There's More Than One Way To Store Fresh Morels

In the spring, spongey, brown morels stick up their heads amongst ferns and other fauna — ready to be snagged by chefs, foragers, and foodies alike. Officially called Morchella, these honeycombed fungi can be found all over North America and overseas in countries like Turkey, Pakistan, and China. Morels are somehow more special than the common button mushroom and other various fungi, and they're stockpiled by restaurants and worked into all manner of dishes where their earthy flavor can shine.


Morels are soft and delicate, demanding to be carried gently before being prepped and cooked. And if you're grabbing your own beautiful morels during the short season they're available or if you're heading to the nearest farmers' market to try and score a few, you'll need to know how to store them so as to get the best bang for your buck (these fungi aren't cheap). From the refrigerator to the countertop, here are the best ways to keep your morels fresh before you can add them to your favorite recipes.

Placing morels in the refrigerator

The go-to method for storing your fresh morels is in the refrigerator. If you're going to put your morels in the fridge, you'll ideally want a temperature between 32 and 36 degrees Fahrenheit and a high humidity level of around 95%. Place your morels in something breathable — a paper bag or a container covered with a damp cloth will work well here — then put them in the fridge. As a result, your mushrooms should last for about five days. 


Be warned — a plastic bag or closed container is an invitation for moisture, too much of which will quickly rot your morels, causing mold and mushiness. Just remember, you can use a container so long as it's open or has holes so your morels can breath. As a note, you'll want to clean your mushrooms beforehand by gently brushing off any dirt or debris and using a damp sponge to get rid of any lingering muck. As with any fungi you cook with, don't rinse them or soak them in water, as they can absorb too much and become mushy.

Freezing your morels

If you're not ready to use your morels just yet, storing them in the freezer is also a viable option. But simply washing and chucking your hard-earned morels into the frozen abyss isn't the go-to mode of operation here. Any mushroom, when simply placed in the freezer sans prep, will become an overly wet sponge once it's thawed. To prepare your morels for freezer storage, clean them and remove any dirt and muck, then cut them up into bite-size pieces. Get a baking sheet and spread the morel pieces on it, then freeze for about 30 minutes. 


Next, remove from the freezer, add into a freezer bag or freeze-safe container, and now you can keep these little guys safe for 12 months. When you're ready to use your morels, thaw them in the refrigerator before adding to any of your favorite morel recipes — from creamy pastas to toasts. This method will keep the morels from clumping together and will keep the threat of too-much-moisture at bay.

Drying your morels

You've likely seen dried morels in the produce section of your local grocery store, and being able to dry your own morels is an easy way to store them for use all year long and to create a powerful mushroomy flavor for culinary enjoyment. Just be sure to follow instructions for rehydration and saving that mushroom "broth" you'll be left with. 


To dry your morels, clean them as you would before any other storage method. Slice or chop them into smaller pieces, then spread them on a baking sheet and place in a dehydrator or in an oven on the lowest temperature setting (likely around 200 or 250 degrees). The process can take as long as 12 hours, but keep going until the morels look dried out and "crisp" — lacking any moisture. Place in a container and then store your mushrooms in a cool, dry place.