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Morel mushroom: photo, description, benefits and contraindications

Morel mushrooms are edible and poisonous, but you can tell them apart if you look carefully. There are key differences in colour, shape and size. This article is about the benefits and contraindications of Morel mushrooms.

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The morel mushroom: what it looks like, where it grows, and when to pick it

The morel (Morchella) belongs to the family Morel family, class Pecicomycetes. A poorly studied genus, it is a complex with no clear species boundaries. The known species are not completely independent. Some of them are subspecies or different names of the same species.

The morel mushroom

What do they look like

Massively fruiting, a typical representative of the genus the real morel grows up to 15 cm. The fruiting body consists of a fused cap and stalk, which stand out visually.

The ovoid or rounded-spherical cap is irregular, roughly cellular. It is colored gray, various shades of brown, sometimes orange. Ribs of cells formed by crinkles, grooves, lighter than the general background.

Stalk, fused edges with the cap – white-yellow, emarginate, extended to the fungus. The nicely smelling flesh of the mushroom is thin, brittle, waxy.

Where it grows.

The mushroom grows in the temperate zone of the Northern Hemisphere, and is common in European forests, the United States, and Australia. In Russia and the CIS countries it is widespread evenly, except for the regions of the Far North.

The mushroom prefers moist, calcareous, sandy soils:

  • deciduous and mixed forests;
  • old growth fires;
  • Prosek;
  • glades, glades;
  • edges of fields;
  • foothills of mountains;
  • parks, orchards, vegetable gardens.

Fungi form a symbiosis with the roots of higher plants – ash, birch, aspen.


The most popular species of morels:

The elongate conical cap of the mushroom is 3-9 cm high, 3 cm in diameter, tightly adhering to the stalk. The surface of the hollow cap is cellular-ribbed with dark septa that stand out against the yellow-brown background.

The velvety cylinder-shaped hollow stem narrows or widens toward the ground. The color is white to hazel, the surface is covered with longitudinal grooves.

The saprophyte grows singly and in families on sandy, marshy soils, edges, glades, in coniferous, mixed and floodplain forests.

A large, pleasant-tasting member of the morel family has a fleshy, hollow fruiting body. The ovoid or globular cap is 3-8 cm in diameter and up to 7 cm high, yellow or brown in color. The surface is wrinkled, with a honeycomb-like cell structure.

The hollow 7-cm stalk darkens over time and becomes powdery. Conical morels are common in forest fires, glades with humus soils.

The tall mackerel differs from the conical mackerel in its large size and dark color. The cap, covered with olive-brown triangular cells, reaches a height of 10 cm. The top of the cylindrical, granular stalk, up to 15 cm high, is almost equal to the diameter of the cap (3-5 cm).

The mushroom belongs to the rare species of morels. Sometimes found in forests, more often in the open – on edges, glades, in gardens, vegetable gardens.

The cap, 3 cm in diameter, descends in a cone along the white (creamy) stem by 4 cm and does not adhere to it at the ends. The surface is mottled with sinuous vertical grooves and transverse ribs blackening over time. The color of the cap varies from olive to dark brown.

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Occurs in birch forests, aspen forests, oak groves, city parks, and gardens. Widespread along the beds of rivers and streams.

Mushroom cap.
The name of the mushroom is due to the shape of the cap, which looks like a wrinkled, vertically-folded cap that is attached to the stem only by the upper part. The cap is up to 5 cm high and up to 4 cm wide, changing color with age from chocolate to ochre-yellow.

The white, scaly stem is 7-10 cm high and more often curved, flattened from the sides. The pleasant-smelling flesh is thin and brittle.

The mushroom cap grows in clumps on depleted waterlogged soils.

A rare delicacy, the morel resembles a white mushroom in taste. The fruiting body reaches a quarter of a meter in height and weighs 2 kg. Most of the body is occupied by a grayish-brown, ball-shaped cap covered with narrow cells.

The short two-centimeter stalk, in contrast to the hollow cap, has only small cavities.

The species’ range is steppes, forest-steppes of southern arid regions.

The species owes its name to its thickened, notched stalk, which grows to a height of 30 cm.

The oval or cone-shaped cap is yellowish or brown in color. The species is found in broad-leaved forests.

A hollow mushroom that settles on seashores (dunes), it does not grow taller than 10 cm. It is distinguished from other species by its spherical cap with large, deep cells with a shape close to a circle.

The height of the fruiting body does not exceed 15 cm. The mushroom is similar in appearance to the cone-shaped mushroom. It is distinguished by its larger, vertically elongated cells and pale color – gray with a greenish or brown hue. The species got its name for its excellent taste.

When to harvest

Early spring mushrooms appear just after the snow melts. In southern and central regions, harvesting begins in late March, April, and ends in June, sometimes in the first half of July. In northern regions, some species form fruiting bodies only in May.

