Why You Should Stop Slicing The Stems Off Morel Mushrooms

food, why you should stop slicing the stems off morel mushrooms

three morel mushrooms in forest

With their exotic honeycomb appearance and earthy-yet-nutty flavor, morel mushrooms are one of the most sought-after mushrooms in the world. According to Untamed Feast, they are the rockstars of the food world, often showing up in top-notch dishes and tending to be enjoyed by people who don’t even like mushrooms! They are also especially desirable because they are quite difficult to grow and cannot be commercially farmed — they can only be foraged in the wild (per Allrecipes). As a result, mushroom hunting and foraging is a rapidly growing hobby, or even job for some, especially when it comes to highly coveted mushrooms like morels.

When we do get our hands on these delicious little fungi treats, it is crucial that we understand how to use them in order to express their full culinary potential. Many assume that you should only eat the cap of the morel mushrooms and cut off the stems, but this might be a mistake for several reasons.

Don’t Fear The Stems

food, why you should stop slicing the stems off morel mushrooms

morel mushrooms on cutting board

Depending on the type of mushroom, sometimes the stems are actually the best part. This is the case with the morel’s very flavorful stalk (via America’s Test Kitchen). King Oysters are another mushroom with a highly revered stem. While some stems are tougher and less flavorful — like that of the shiitake mushroom — it would be wasteful to toss away the stems of morel mushrooms which, incidentally, are fairly expensive. While you will enjoy eating the morel stem, make sure you cook it, because it does contain toxic constituents that will break down when cooked (per Fungially).

The stem is not quite as tender as the cap because it contains more fiber, but this can be an advantage with soups and broths, as they can cook longer and still carry the same flavor as the caps (according to GroCycle). Serious Eats suggests that when cooking morel mushrooms, you may want to remove the very bottom of the stem, which is often dirty, and then just halve the mushrooms and sear with butter or garlic. It does not take much to enjoy their distinct flavor and meaty texture.

Whether you are lucky enough to find them in a store or deep in the woods, the “morel” of the story: Enjoy the mushroom *and* the stems.

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