Never heard of pickling morel mushrooms? You're missing out. Drying morels is great, their flavor gets concentrated and rich and they make a wicked sauce. There's a bit of a trade off in their texture though, which happens when you dry any mushroom. After drying, mushrooms get a bit more chewy, and just aren't as succulent as fresh.
Part of the issue of pickled morels sounding odd is that you generally think of pickles as something you eat cold, but they're just as good if not better warmed up or used any way that you'd like to serve fresh morels.
Since they're pickles, they're a bit acidic, but that acid can be a real benefit if you know what to do with them. Slipping them into a sauce or gravy will fool anyone you know, I guarantee you. The acid added to them in the pickling process also makes them a shoe-in for a vinaigrette or salad, the possibilities are really endless.
Before I wrote this recipe a while back, I'd pickled plenty of wild mushrooms, for some reason it never occurred to me to pickle morels though. I was looking through an old Roman cookbook of mine one day, and saw a cooking method I recognized as a basic pickle. The method called for morels to be cooked with verjus (acidic juice of unripe grapes) and oil. I knew I had to try pickling them, a couple years later I've used the basic recipe for hundreds of pounds of these guys.
Pickled Morel Mushrooms
- Roughly 1.5 lbs fresh small morels
- 3 cups water
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 5 black peppercorns
- 1 cup champagne vinegar
- A few small sprig of fresh thyme
- 1 Large clove garlic Thinly sliced
- 1 Tablespoon Cooking oil
- Wash and clean the morels to remove grit, making sure to leave the morels whole.
- Heat the oil and garlic until the garlic is lightly browned and caramelized, but not burnt. Add the water, salt, thyme, vinegar and pepper then bring to a simmer. Add the fresh morels and cook, about 3-4 minutes, until they wilt and decrease in size. Discard the garlic.
- Place the morels and the pickling liquid into ½ pint or pint canning jars and process in a water bath canner for 15-20 minutes.