If the autumn is warm, the second period of fruiting begins, which occurs in September, the first half of October.

What does it taste like.

Quiet-hunting enthusiasts who don’t miss picking the earliest mushrooms claim that their taste is for aficionados. For some, the product seems delicious, while others flatly reject it.

The pulp of the morels does not have a distinct mushroom odor. It is pleasant, spicy with a nutty, earthy aftertaste. Especially excellent gastronomic qualities have delicatessen, steppe morels.

What is the difference between the morels and the strop

The two species of representatives of the mushroom kingdom have differences in appearance, consumer properties.

Unlike the edible morels, the grosbeak contains in its composition the poison hyromitrin, which is difficult to destroy even with prolonged heat treatment.

The cone-shaped, shapeless cap of the deadly species resembles a turban dressed on a swollen short stalk sunk in the forest floor. Whereas the morel, this part of the fruiting body resembles a bee’s honeycomb, the stinger’s hat resembles the kernel of a walnut or the brain of a walnut. In edible species, the cap is ochre-yellow, gray or brown; in poisonous species, it is more often dark (brown, brown-red, brown).

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Representatives of different species can be distinguished from each other by the stalk. The morel mushroom has a hollow stem, while the shingle is filled with septa.

Composition and calories

100 g of low-calorie product contains half the daily allowance of cobalamin, more than 60% iron, copper.

In addition, the mushroom contains:

  • PP, B vitamins (especially a lot of riboflavin, pyridoxine, pantothenic acid);
  • Micronutrients – manganese, zinc, selenium;
  • Macronutrients – phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, calcium, sulfur, sodium;
  • saturated and unsaturated (Omega-6, 9) fatty acids;
  • dietary fiber;
  • natural sugars;
  • Campesterol.

The energy value of 100 g of the product is 31 kcal. BZU are 3.1, 0.6, 2.3 g, respectively.

What are morels mushrooms useful for the human body

Useful actions of representatives of the genus morels:

  • Mineralize bones, teeth;
  • Strengthen the muscles of the eyes;
  • increase hemoglobin levels;
  • improve carbohydrate, lipid metabolism;
  • Participate in hematopoiesis, normalize blood flow;
  • Accelerate absorption, assimilation of nutrients;
  • Strengthen the immune system;
  • support the vestibular apparatus;
  • Bind, remove toxins;
  • Prevent the development of fetal malformations in pregnant women:
  • stimulate lactation;
  • Accelerate healing of muscle, cartilage tissue injuries;
  • normalize blood pressure;
  • regulate water-salt, acid-base balance;
  • activate the synthesis of insulin;
  • Increase elasticity of joints.

Antioxidants in mushrooms bind, remove free radicals, prevent the formation of malignant tumors, support heart and liver function, and prolong youthfulness.

The use of mushrooms in folk medicine

The antioxidant, diuretic, antiviral, and anti-inflammatory actions of the morel are known and used in folk medicine.

The use of morels in folk medicine

How to apply:

For the treatment of myopia, hyperopia, cataracts
Dry 150 g of mushrooms, grind into powder, pour a glass of vodka. Keep the tincture in a dark cool place for 14 days.
Take the remedy for 30 days in the mornings and evenings after meals in the amount of a teaspoon. For greater effect, wash the tincture with sour juice, morsels.

For joint ailments.
Combine, mix a handful each of flowers of willow, honeysuckle, rosemary. Add to them 100 grams of morels (fresh), beaten in a blender. Pour the mixture in 600 ml of vodka. After 2 weeks, tincture, relieve inflammation, pain, rub into painful joints.

To treat chronic thyroid disease (thyroiditis)
To prepare a tincture, you will need 150 g of fresh, 50 g of dried mushrooms, 500 ml of vodka. Until the condition improves, take the medicine on an empty stomach, 5 ml.

To improve lactation, digestion, treatment of intestinal disorders
Soak the mushrooms in salted water, boil for 30 minutes in a large volume of liquid. Mushrooms (20 g) grind, pour a glass of water. Tom on minimum heat for half an hour. Decoction infused for at least five hours, take before eating 4 times a day 50 ml.

Harms and contraindications

The product is contraindicated in the presence of:

  • pancreatitis;
  • individual intolerance to the product;
  • allergies;
  • inadequate blood clotting;
  • gastric ulcer, duodenal ulcer;
  • gastritis;
  • duodenitis;
  • pyelonephritis;
  • hepatitis, cirrhosis of the liver.

The harm to the body of morels is caused by insufficient heat treatment. Poisons contained in the mushrooms cause severe food poisoning.

