Peradventure you haven't come in contact or eaten morels, then you are seriously missing out. But if true morels are already part of your diet, then there is no way you cannot applaud these amazing fungi. Well, whichever category you find yourself, let us now have a look at some of the uses of morels and their side effects that you definitely need to be aware of.

It might interest you to know that morels are amongst the most valuable edible fungi in high demand due to their remarkable benefits. True morels are botanically known as Morchella spp. and they belong to the Morchellaceae family in the order of Pezizales (division Ascomycota).

Morels are distinguished by their honeycomb appearance as a result of a network of ridges with pits formed on their caps. They are highly prized due to the difficulties in cultivating them. Morels are also known as muggins, sponge mushrooms, dryland fish, merkels, hickory chickens, molly moochers or huhtasieni.

True morels are prevalent in the temperate Northern regions especially in North America, Australia, the Himalayas, China, Turkey, Israel, Spain, Pakistan, Cyprus and India. Morels usually grow abundantly after a fire outbreak, soil disruption or tree mortality. They thrive mostly in habitats such as burnt over places, road cuts, river banks, excavations, orchards and deer trails.

There are several species of Morchella such as; yellow morels, blushing morels, blonde morels, green morels, false morels, grey morels, semi-free capped morels and black morels. Black morels are slightly firmer and lighter than other species while the green morels are the most preferred amongst users.


Culinary Uses of Morels
Due to the unique flavour and texture of morels, they are used in several cuisines for preparing assorted dishes. Morels can be prepared by sauteing or frying in oil alone or with assorted vegetables of choice. They can be sliced and cooked together with chicken, beef, fish or crustaceans. Morels can be sliced, breaded, deep fried and eaten with sauces.
How to Preserve Morels
Morels are best eaten fresh however, they can be preserved for future uses. Morels can be sliced and washed then stored in the deep freezer until when needed. Morels can be dried and stored in an airtight container. When using dried morels, it is important to soak them in hot water for at least 30 minutes prior to cooking.

Side Effects of True Morels
Apply caution when consuming morels as they contain thermolabile toxins and traces of hydrazine that are harmful to health. As a result, always cook them before eating as cooking destroys these harmful toxins. Some studies reveal that even cooked morels are capable of aggravating the symptoms of gastrointestinal upset especially if consumed with alcohol.
When eating morels for the first time, ensure to eat only a small proportion so as to reduce any potential allergic reaction. Consume the false morels with caution and avoid eating them in a large quantity as they can cause loss of muscular coordination, serious stomach pain or even death. This is attributed to its high constituent of gyromitrin, which is an organic carcinogenic poison that converts into monomethylhydrazine (MMH) in the body.

This post is for enlightenment purposes only and should not be used as a replacement for professional diagnostic and treatments. Remember to always consult your healthcare provider before making any health-related decisions or for counselling, guidance and treatment about a specific medical condition.
1] Keefer, M. E., Winder, R. and Hobby T. (2010), Commercial development of non-timber forest resources: A case study of morels in the East Kootenay, British Columbia, BC Journal of Ecosystems and Management, 11(1&2), pp.39–51.
2] O’Donnell et al., (2011), Phylogeny and historical biogeography of true morels (Morchella) reveals an early Cretaceous origin and high continental endemism and provincialism in the Holarctic, Fungal Genetics and Biology 48, pp.252–265.
3] Pilz, D., Weber, N. S., Carter, M. C., Parks, C. G. and Molina, R. (2004), Productivity and diversity of morel mushrooms in healthy, burned and insect-damaged forests of Northeastern Oregon, Forest Ecology and Management 198, pp.367–386.
4] Pixabay (2017), Images from pixabay.
5] Xi-Hui Du, Qi Zhao & Zhu L. Yang (2015) A review on research advances, issues, and perspectives of morels, Mycology, 6:2, 78-85, DOI: 10.1080/21501203.2015.1016561


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