How to Dry Morel Mushrooms

It’s one thing to have enough morels for a meal or two – it’s quite another to have more than you can consume in a day or two.

The options are cook them and freeze them or dry them. I have not tried dusting them with flour and freezing them, but I heard it has been tried.

Here is how I dry my morels:

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Select the freshest mushrooms. They should be firm and clean. If the mushrooms become squishy during the drying process, remove them. Mushrooms should feel light and firm as they dry.

I used an embroidery needle and dental floss to tie each mushroom to the oven rack so they are not touching. I set my oven at 200 degrees and left the door open a couple of inches.

Make sure the jar you plan to store them in seals tight. Mason jars are useful for this.

This process will probably take 8 hours or so. It is critical to dry the morels thoroughly. Every once in a while I shut the oven door for a minute or two. Then I open the door and inhale deeply.  That’s not an essential part of the process.

As the mushrooms dry, the room fills with their aroma. I find that very comforting.

This is what the mushrooms look like when they are drying:

Initial set up:

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After three hours:

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At this point I switch the racks to ensure the mushrooms dry evenly.

Finally dry after 8 hours:

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You’ll know the mushrooms are thoroughly dry when they are light as a feather and rock hard. This batch could have been pulled out of the oven an hour earlier, but I fell asleep. Still, I know they’re completely dry.

Once the mushrooms are bone dry – put the Mason jar inside the oven,  shut the door, turn off the oven and wait for 1-2 minutes.

You want to be really sure there is no moisture in the jar or the mushrooms once they are sealed. Mold will form if there is a trace of dampness and destroy all your work.

This batch only filled half of a one-quart Mason jar.

Here are the mushrooms I dried last year.

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Once I capped the jar, I put it at the back of the darkest cabinet shelf in my kitchen behind a box of corn starch. Even when I open that cabinet door no light can reach the mushrooms.

These mushrooms will keep for years.

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    22 Comments

    1. Sandy May 10, 2009 at 6:49 PM #

      Hi, I just finished collecting my first ever batch of morrels around my new woodland home. Almost 2 lbs. My oven has a dehydrate function, so I was thinking of just laying them out on the rack. I’m worried about drying them enough, but not too much. Are there any problems associated with “over-drying?” Nice pics on your website by the way. thanks!

    2. JJ Murphy
      JJ Murphy May 10, 2009 at 7:40 PM #

      Congratulations Sandy. What a wonderful welcome to your new home. What part of the US do you live in?

      Thanks for your comments on my photos.

      Since your oven has a dehydrate function, I would think that you’re at less risk of burning them to a crisp than you would be if you were drying them in an oven at low heat. With two pounds of morels, you have an opportunity to experiment.

      The most important thing is to ensure that each mushroom dries completely. The mushrooms should not be touching each other. You may have to turn them if you are laying them down on a rack instead of hanging them.

      If you leave a few to dry a little longer, you’ll be able to see what happens. A few of the morels I dried seemed very dark and brittle. I’m not sure how they will taste.

      I’d love to hear just how your dehydrating efforts turn out. Please keep me informed.

    3. Bill Heckart May 13, 2009 at 10:00 PM #

      OK, you dried them but have you tried re-hydrating them and frying them? Does it work? I tried freezing them once and when they thawed out they were a lot like, well.. snot. We washed them, dried them and put them between layers of paper towels and froze them. Needless to say we threw them out but what a waste.

    4. JJ Murphy
      JJ Murphy May 14, 2009 at 3:51 PM #

      Hi Bill,

      I have found that rehydrated fungi (morels, chanterelles, trumpets) have the texture of elastic bands, even if the flavor is OK.

      I do not soak or immerse mushrooms whether eating them fresh or preserving them. I wipe them with a damp cloth or paper towel, so they don’t turn to mush – or worse – when I’m ready to cook or store them.

      When I want to preserve the entire mushroom, I chop it and cook it first, then freeze it. When I add defrosted precooked mushrooms to a meal, the texture and flavor are fine. I have never frozen any fungus (or vegetable) without blanching or cooking it first.

      When I use dried mushrooms, I’ll typically crush them into powder and add them to a recipe. This is the only way I have been able to retain the flavor without a texture problem.

      I have no talent for frying. I sauté fungi and vegetables most of the time. I will blanch or steam green vegetables.

      Dried foods can last for years and are great for backpacking trips. But I have found that crushing them and adding them to omelets, soups, stews or sauces beats rehydrating them every time.

      I hope this helps.

    5. tom May 3, 2010 at 7:28 PM #

      rehydrate by soaking in milk 4 to 8 hours until soft and the milk will turn brown. You can use the brown milk in recipes.

    6. jj_murphy May 4, 2010 at 3:21 AM #

      Tom, that’s a brilliant idea. I’m going to give it a try. Thanks. JJ

    7. toothpick62
      victor March 28, 2011 at 11:15 AM #

      I rehydrate my morels in beef bullion water it is a great flavor enhancer and seems to bring out more of the natural flavor lost in drying. I hang mine on thread and let them hang in a dry room that has little traffic. then store in antique mason jars. But i will try this oven idea on a small batch this year.

