These photos are not all from 2021!
First and foremost, let’s clear this up: dried morels that have been reconstituted and cooked up taste very, very good. My father in law who has been doing this for 40+ years believes that dried morels develop a more concentrated flavor and that the drying process actually makes them taste better than fresh morels. I do not disagree with the man.
Dried morels produce a beautiful byproduct that is almost as good as the morel mushrooms themselves. For rehydrating a small amount of morels it’s only a four or five ounces. Yet it is a potent, delicious elixir I like to call “morel liquor”. Think of it as a morel mushroom stock that can be thrown into a quart sized container in the freezer. Keep adding to it as you rehydrate more and more morels over the year and ultimately you will be left with a lot of really rich mushroom stock to add a taste of spring to your winter soups, stews, and gravies.
Drying them out on screens in your living room makes the whole house smell like morels.
You might find one, two or three one day. Not many, right?! Is it really worth it to cook up one or two morels? But if you dry it and have four or five days like that, then at the end you will be left with a generous helping of morels that you could share with others.
When you are mushroom hunting during the season, sometimes you get skunked. A lot of times, actually. Then you find that one big elm that gives you a few lbs all at once! I say, if they’re all pristine, dry them all! That one tree just provided you with morels for four or five meals the rest of the year. And surely you’ll find another batch of fresh morels for a good fresh May morel meal.
It’s worth noting here that, especially after fresh rains (like right now 5.22.21), morels can get kind of water logged and a little bit crumbly and brittle. These morels are often best eaten right away. Also really large morels I think are better to eat stuffed. Dried morels are easy to saute and add to pastas, top a steak with, stir into a hearty soup but one thing you can’t do very well with a dried morel is to stuff it.