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Morel Mushroom Hunt and Taste Off

Blind tasting of Morel Mushrooms reveal different flavors

Bags of morel mushrooms are awaiting our very scientific blind tasting. Photo by Christine Willmsen

Bags of morel mushrooms are awaiting our very scientific blind tasting. Which mushrooms will we choose as the best – fire or natural morels. Photo by Christine Willmsen

Who doesn’t love mushrooms – those woodsy, musty and earthy caps that mysteriously and miraculously spring from the ground.  I was lucky to be invited to a taste off of morel mushrooms. My friend who is a mycologist and excellent cook – Matt Ironside – had recently plucked morels from the slopes of low-lying hills and mountains in secret locations within two hours of Seattle.

The morels were gigantic and fresh. Photo by Christine Willmsen

The morels were gigantic and fresh. Photo by Christine Willmsen

Knowing I had a crush on mushrooms, he asked me to join him and others to blindly taste natural morel mushrooms and fire morels. Fire morels grow after a forest fire. He wanted to know which we favored and why.

Matt is always on the hunt – for mushrooms that is. Like other mycologists he has his favorite secret spots that I’m sworn to secrecy. He came to the dinner, juggling several bags of morels. They were clean, large and begging to be in my mouth.

Matt prepared them the same way, sautéing sliced morels in butter and a touch of salt. He presented two plates, with the mushrooms looking almost identical. With chopsticks in hand, five of us voted on which plate we liked the best. And the winner by way of finger-pointing to the favorite mushrooms were the fire morels.

The winner of the blind tasting was the fire morels that were sauteed in light butter and a touch of salt. Photo by Christine Willmsen

The winner of the blind tasting was the fire morels that were sauteed in light butter and a touch of salt. I swear there was a hint of smokiness. Photo by Christine Willmsen

They were rich, earthy, nutty and creamy with a carmelized finish. And I swear there was hint of smokiness. Another judge said the fire morels were so meaty and flavorful they could replace a steak for dinner. The natural morels tasted great too, but the clear winner was the fire morels.

For more information on mushrooms connect with the Puget Sound Mycological Society. They have field trips for hunting mushrooms. I suggest if it’s your first few hunts for mushrooms that you go with an experienced mushroom hunter. 

Please keep Hildegard Hendrickson in your thoughts and prayers, she’s an expert mushroom hunter who has been missing since a morel hunt June 8. A search for her has been suspended.

Mycologist Matt Ironside stirs up a creamy morel mushroom risotto for dinner after our blind tasting. Photo by Christine Willmsen

Mycologist Matt Ironside stirs up a creamy morel mushroom risotto for dinner after our blind tasting. Photo by Christine Willmsen

Morels will be in season for the next couple weeks in Washington state.

So hunt them, buy them or order them on a restaurant’s menu, because these are the jewels of the earth worth savoring, especially if they were born after a blazing fire.

Cheers

Christine

About The Solo Cook

An award-winning journalist with a passion for food. A writer and speaker who hopes to inspire everyone to take adventures with food. If I'm not cooking, I'm not happy. I started this blog to inspire single people out there to cook and experience food.

2 responses »

  1. Maria Marabella

    Soooo disappointed. I thought I was going to get to blind taste morel mushrooms. Enjoyed your article, and could almost taste those fire morels.

    Reply

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