A Fungus Amongus

It is spring time in Indiana and that can mean only one thing mushroom hunting season. It has been a little cold for mushroom hunting this spring, but soon they will be out in plenty in our wooded areas of Montgomery County. Morels are fun to go out and find but they are also yummy to eat.

Morel Mushrooms are a low calorie, low fat vegetable that can add a little variety to your plate. While they are low in calories and fat they are a good source of Potassium, Iron and Vitamin D and a moderate amount of protein. Potassium is important for muscle contraction making it vital for a healthy heart. Iron can help prevent anemia and ensures oxygen is being carried to all parts of our bodies. Lastly, Vitamin D helps our bodies absorb calcium for strong bones. With limited amounts of daylight in the winter Vitamin D deficiency is becoming more prevalent. Morels can help boost Vitamin D levels in early spring.

Many mushrooms don’t need a whole lot of cleaning, however Morels with their sponge like texture tend to trap dirt, so it takes a little extra cleaning to prevent contamination. Only clean Morels right before use, they may absorb water causing them to mold. Shake off any debris before soaking the morels in a large bowl of cold water. Swish morels around. If water becomes extremely dirty rinse and refresh with new water. Soak the mushrooms for about 10 minutes. Once clean, put on clean kitchen towel and pat dry. Prepare using a recipe of your choice. If you are storing for later use remove dirt and debris but do not wash with water. Store under refrigeration.

Pair two in season vegetables together for a beautiful and tasty dish.

Morel Mushroom and Asparagus Sauté

  • 3 cups asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1 ½ inch pieces.
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 shallot, thinly sliced
  • 4 cups fresh morel mushrooms, halved lengthwise
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper

Melt butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium high heat; Swirl to coat. Add shallot, sauté 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add morels, asparagus and ½ tsp salt; sauté 5 minutes or until mushrooms are lightly browned. Add oil and pepper; toss gently to coat. Cook 2 minutes or until asparagus is thoroughly heated.

– Monica Nagele is the County Extension Director and educator of health and human science for the Montgomery County Purdue Extension.