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Jcolvin

Morels - caution required

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I'm sure most people know this, but since it is morel season, just in case:

1) Fresh, raw morels are POISONOUS. They MUST be cooked, and cooked well.

2) They should be cooked at a fairly high heat; ie. saute or fry them till slightly caramelized. A quick simmer may not get rid of their toxins. If you blanch fresh morels, do no use the cooking liquid in stock. If you are going to make a sauce with fresh morels, it is best to fry them first and then put them in the sauce.

3) Some people are more sensitive to morels than others. For instance a sauce made with lots of morels may be fine for some people, but give other people intense gastrointestinal distress (even with dried morels). This is ESPECIALLY SO if served with alcohol. It is not recommended to serve morels with alcohol, whether they are fresh or dried, or to consume large quantities of them.

http://www.morelmushroom.info/Cooking_Precautions.html

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Did not know that! We always went morel hunting in the woods in the northwest when I was a kid (my dad knew all the favorite spots) -- I actually didn't know there were other kinds of mushrooms until I was older. Wonderful memories of the big black iron skillet filled with morels stewed in butter.

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Then I guess I'm screwed, because I've eaten fresh, uncooked morels. :laugh:

Although probably not in the same quantity that would knock me dead as say, an amanita.

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Some people are more sensitive to morels than others. For instance a sauce made with lots of morels may be fine for some people, but give other people intense gastrointestinal distress (even with dried morels). This is ESPECIALLY SO if served with alcohol. It is not recommended to serve morels with alcohol, whether they are fresh or dried, or to consume large quantities of them.

http://www.morelmushroom.info/Cooking_Precautions.html

Please be accurate when you post such information. The linked web site says, "don’t consume any alcohol with your very first ingestion of morels, especially black morels" and "Abstain or restrain in consuming any kind of alcohol in conjunction with eating mushrooms" [emphasis mine]. The reason is, "if you are allergic, this can seriously worsen the reaction." For how much to consume, it says, "Be moderate," but doesn't specify how much is meant by "moderate."

For those of us who are not allergic or sensitive to morels, this is not an issue. I know I'm just an N of 1, but I've eaten probably 6 oz. of (cooked) morels and half a bottle of Pinot Noir at a meal, with no subsequent discomfort.


Edited by Alex (log)

Gene Weingarten, writing in the Washington Post about online news stories and the accompanying readers' comments: "I basically like 'comments,' though they can seem a little jarring: spit-flecked rants that are appended to a product that at least tries for a measure of objectivity and dignity. It's as though when you order a sirloin steak, it comes with a side of maggots."

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Yesterday, I noticed this mushroom in the front yard. There are three in a little group. I've not picked one to split it yet to see if it's hollow. I've been trying to read on how to identify, but beyond the hollowness, I've not seen other tips. I've done other foraging, but never mushrooms, so I'm pretty hesitant. Is there a process one usually goes through to confirm what a mushroom is?mushrm.jpg

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That is a perfectly beautiful morel--no mistake. Pick them quick, before someone else grabs them!!


sparrowgrass

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Yes, with 100% certainty, that is a morel.

I will say that I know from personal experience that some people have a terrible reaction to morels and alchohol. The first time I cooked them for my husband, he ignored my warnings and went ahead with his Maker's Mark and water, then about 90 minutes later had my pasta dish with morels in it, then 20 minutes later was vomiting so hard that he burst a bunch of blood vessels in his eyelids. He has since eaten morels without alcohol without incident, so it wasn't a reaction to the mushrooms. I myself have had small amounts of wine with morels many times and never had a problem, so it does seem to be an individual reaction.

Edit: to answer your question, cookingofjoy, about a process to confirm what a mushroom is, David Arora has written the two most popular books among mushroom hunters (at least in my part of the world), Mushrooms Demystified and All That the Rain Promises and More. But with morels, pretty much once you've had someone tell you that yeah, that's a morel, you'll never be confused again. There is a type of mushroom that looks sort of similar, more like a brain instead of a honeycomb, but it would be pretty hard to think it was a morel if you've ever actually had a morel.


Edited by Dianabanana (log)

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Morels are easy--no other mushroom has that definite honeycomb type top. There are some false morels, but if you google pictures of them, they are just wrinkly, not honeycombed.

For other mushrooms there are steps you can take to identify them--some involve scratching the mushroom to see if it stains, using certain chemicals on the spores or making a spore print.

Spore prints are neat--find a big mushroom that is fully open. Lay it on a piece of paper, gills down, and leave it overnight. Pick it up carefully, and you will have almost a photographic image of the gills on the bottom of the mushroom. The spores (like seeds) are a fine dust, and can be various colors.

I have 5 or 6 mushrooms books, full of pictures and drawings, and I collect several kinds of mushrooms for the table. I am really, really careful when I collect an unknown species--I look it up in all the books, I do a spore print and, sometimes, even when I am 99% sure--I throw it away.

I am self-taught, but I have a strong background in botany. For the average amateur, I would suggest a class.


sparrowgrass

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Thank you! I appreciate your confidence :) I'll have to look for those titles. In looking online the examples for ones that could be confused really did look pretty different. The steps in identification are really interesting, especially the spore print. Thanks, again! Time to go browse some recipes!

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After eating those babies.. Blow that picture up and have it framed!!

