannies are likely to support bug life, so I guess this isn't very shocking to me. I mean what do you expect - they are harvested wild in the woods where lil buggies are destined to find a perfect little home in them.

      3. g

        So wait, can somebody clarify something? Should I *expect* to find these worms if I buy morels? And are these cleansing methods just for killing or are the worms somehow removed? Ick!

        1. As a tourist in Florence, I was told by the waiter that worms crawling on my mushroom bruschetta was normal....was he pulling my leg??? I couldn't make myself eat them.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Mari

            well not for nuttin', but don't the provincial italians eat some kind of weird cheese that's maggot infested?

          2. Hold on to your stomachs folks because the worms in those morels were maggots! Here's the deal. Morels are wild mushrooms; wild as in growing in the woods....the same woods where squirrels poop freely where ever they choose, and all sorts of insects live happily without fear of a can of Raid. Flies really like laying eggs on morels because the maggots have a mushroom breakfast when they hatch. So if you're still interested in eating morels, as soon as you get them home they can go into the freezer for a couple of hours or you can cook them right away. This will kill the worms. The maggots have no taste or texture when they're that small and they're not carrying any dreaded disease unlike flies because they can't buzz around yet.

            As for that bruschetta with worms....HOGWASH! Never eat wild mushrooms that have not been cooked.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Cynical Chef

              I think the rule about eating "field" gathered wild mushrooms is not to do it unless you have a compatible liver donor standing by. ;-D

            2. hmmm. i've just assumed the worms will die when I cook the mushrooms (you don't eat morels raw anyway). I've found the same worms in fresh porcini, and in cabbage and other veggies bought straight from the farm. unless i'm eating them raw. I just kind of ignore them. Is that a bad thing?