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Are Dried Morel Mushrooms As Good As Fresh

Slofoodgroup Team March 08, 2023

We’ve all heard the phrase, “fresh is best” but is that really always the case? In fact, it is not. Of course, fresh ingredients are the preferred choice in most instances because they are usually at the peak of their nutritional composition and thus, typically possess higher levels of the unique flavor they are known for.

That said, there are certain instances when preserving ingredients can deepen the flavor and even alter the nutritional composition in beneficial ways. So the question becomes, when should you use dried ingredients vs fresh ones? In this article, we will answer that question as it pertains to morel mushrooms.

Is there really that big of a difference between dried and fresh morel mushrooms? 

Do dried and fresh morels taste the same? 

Mushrooms are about 80-90% water and drying them simply removes that water, leaving the flavor behind. If dried morel mushrooms are used without rehydrating, what you will find is a deeper, concentrated version of that earthy flavor morels possess. Once rehydrating, some of that flavor will disperse into the liquid, but most of it remains and we look at it as a new opportunity for injecting the earthy undertones into your dishes. 

Do dried morel mushrooms have the same texture as fresh?

Unlike many varieties of mushrooms, morels lack a slimy texture. Instead, they are adored for being a “meatier” mushroom. Those that have been soaked in liquid to reconstitute are no different. Not only will they not be slimy once rehydrated, but you will also find that your morels are nearly as dense as their fresh counterpart. They won’t likely reach 100% of the density that they had when fresh but nearly. Plus, when considering their brief seasonality, dehydrating morels can ensure morel lovers aren’t faced with a feast or famine scenario but are instead able to enjoy them year-round. 

When should you use dried morels over fresh? 

If you are lucky enough to have fresh morel mushrooms, by all means, use them for your sautéing, stuffing, frying, or roasting culinary endeavors. Just don’t avoid doing the same if you aren’t amidst the morel seasonal window of opportunity. 

There are times when you might want to opt for dried morels over fresh, however. 

Use dried morel mushrooms as a rub: 

Dehydrated morels are wonderful for imparting deep umami flavor into meats and veggies when ground and mixed with spices to use as a rub. 

When being used in sauces, soups, or stews: 

Dried morels are a wonderful choice for soups, stews, and sauces because the rehydration liquid can be used in place of stock for a more mushroomy flavor in every bite.