Where to buy and how much they cost

Mushrooms are sold through food bases, markets, large chain stores and online sites by individuals, farms, and large agribusinesses.

The average price of fresh mushrooms – 500 p. per 1 kg, dried – 1000-2000 p.

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How to prepare morels for cooking

To keep yourself safe from food poisoning, prepping is essential:

How to prepare morels for cooking
  • Pick the morels and remove any debris from the forest. Cull the crumbled and rotten specimens. Wash away sand, soil.
  • Soak the mushrooms in cold salted water, laying them with their heads down. After 30 minutes, drain the brine, rinse the product.
  • Fill the soaked morels with water. After boiling, add salt, boil for 10 minutes.
  • Change the water. Boil again for another quarter of an hour.
  • Rinse the mushrooms in a colander, rinse thoroughly under running water.

When picking, put only young mushrooms with white stems in the basket, as old ones accumulate a lot of toxins. They are difficult to neutralize even with prolonged heat treatment.

What you can make with morels: recipes

From morels boil delicious soups, make cutlets, julienne. The product is stewed in sour cream sauce, fried, baked in the oven under cheese with potatoes, pickled.

Mushrooms flavor sauces for meat, fish. Pasta and risotto are prepared with them. Baking with morels – pies, kulebyaki, pies – acquires a special flavor.


To make 4 servings of flavorful mushroom soup, you will need:

  • 300 g morels;
  • 60 g butter;
  • 100 ml of sherry;
  • 700 ml of chicken broth;
  • 100 g cheese;
  • 4 onions;
  • 2 tbsp. sugar;
  • 100 g white bread;
  • salt;
  • ground cloves, nutmeg.

How to boil:

  • Pour 250 ml of water over the prepared, coarsely chopped mushrooms. Add cloves, salt, boil for 5 minutes over low heat.
  • Peel and slice onions into half rings. Saute in a saucepan in butter. Pour in sugar, continue cooking for 10 minutes.
  • Pour in the sherry, stew until the wine smell is gone.
  • Add 700 ml of chicken broth, simmer over low heat.
  • After half an hour, pour the mushroom broth with the morels, salt, introduce the nutmeg into the dish. Bring to a boil, remove the container from the stove.

Fry slices of white bread in butter. Cut the croutons into round shapes. Sprinkle each one with grated cheese, put in a preheated 180 degrees oven for 5 minutes. Serve the soup with the croutons.

Mushroom Cutlets

Nourishing original cutlets can feed the family by serving the dish for lunch or dinner.


  • 250 g of morels;
  • 50 g sour cream;
  • 400 g loaf;
  • 2 eggs;
  • breadcrumbs;
  • salt;
  • butter, milk to taste.

How to make:

  • Rinse the mushrooms, soak for half an hour in salted water. Cut into pieces, boil for a quarter of an hour, rinse thoroughly in running water.
  • Soak the loaf in milk. When it softens, squeeze, pass with the morels through a meat grinder.
  • Peel the onions, chop them in small cubes. Fry until golden, add to the stuffing.
  • Beat the egg, salt, knead.
  • Whisk the second egg in a bowl with a fork. In another bowl pour the breadcrumbs.
  • Form the cutlets. Each dip first in egg, then roll in breadcrumbs.
  • Place the croquettes in a hot frying pan with vegetable oil. Fry until cooked on both sides.

Serve mushroom cutlets with sour cream, mashed potatoes, fresh vegetable salad.

Pasta with morels

To prepare an Italian dish with Russian morels, prepare:

  • 300 g of mushrooms;
  • 300 g noodles;
  • glass of cream;
  • 2 tbsp. each of soy sauce and tomato sauce;
  • 80 ml each of olive oil, white wine;
  • 1 onion;
  • salt, paprika.
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Cooking steps:

  • Put a pot of water on the stove. When it boils, pour in the noodles.
  • Remove the husk from the onion, cut into cubes, fry in oil.
  • Add washed, soaked and boiled mushrooms to the pan.
  • After 5 minutes, pour in the wine. When it has evaporated, add the cream, sauces, and seasonings. Simmer over low heat for 10 minutes.
  • Toss the finished noodles in a colander and arrange in portions on plates. Pour over the sauce with the morels.

This exquisite dish takes only 20 minutes to prepare.

Mushrooms in sour cream sauce

Fried mushrooms in sour cream have a delicate flavor and subtle aroma.

Set of products for 2 servings:

  • 1 kg of morels;
  • 150 g sour cream;
  • onion;
  • vegetable oil, butter;
  • salt, ground pepper.

Cooking Algorithm:

  • Sauté the chopped onion in vegetable oil, put it in a plate. Add butter to the frying pan, fry the mushrooms that have been prepared (washed, soaked, boiled).
  • Add fried onions, thick sour cream to the morels.
  • Season with salt and pepper. Braise under a lid for 5 minutes.

