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Why would one batch of morels not be as strong as another?

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  • lisak May 19, 2008 04:32 PM

Seems like a silly question, but one that is perplexing to this fungus amateur: Why would one batch of morels be much less potent than another?

Here's the story: My boyfriend and I tried morels for the first time a couple weekends ago...bought them from a local grocer and cooked them using a recipe found in Chez Panisse Vegetables. They were so delicious that the next day we bought another round (from a different grocer this time - it was a Sunday and our favorite grocer was closed) - cooked those up with the same recipe. Again, one of the most delicious mushroom recipes either of us has ever tasted.

Since morel season is fleeting, last weekend we decided to try another batch, same recipe, doubled, but throw it over hand-cut Pappardelle. This batch came out almost flavorless. The morel flavor was there, but only slightly, not pronounced. Also, when cooking, we noticed they didn't smell the same. The dish was a flop.

The conditions of the day were very hot and the morels we picked out seemed to be thicker, less moist. They still had as many worms as the first two rounds.

I'd love to find out your experienced thoughts on why these morels came out tasting so inferior to the first couple batches. Perhaps it was something in the way we cooked them? Although, we did everything the same as the first two times, only doubled.

The sat in a plastic bag for a while. Could that have depleted their extraordinary taste?

Is that just how it is with morels? You take your chances when you buy them?

Any insight would be super. We'd like to buy them again, but are a little leery due to the high price and lack of stellar return on flavor result from this last round.

Thanks!

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  1. There could be any number of reasons. Farmed vs wild, variations in the growth medium, weather conditions, storage conditions, age when harvested, etc.

    1 Reply
    1. re: hannaone

      Ah, that's what I was afraid of...I guess we'll have to bite the bullet (morel) and hope that we get a good batch. thanks.

    2. I am new to morels so I can only say that they recommend that they be able to breathe, so no plastic bags.
      We went out and found ours. We ate two for dinner last night along with some oyster mushrooms. The morels were orgasmic! The oyster mushrooms were good too, but didn't compare. Today we were both lethargic and not feeling 100%. Like a hangover without the head hurting. We drank alcohol before and with our meal. Some say that is not a good idea.
      I don't mean to hijack your thread but have you had this experience?

      1. There are different kinds of morels. And they grow at different times of the season. First round is the black morel. They are more earthy dirt tasting. I dont care for these. Then next comes up the grays. They are the most flavorful of all. Then last comes up the yellows. They are more meaty then the other 2. I have morel hunted since I was a little one and that has been a lonnnnnnngggggg time ago. This year has been the best for them for about 4 years now. We have found so many that we are sick to death of them, but we have to keep hunting them. I have never wasted a morel by cooking it in other ingredients. My only way to eat a morel and get the best flavor out of them is to wash and soak all day in salt water. This gets all the little critters that are hiding out. Then rinse when ready to cook. I then coat them in flour. I fry them in butter only and fry till crisp on both sides. You will have to keep adding butter as you go, but "OH WELL". Then I let drain on paper towel and take bread and lay it down in the butter only on 1 side then I take out of pan and put my mushrooms on the bread and Voila, you have a shroom samich. IF you have any leftovers, in the morning re-fry again in butter to crisp up and put them in scrambled eggs.
        I am curiuos to know how much you are paying for them. They are anywhere from $32.00 to $55.00 a lbs here in Northern Indiana.

        5 Replies
        1. re: thecountryrose

          You seem to know so much about morels.... We picked and had our first ones Sunday. We drink wine and usually have a scotch before dinner. Monday, we both felt hungover and/or lethargic, but without the headache. She had frequent BM, but not cramps or really diarrea while I was OK otherwise. I've read that combining alcohol and morels can be a problem. Any advice? These were grayish. They tasted soooo good!

          1. re: Scargod

            When I first have them in the beginning of the seaon, I have the backdoor trots too. But I just looked it up at
            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Morel
            and it did say that you can get mild poisoning symptoms from morels when consumed with alcohol. The grays are just coming on here in IND and they are the best. Try them fried liked I describd up above. And omit the scotch & wine. I personnally would stop drinking just to eat morels.

          2. re: thecountryrose

            Good info, thecountryrose! I'm in N. California, SF Bay Area, and have seen morel prices at $26.99, $39.99, and $49.99...I can't imagine getting sick of morels. :)

            1. re: lisak

              oh yea, that is what I thought to, but when you find 5 lbs in a day, you kinda get sick of them. One of my sons found 11 lbs one day. We have been finding them early this year. I honestly didnt think morels grew out there in CA. My hubby is a truck driver and he hasnt seen any in the stores out there. But he is in LA and Malibu area.

              1. re: thecountryrose

                11 Pounds! Holy moley. I've read you can find them throughout N. CA and Oregon. We have to go to our local, specialty grocery to get them here. I haven't seen them at the farmers market.

          3. You might not be getting the same species, either. There are lots of kinds of morels. Some aren't as good for eating.

            If you slowly acclimate to them, you may find the gut thing mellows out. You can just plain react to mushrooms and my guide books all say to NOT pig out on them early on, if it's a new food for you, even if they are considered a completely edible variety. But it could also be the alcohol. Alcohol and morels has never bothered me, but I've read that it can really stink.