Sooooo- it is apparently Morel season here in Central Pa. I know my Uncle has looked for them for years, I never bothered much attention, but now that I am older- I was curious.. the pictures were flying on facebook of all their basketfuls of mushrooms. I wanted to try them, noone was offering them so I figured, oh well such is life...but- then a Friend sent me a message with an invitation to their farmland to Morel hunt! Brian and I were ecstatic! We were going to get to some of the coveted mushrooms! That for some reason people act like the Davinci Code or the Holy Grail might be at stake if you share or take people with you... mmm yea- I am not like that, which is the main reason I think we got an offer to go to someone's hunting ground in the first place. I was just excited to go hunting and I actually gave a few baggies of them away, seeing those people's eyes light up was well worth it!
And get them we did!
They were huge. And please ignore the fact that for some reason my hand looks like a chubby 9 yr olds, I am tempted to take another picture of my hand now...
So now we had them- what to do with them? other than eat them? and how to eat them? i had no idea.. I started scouring the web looking for ideas. The best idea came from one of Brian's coworkers.. slice in half and saute in butter.
We did and made Mushroom Swiss burgers. Max loved them, so did Pap (my Father-in-Law), my Mother-in-Law didn't try them she "didn't like the looks of them" . Cara and Max both decided they had an almost sweet maple flavor to them. They did taste wonderful on the cheese burgers!
I had read about dehydrating, freezing raw, freezing cooked all of the ways to preserve our harvest. I went with air dehydrating. Most of the sites recommended the air drying and finishing off in a 200 degree oven after a few day of drying to make sure all the moisture was gone. I read a few sites that did not suggest using one of those store brand, or "Ronco" food dehydrators, as they could burn the mushrooms- I was not about to take a risk burning these babies!
So - here is what I did....filled the sink with cold water with a tablespoon or two of salt and washed the mushrooms- we let them soak for about 2 or 3 hours, before we took them out and placed them on kitchen towels and let them dry a little. I knew it was late so I stored them in those Rubbermaid Fresh produce containers until I had time to slice them in half and lay them out to air dry. This was before I read that slicing them before you wash them helps make sure you have no hitchhikers in them (bugs) and helps make the cleaning of them easier.
I cleared the kitchen table (big deal for our household if you have read my previous posts), put clean towels down, then paper towels on top.. and put the mushrooms on them.
I put the ceiling fan on to kind of speed up the drying... in the morning I replaced the paper towels and the towel under it.. since they were pretty damp, from soaking up all the liquid.
This is how they looked after about 2 days. Yes it is a long process.. after most of the mushrooms seemed leathery- I put them on cookie sheets and put the oven on 200, put them in the oven for about an hour, and left the oven door slightly open to circulate air. They came our perfectly dry!
I now have a quart of dried Morels!
Hopefully this winter I will be posting on using my little gems!