Serve as a dish on its own or with pasta, potatoes, vegetables.

How to preserve morels for the winter

If you gathered a lot of mushrooms in the nearby forest, you can enjoy them all winter. There are three ways to prepare the product: freezing, drying, or pickling.

How to prepare morels for the winter

Dried morels

After the moisture evaporates, the fragile fruiting bodies become denser and easier to create culinary masterpieces with exquisite flavor.

How to Dry:

  • Sort through the mushrooms, setting aside the small specimens. They are not suitable for drying. Separate the stalks (you will only need the caps).
  • Rinse quickly, place on paper towels.
  • Cut into slices.
  • Line a baking tray with parchment. Place the chopped caps in it.
  • Dry in the oven with the door ajar or with convection on at 50°C for 3 hours.
  • Set t – 70 degrees, continue drying until ready to use.

Store the billet in a canvas bag or tightly closed glass jar.

Frozen morels.

Clean the fresh mushrooms of debris, rinse, and soak them in cold water for 2 hours. Boil for a quarter of an hour, change the water, repeat the heat treatment.

Toss the morels in a colander. When the liquid drains off, place them on clean kitchen towels to get rid of any excess moisture.

Spread the mushrooms into bags, squeeze out the air, tie, and send to the freezer. You can use food containers or freeze the morels on a cutting board for 5 hours, transfer to bags for later storage.

Pickled morels.

To pickle 1 kg of morels deliciously, you’ll need:

  • 6 bay leaves;
  • 30 peas of black pepper;
  • 5 g salt;
  • 3 tbsp. of 6 percent vinegar;
  • One-third teaspoon of citric acid;
  • If desired, cinnamon, cloves.


  • Clean the mushrooms from the debris, sort them out, and rinse them. Soak for an hour in salted water. Boil in 2 stages of 15 minutes, changing water and rinsing.
  • Prepare the marinade. In 500 ml of water add spices, seasonings.
  • Boil for half an hour, cool, pour the vinegar.
  • Place mushrooms in clean jars, pour marinade over them. Screw the lids on.

Store the preserves in a dark, cool place.

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Can morels be grown at home

If your house or apartment has windows facing north or west, you can grow morels on a windowsill:

Growing morels.
  • Fill a box or large pot with a soil mixture of peat, gypsum, birch or oak sawdust, and wood ash.
  • Spread store-bought mycelium over the surface. Sprinkle soil from the broadleaf forest.
  • Water with warm water.
  • Sprouts will appear in 2 weeks if the substrate is not allowed to dry out.

Important: Planting should not fertilize with organics, allow direct sunlight, water with chlorinated water immediately from the tap.

A more reliable way to grow mushrooms is on a plot of land:

  • In the spring or summer, choose a shady spot under a broadleaf tree.
  • Remove the top layer of soil. Spread a 10 cm layer of specially prepared substrate on the vacated space.
  • Water (10 liters per square meter). Sprinkle mycelium on top. Cover with the removed soil, moisten the soil again. Cover with tree leaves.
  • Don’t let the soil dry out, feed with wood ash.
  • For the winter, insulate the plantings with leaves, straw, and pressed branches.
  • In the spring after the snow has melted, remove the cover.

Sprouts will appear in 2-3 weeks. The fungus will bear fruit for up to 5 years.

First aid for mushroom poisoning

Symptoms of mushroom poisoning begin 1-1.5 hours after eating. They are manifested by abdominal cramps, headaches, fever, nausea and vomiting, diarrhea.

Severe intoxication causes drowsiness, impaired cardiac and respiratory functions, increased sweating, and salivation.

If mushroom poisoning is suspected, an ambulance is called. While the ambulance reaches the patient, first aid is given to the patient:

  • Provide bed rest.
  • Give plenty of fluids – mineral water, chilled green tea.
  • If there is no vomiting, induce artificially. After the poisoned person has consumed 1-1.5 liters of water, it is necessary to press with the fingers on the root of the tongue.
  • In the absence of diarrhea, a purgative enema is given.
  • For the fastest elimination of toxins the victim is offered to take absorbents – activated charcoal, Polysorb, Enterosgel, Smecta.
  • In case of dehydration, Regidron or other saline solutions are needed.

First aid given in time shortens the period of recovery to 2-3 days. Treatment of severe intoxication can take up to a month. Doctors advise not to get rid of the remaining mushrooms. To clarify the cause of poisoning, the product will be sent for testing in the laboratory.

The popular object of silent hunting reveals its exquisite taste and has beneficial, therapeutic effects, if it is properly identified and prepared. The mackerel is necessarily subjected to soaking, a long heat treatment, which gets rid of toxic substances.

Photo of morels.
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