    8. JJ Murphy March 28, 2011 at 8:06 PM #

      Thanks VIctor. I’ll give that a try. I rehydrated my morels in cream and found the flavor much richer than fresh morels. I’ll probably dry 95 percent of any morels I find in the future. Wishing you an abundant morel season.

    9. kitty April 9, 2011 at 1:13 PM #

      we found over 8o mushrooms so far, but i think we started a little late. i would like to know the best way to clean the morels before drying or cooking thanks for any help

    10. kitty April 9, 2011 at 1:21 PM #

      we have found about 80 morels so far, but i think we started looking a little late. i would like to know how to clean the morels before cooking or drying. thanks for any help. kitty

    11. JJ Murphy April 9, 2011 at 7:54 PM #

      Kitty, what region are you located in? You don’t need to tell me exactly where, but if I know the county and State, then I can get an idea of when the morels will fruit here in NY’s Hudson Valley.

      As for cleaning morels – I do not like to soak them, because it makes them soggy. I personally would cut the morels in half and dehydrate them, which would probably cook most of the critters who might live in them.

      I will not gather a morel that is past its prime or covered in dirt, because there’s too much surface area to ensure you’ll get all the dirt out – I’d rather just look for a fresher morel.

      I can say for a fact that, given the option, I’d choose dried over fresh morels, because the flavor of the fresh morel is no where near as strong as a rehydrated dried morel. This year I soaked morels in milk and then used that milk in a pasta sauce.

      I’ve also heard that morels can be rehydrated in bullion. I plan to give that a try.

      Hope that helps.

      JJ

    12. Christina Biaggi April 20, 2011 at 8:55 AM #

      Everyone: Thank you for all the information. My husband and I have recently, well three years ago, relocated from California to the Missouri Ozark Mountains. We mushroomed for years and dehydrated mushrooms, using them for our Italian cooking. But the mushrooms on our farm here in Missouri are different. And we do not pick or eat unless we can identify. Morels are one type we do pick but I was never sure of the drying process. Great instructions, great pictures. Again, thanks and happy hunting for the fungi

    13. JJ Murphy April 21, 2011 at 3:56 AM #

      Christina, thanks for visiting my site and sharing your mushroom experience.

      I agree with your approach. I don’t want to be the subject of a fellow mycophile’s cautionary tale.

      I don’t know if there is a mushroom club near you, but if there is – join. My club, COMA, not only has walks, but educational seminars, and a winter intensive study program. The effort and work that goes into these endeavors has made it much easier for me to learn. It’s also a fun way to learn, when people are passionate, knowledgeable and supportive.

      As we speak, I’m going to try a new approach to drying morels this year. I plan to cut them in half lengthwise and use the screens I used for dehydrating vegetables. I’m hoping it will be less labor intensive than stringing up each morel. I’ll find out soon if this works.

      Wishing you fungal abundance.

    14. Karen Nelson April 26, 2011 at 2:56 PM #

      I tried my first morel last year when a friend brought some by. Now I hope to find some for myself. Thanks for all the good information.

    15. JJ Murphy April 26, 2011 at 6:44 PM #

      Karen, thanks for visiting my site and commenting. I’m not sure what part of the US you’re in, but I wish you morel abundance.

    16. david bogard May 18, 2011 at 7:07 PM #

      Just started gathering morels, we had a huge fire a few years back and they easy to find. Today I found at least a lb. Thank you for the tips on how to dry. Don’t want to be a pig but there so many and the season will end in june.

    17. Steve October 16, 2011 at 4:45 PM #

      That’s a great idea to suspend the morels with dental floss! No need to turn them since there’s no contact with a tray. Brilliant!

      Thanks, Steve.

    18. JJ Murphy October 17, 2011 at 12:42 AM #

      Thanks for taking the time to comment, Steve. I wish I could remember which mycological guru I learned it from. I wish you fungal abundance. JJ

    19. Al Roy April 21, 2012 at 1:16 PM #

      It’s kind of funny how I arrived here. I built a retaining wall in the back of my property late last summer. A couple of weeks ago, my wife noticed tons of scary looking mushrooms growing in the soil there. We both though for sure that they must be some kind of nasty, poisonous mushroom, so I’ve been on the ‘net for the past hour researching what to do about it.

      I started looking for mushroom pictures, and discovered that they are black morels. Didn’t know a morel from any other mushroom until about 20 minutes ago. Now I see that we have a small treasure in our back yard!

      I don’t know whether I’ll eat them, sell them, or dry them. But I know I won’t be wasting them!

      I’ve been enjoying all the comments here. Thanks!

    20. JJ Murphy April 21, 2012 at 5:57 PM #

      Al, what a delightful story and what a wonderful introduction to learning about mushrooms. Thank you very much for visiting my site and for taking the time to comment.

      I have to say right now I am green with envy. Where do you live? Here in New York’s Hudson Valley we’ve been experiencing an extreme drought. Not a mushroom in sight.

      Enjoy your bounty. It took me a long time, as you can see from the above comments, to learn how to enjoy dried morels. I now like them better than fresh morels.

      I hope this inspires you to continue learning about fungi.

      Happy Foraging,

      JJ

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