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champignon maison borde - Morilles

All about

THE MOREL

This mushroom’s scientific name is Morchella elata or Morchella esculenta. It is identified by its characteristic conical and slender shape, as well as the honeycomb network of sacs that cover it. It is normally brown in colour and appears in the forest or on the embankments lining fields or streams from the beginning of spring onwards.

This is an early fungus but one that remains difficult to find as it blends into its natural environment – particularly among the dead leaves in which it likes to grow. Very often, we can walk right by a morel without even seeing it – and you'd have to be a fine picker to identify it. Difficult to find, rare according to the seasons and with a very unique taste, the morel remains an incredibly popular fungus among amateurs and restaurateurs who pair it with original culinary preparations: sweetbreads, asparagus, scallops and more.

THE MOREL, OR THE QUEEN OF THE UNDERGROWTH

The morel (Morchella elata/esculenta) grows in spring, in forests and embankments. This mushroom is particularly appreciated for its refined taste.

HISTORY

This rare and delicately scented mushroom is highly sought after, with a price second only to that of the black truffle. There are many different morels, each with their own unique characteristics, but what they all have in common is their significant nutritional and culinary benefits. At Borde, the morels we sell are largely wild.

However, many have sought to cultivate this fungus – to varying degrees of success … In 1872, Mr Laurent Geslin offered his advice for cultivating the morel in the Journal d'Agriculture Pratique [Practical Agricultural Journal]. That same year, Mr Ad. Chatin also reported his observations on the cultivation of morels by several gardeners and horticulturists throughout France, published in the Bulletin de la Société Botanique de France [French Botanical Society Newsletter]. Then, in 1889, the Baron d'Yvoire described in detail his method of cultivating morels for all vegetable-cultivation amateurs in the journal of applied sciences of the Société Nationale d'Acclimatation de France [French National Acclimatisation Society]. More recently, the Chinese have mastered the reproduction of its substrate and the growth of morels. In France, we are still experimenting, though the initial large-scale results are encouraging.

champignon maison borde - Morilles

Where does the morel grow?

The morel appears in the spring, under ash trees, birches and more generally under hardwoods and softwoods. It particularly appreciates bright undergrowth, though it will also grow under Scots pine.

This fungus also grows in sandy soils with a limestone subsoil, as well as in stony places like ruins.

The morel can even be found in wastelands and gardens. Like the truffle, this fungus belongs to the category of ascomycetes. Rather than gills or spores, it has sacs.

It has a hollow cap and stem. Though its silhouette can vary, they are most often rounded and more or less spherical (Morchella rotunda or Morchella esculenta), or sometimes oval or conical (Morchella conica or elata). The sacs are irregular, like a sponge.

The stem of the morel is white, slightly fluffy and bulging at the base. The colour of its head also varies: while the conical morel or Morchella elata comes in a darker brown shade, the Morchella rotunda is blonder. The Morchella elata can reach up to 15 cm in height and 5 cm in diameter! At Borde, we offer this morel under the name Jumbo.

HARVEST SEASON:

In our hemisphere, morels are found from late March to May, depending on climatic conditions. Typically, it is a spring fungus.

In the southern hemisphere, it has a later harvest, corresponding to the beginning of our winter.

DRYING MORELS:

In different regions of the world, morels are placed on racks to be dried in the open air or in smoking rooms. The morels can also be dried on a string: the pickers pierce the morel stems and thread them onto a wire to promote drying, either in the open air or by the fire. It is for this reason that we sometimes find morels with pierced stems.

PRODUCTS FROM AROUND THE WORLD:

The Balkan or Macedonian morel: the ultimate perfume! When harvests are low, it is difficult to obtain these mushrooms dried, as fresh morels are sold on market stalls.

The French morel is mainly marketed on fresh markets. Nevertheless, we sell them dehydrated. The French morel is similar in scent to the morel native to Macedonia. It has a thick skin and may not look quite as pretty as its Macedonian counterpart, as it is neither graded nor stemmed.

The North American morel is more neutral in taste and firmer than the European morel. It often grows in the woods and is particularly fond of land on which slash-and-burn farming is practised.

The Anatolian morel (Turkey) is more peppery than the European morel. In India, the morel has a more or less smoky scent, depending on how it is dried. Meanwhile, morels that grow in autumn have a firmer texture.

