Morels are highly desired mushrooms because they are rare and delicious. If you are growing your own morel mushrooms or are hunting them in nature, you might have seen some tiny black bugs on them. They can be hard to see on the mushroom and most people only see them when they are rinsing the morels in water.
At first, these tiny bugs might just seem like organic debris. You might not think anything of it until you realize they all look exactly the same and sometimes you can see them moving. What are these tiny black bugs?
The little bugs you see in your morel rinse water are called springtails and they are actually pretty common bugs. They thrive in fungi like mushrooms, so you might also find them in other types of mushrooms.
What are Springtails?
Springtails are the tiny little black bugs that you will often find in the rinse water of your morel mushrooms. They eat organic matter, meaning morels provide them with the perfect habitat. In addition to morels, you might also see these bugs in rotting wood, areas with high levels of moisture, damp soil, and fungi like mushrooms.
Since morels have so many crevices and pits, it can be hard to make sure you are getting rid of every single springtail that is living in your mushroom. You can try to use a mushroom brush, but it’s not likely that the bristles will be long enough to reach the inside of the pits.
How to Get Rid of Springtails
The best way to get rid of the little black bugs on morel mushrooms is to soak them in water. It is impossible to make sure you are getting rid of every single springtail any other way than soaking them in water. It is the fastest and easiest way, but there are also some other things you can do first.
The first thing you will do to get rid of springtails is cut off the fibrous ends of the stems. Next, you will cut the morels in half for easy cleaning. Using a mushroom brush, very gently work to loosen the debris and dirt that is stuck to the morel.
Rinse the morels with some cool running water to get rid of the loose dirt. Next, create a mixture of salt and water for the morels to soak in. You will need to mix one teaspoon of salt for each cup of cool water.
Mix the salt into the water, then put the mushrooms in to soak. Leave them in the mixture for about fifteen minutes for the best results. You will then need to rinse the morels under running water. You might need to repeat this process a few times to ensure all the springtails are gone.
When you are positive that all of the springtails have been removed from the morels, pat them dry with a clean towel or a bunch of paper towels. As soon as the morels are dry, you can prepare them immediately.
Is There Another Type of Black Bug Found in Morels?
In addition to springtails, there is another type of bug that is commonly found in morel mushrooms. This bug resembles a better, but it is actually called an aradid. They are fungus feeders just like springtails, except they suck out the contents of the mycelium instead of eating the organic matter.
These bugs can easily be identified by their flat body, hand lens, crossed wings, and the beak made of mouthparts on their head. However, it is common to find young aradids on morels, which might not have wings developed yet.
These bugs will be easier to remove because you can see them easier than you can springtails. It is also not likely that there will be massive amounts of aradids on morels because of their size.
Can Morels with Bugs Be Eaten?
It is strongly recommended against eating raw morels because there is a high chance that there will be some type of bug in it. However, if you clean the morel mushrooms properly and cook them properly, you can still eat the mushroom without having any problems.
You might be uninterested in eating morels that you know have had bugs, but most of the foods you eat had bugs on them before being cooked. As long as you clean them and make sure you cook them all the way through, it is completely safe for you to eat morels that had bugs.
After you cook the morels, you will be so wowed by the taste that you will forget the fact that there were bugs living in them until you cleaned them out.
How to Properly Cook Morels
Cooking morels properly isn’t a difficult process. First, you will start by getting a pan ready on your stove. Turn the heat to high and add some oil. When the pan is hot, add the morels and sear them just like you would any other mushroom.
Cook the mushrooms in the pan until they are soft and a darker brown. At this point, you can add other ingredients like onions, garlic, or shallots. As those brown, add some butter to the pan and let it melt. The butter will soak into the morel caps and create a nice flavor.
Can You Bake Morel Mushrooms?
If you don’t want to sear your morels, you can bake them instead. To do this, you will start by preheating your oven to 250 degrees Fahrenheit. You can bake the mushrooms plain or you can cover them with breadcrumbs for a nice touch. Place the morel mushrooms in an even layer on a baking sheet.
The cooking time can range anywhere from five to fifteen minutes, so you need to watch them closely. You should cook them until they are browned and soft, but not too dark. It might take you a few times to get the process down correctly, but when you do it will be worth it.