Three mushrooms will only get you Jonesin for more!! :cool: Cookin


Its good to have Morels

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I'm sure most people know this, but since it is morel season, just in case:

1) Fresh, raw morels are POISONOUS. They MUST be cooked, and cooked well.

2) They should be cooked at a fairly high heat; ie. saute or fry them till slightly caramelized. A quick simmer may not get rid of their toxins.

http://www.morelmushroom.info/Cooking_Precautions.html

The article discusses ALLERGY reactions to mushrooms.

  • "Some people are allergic to mushrooms that are safe to eat; if this is your first time eating morels, eat only a small amount and wait 24 hours before consuming more. This may prove quite difficult, as morels are quite delicious! Also, don’t consume any alcohol with your very first ingestion of morels, especially black morels; if you are allergic, this can seriously worsen the reaction. A reaction involving ingesting alcohol with morels “. . .begins with flushing of the neck and face, rapid heart beat, tingling in the extremities, and a metallic taste in the mouth and only later involves nausea, and vomiting.”

By these standard, most other foods are also poisonous and contain toxins.

Tim

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tim, I think your post and mine clarified things sufficiently. I believe Jcolvin's post was well intentioned but wasn't quite clear and specific enough.

In further news on the mushroom front, two pounds of fresh black morels arrived yesterday from my supplier in Northern Michigan. (My yard is morel-less, alas.) Last night: mixed green salad with fresh mozzarella followed by boneless chicken breast with sauteed morels in a marsala cream sauce (and half a bottle of wine). Tonight: slowly scrambled eggs with morels, tarragon, and chives, accompanied by roasted redskins and pan-cooked asparagus with shallots and bacon (and a glass of wine). Everything except the marsala, shallots, and wine (and possibly the redskins) are Michigan products. Tomorrow: ?


Gene Weingarten, writing in the Washington Post about online news stories and the accompanying readers' comments: "I basically like 'comments,' though they can seem a little jarring: spit-flecked rants that are appended to a product that at least tries for a measure of objectivity and dignity. It's as though when you order a sirloin steak, it comes with a side of maggots."

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I don't believe it has anything to do with "allergies". The reaction to morels involves toxins in the morels, to which some people are more sensitive than others (ie not allergies). Some people use the word "allergic to" synonymously to "had a bad reaction to". The caution about eating morels with alcohol stands, since the reaction is unpredictable; I know people who have eaten morels with alcohol many times, and then one day, for whatever reason, spend a night doubled over in pain after drinking a glass of red wine with their morel supper. Possibly the amount of toxins or people's reactions vary, but there is little research on it. That article linked to is only one reference...a more common reaction to mixing morels and alcohol is just gastrointestinal distress (ie stomach cramps).

Fresh morels are indisputably poisonous, which has nothing to do with allergies. Here in Vancouver a number of years ago a wedding caterer threw a bunch of fresh morels into a salad, resulting in a trip to emergency for most of the wedding party with severe gastrointestinal distress.


Edited by Jcolvin (log)

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I'm still gazing longingly over that picture.............."sigh".


Brenda

I whistfully mentioned how I missed sushi. Truly horrified, she told me "you city folk eat the strangest things!", and offered me a freshly fried chitterling!

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@ Tim and Alex: http://www.dphhs.mt.gov/PHSD/Food-consumer/documents/WildMushroomFacts.pdf

"Uncooked edible morels also contain small amount of this toxin (MMH)but it is driven off in the process of cooking. MMH may cause cancer"

http://www.madaboutmushrooms.com/mad_about_mushrooms/our_hit_parade/

"Remember, like all wild fungi, morels should be cooked thoroughly. Morels, in particular, must never be served raw. Raw morels contain toxins that will sicken almost everyone. Thorough cooking rids them of these toxins and makes them perfectly safe for almost everybody. Even then, be aware that some individuals seem to have a bad reaction to morels, although the reaction may be due to a combination of morels and alcoholic beverages. So, consume only small quantities and not over consecutive days until you are comfortable with the fungus."

So, yes raw morels contain poisonous (and carcinogenic) hydrazines, but in much smaller quantity than the (deadly poisonous) false morels. Cooking and/or drying morels (both false and true) reduces the amount of MMH in the mushrooms (although does not completely remove it...http://www.springerlink.com/conten/p247755354n11412/ "After drying in the open air at room temperature for 3 months, as much as 30%-71 % of MMH remained in the fungus.")

MMH is alcohol-soluble and drinking alcohol along with morels (which will still contain small amounts of MMH) helps the MMH get into the bloodstream. Some people are more sensitive to the toxin than others (no it's not an allergy) and because the MMH content of morels varies widely it is quite unpredictable what amount of morels and alcohol will cause sickness. Thus it is not recommended to eat large amounts of morels with alcohol, whether you've done it before without harm or not; although you may judge that the pleasure of glass of wine with your morel supper outweighs the small chance that you will have an unpleasant night afterwards.

Personally I can eat a plate of well- sauteed morels and have a glass of wine without issues, but once was made violently ill when I ate a risotto at a high-end restaurant containing a generous quantity of very lightly cooked morels (they had only been briefly parboiled before being added to the risotto) along with a glass of Riesling. The restaurant owner was not aware of the risk of serving undercooked morels.

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