The cultivated Chinese morel has a fine texture and is very regular, as it is picked when it reaches the size desired by the producer. There has been an increase in fresh cultivated Chinese morels on our stalls in recent years.

The wild Yunnan morel is smoked. Those from other parts of China are more neutral, with thicker skin and a more subtle fragrance.

The South American morel is often conical, with thick skin, developing a delicate and fine fragrance.

FLAVOUR AND AROMA COMBINATIONS:

Typically, a cream (whether or animal or plant-based) will reveal the "umami" flavour of the morel and enhance its smoky and spicy aromas (curry, fenugreek, etc.).

This mushroom goes perfectly with poultry or white meat such as veal. Conventionally, it is used with pasta or risotto. The intense aromas and flavours of the morel mean that it also works well with spring vegetables (peas, asparagus, etc.) and dandelion baby greens.

It enhances the taste of white meats (chicken with morel, for example). The morel can be perfectly combined with an umami-rich vegetable, such as ripe or dried tomato, asparagus or broccoli. It also pairs well with sweet recipes (citrus compote, coated with caramel) or on skewers: accompanied by salted caramel and an exotic fruit.

NUTRITIONAL BENEFITS:

The morel perfects that essential quality shared by all good edible mushrooms: it fills the appetite without adding extra calories to our meals or acting on our sugar metabolism.

In addition to these nutritional benefits, it is particularly rich in certain trace elements (iron, copper, zinc and manganese) and a source of B and D group vitamins. As such, the morel is rightly considered a remarkable "functional food". However, caution must be exercised when buying morels fresh, as this mushroom must be well cooked in order to avoid toxicity. Indeed, like many ascomycetes, the morel contains substances that destroy red blood cells. Luckily, the dehydrated or canned morel loses its toxicity during drying or sterilisation.

MAISON BORDE OFFERS A WIDE
RANGE OF MORELS

champignon maison borde - Morilles

DEHYDRATED MORELS

Drying remains the most suitable method of preservation for many foods, particularly in the case of mushrooms.

Such is the case for the morel, which collectors tend to dry when growth is abundant, in order to continue consuming it throughout the year. This drying promotes a concentration of aromas, especially for those contained in morels. Once rehydrated, the morel offers up all its powerful aromas, which become very present in the mouth. In particular, dehydrated morels can be used to: make a sauce with crème fraîche, add flavour to a pumpkin soup, accompany poultry or pair with fresh asparagus or peas.

CANNED MORELS

A jar of canned morels offers the advantage of being ready for use and allowing you to keep morels to hand at any time.

This method of preservation tends to somewhat denature the product a little, presenting a morel with a softer texture and less pronounced taste than a dried morel. The canned morel will go perfectly in a sauce, with vegetables or as part of a stuffing.

champignon maison borde - Morilles en conserves
champignon maison borde - Morilles lyophilise borde

FREEZE-DRIED MORELS

Freeze-drying is a physical process that extracts water from food via sublimation. This consists in vacuuming and extracting the water, sending it directly from the liquid stage to the gaseous stage.

This technique removes more water than traditional drying and highly concentrates flavours. The mushroom keeps very well, over a long period of time, without denaturing its flavours.

Another advantage is that the fungus rehydrates almost instantly, allowing for easier and immediate use. Freeze-dried morels facilitate quick-use recipes: they can be poured directly into your frying pan with crème fraîche, or added to a velouté. The liquid medium in which they are immersed will rehydrate them.

Mmmmm!

HOW DO YOU COOK THE MOREL?

The morel is a mushroom that increases its aromatic power during the dehydration process. It can then be simply rehydrated at the last moment by following the instructions for use or setting them aside to rehydrate the day before use, allowing you to make best use of their rehydration juice: a true concentrate of flavours.

The morel goes very well with poultry, as in chicken with morels, or with a white meat like veal, enhancing their taste. Other more traditional (and succulent) culinary combinations such as pasta or risottos are also possible. With its intense aromas and flavours, the morel goes perfectly with spring vegetables (peas, asparagus, etc.) and dandelion baby greens. We recommend preparing your morels with an umami-rich vegetable: ripe or dried tomato, asparagus or broccoli.

For those who love sweet and salty combinations, the morel can also be cooked in sweet recipes (citrus compote, coated with caramel) or on a skewer with salted caramel and exotic fruit.

OUR FAVOURITE MOREL RECIPES

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