The Proper Way To Store Fresh Morel Mushrooms

Morel mushrooms are magnificent — then again, so are many other fungi. However, there are a few things that make these particular mushrooms so unique, such as their aesthetic cone-shaped cap, ultra meaty texture, and intensely nutty profile. That said, morels still behave much like any other freshly picked mushroom, which means that they can spoil relatively quickly. As a result, knowing how to properly store fresh morels is a must in order to keep them at their prime for as long as possible.

There's no way to correctly store an already rotten morel, so be sure to seek out healthy-looking mushrooms. Firm morels with some give and a delicately woodsy perfume indicate optimal freshness, guaranteeing a longer lifespan when stored properly. Speaking of which, just-picked morels should be kept in the fridge, and preferably, away from any aromatics. To prolong quality, loosely wrap them in a moist paper towel before storing them in a container that encourages airflow. Paper or cloth bags work best, as they let mushrooms breathe and can even absorb any excess moisture. But, what about cleaning them?

Although you might be tempted to give the dirt-covered caps a deep clean before storing, it's important that you don't. While we won't deny that there can be copious amounts of dirt and bugs lurking within the morels' honeycomb-like crevices, damp mushrooms will spoil faster regardless of how well they're stored. Instead, only give them a good soak in cool, salted water once they're ready to be used.

How to keep freshly picked morels for even longer

Freshly harvested morels can last for about a week when correct storage practices are followed. Fortunately, this grants you enough time to transform bundles of fungi into an array of delicious dishes from an earthy asparagus risotto to mushrooms on toast or any other morel-laden recipe. If, however, you happen to forage more mushrooms than you know what to do with, there are ways to keep fresh morels in tip-top shape for longer.

After cleaning and drying the mushrooms, the simplest way to extend their lifespan by months is to freeze them. Despite that quality will be somewhat impacted, sauteing the fungi beforehand can reduce textural changes once mushrooms are thawed — note that frozen morels can also be tossed directly into a recipe, if you don't mind extra liquid. Alternatively, drying morel mushrooms is another option. As long as they're dehydrated to a crisp and stored in a zip-top bag somewhere dark, dry, and cool, the mushrooms can keep for a year.

Even with your best attempts at preservation, morel mushrooms won't last forever. Should you notice changes such as discoloration, slimy textures, or pungent odors, this can indicate that morels have started to spoil. Additionally, the presence of mold on the stem or cap can also signal that it's time to reach for the compost bin and start the process of foraging once more — whether you do that in the wild or at your local market is up to you!