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Discussion Starter #1
...but I'm going to ask it a different way, and hopefully I'll have some peace about my upcoming mushroom season.

How should I preserve the morels I find this spring? I know, I know...do a search! I have, and I understand that some folks flash freeze them or freeze them in various manners. I know that some folks dry them various ways from stringing with needle and thread and hanging up in a dry area to using a food dehydrator....then some freeze and some don't. The info I have found is great information, but I have a slightly different situation (I think) than most folks on here. So hopefully y'all can give me some guidance.

I started finding morels....finally...the last two years I lived in Indiana in 2017 and 2018, and I found decent amounts, but never enough to have any left after two or three fried wild turkey, ramps, and morel feasts that have now become our favorite and most anticipated family meals of the year.

We moved to Wyoming spring 2018, and I have traveled back to Indiana and Ohio to turkey hunt, harvest osage orange bow wood, dig ramps, and hunt morels each of the last two years. Both years, I made it back home with my 70-100 greys and yellows and a cooler full of ramps just in time to sautee the mushrooms, wilt the ramps, and fry the turkey. Ramps, BTW, are mine and my familys favorite food on earth, and no one that I've turned on to ramps has been anything less than floored at how incredible they are.

So this year, I am doing my annual turkey/ramp/osage/and morel trip, but I am expanding it to include a swing through SC to turkey hunt and visit a buddy for a couple of days and share that same turkey/ramp/morel feast with him. How would you go about handling your morels if you were going to make this same trip, so that they would be in the best condition possible upon returning to Wyoming.

4/11 leave Wyoming and drive to Indiana.
4/13 wake up, dig ramps, and look in usual good spots and see if any are up yet...if so, pick them. Drive to Ohio in pm
4/14 wake up and go look in usual good Ohio spots. I've found here on 4/22 in past, but always seem to be
about a week late, so this should be prime time to get some freshies. Pick what I can find in proven spots
then spend the next day looking for new spots on that land. Pick what I find. and head to SC 4/15pm
4/16 Arrive in SC in the am, take a nap, thaw wild turkey thats been in cooler with dry ice, eat a nice turkey.
ramp, and morel meal with my bud...then catch a buzz and go catfishing.
4/17 thru 4/23 I will be turkey hunting, cutting river cane and sourwood shoots for arrows, cutting and sealing a
big osage tree, and visiting family and friends.
4/23 Head back up to Ohio
4/24-4/27, 4/28, 4/29, or 4/30...turkey hunting in the mornings, and morel hunting and picking in the afternoons. As soon as my bud in ohio and I kill fill out tags, we will be looking to head back to Wyoming,,,likely around the 28th.
4/28 stop back in Indiana and check my proven spots again...this spot usually produces later than Ohio, and
this should be prime time. Pick what I can find and dig more fresh ramps...head to Wyoming.
4/30 or 5/01....arrive back in Wyoming where my wife and two boys will be chomping at the bit to get the grease hot for our long awaited fried turkey, wilted ramps, and sauteed morel feast.

So....If I arrive with a bunch of crumbled morels that are not lookng so hot, they wont be so fired up to see me!
How would you deal with shroom finds on those days I will be picking to ensure they got back home to wyoming in the best condition possible for cooknig upon arrival. I can take a dehydrator with me and speed dry any extra from the first trip thru IN and OH once I get to SC...my buddy has a vaccuum sealer I can use if that would work. Should I throw them in the freezer in SC then keep them in a cooler with dry Ice? I just want to have a solid plan in place that will work and keep me from screwing them up on the 3 week, mostly vehicle-bound journey.
I figure the ones I find on the second pass back thru OH and IN will keep just fine in a paper bag in a cooler for the two or three day trip back to WY, but I have a feeling I am going to rack up in OH that first week, and I want them to make it back to my family. How would you do it if you were me? Thanks in advance.
 

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And on a related note...have any of you ever come out to hunt morels in Wyoming? There isn't a whole lot of info to be found, but the few threads on here say bighorn mountains in burn areas right after the snow melt. I'll be up there looking in mid to late June for certain, but I live in SE Wyoming with the Laramie and Snowy mountain chains a short drive from my house, Has anyone had any luck in either the Snowy or Laramie mountains? From the little info I've found, if you get on them here the year after a burn, you can absolutely pick all you are allowed to harvest day after day until they are gone. I'm looking forward to that possibility, but it took me three years of looking in Ohio and Indiana before finally finding a couple or three spots, so I'm not going to count on going up and hitting the motherload right off the bat here in this vast wilderness. Thanks.
 

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Ok...after reading that, it was a lot to try to follow and answer...sorry, written during sleep deprivation! So, I’ll try to figure out what I’m going to do using a better strategy that won’t give y’all a migraine.

Do you think that picked morels will keep well in a paper bag on a tray in a big cooler with ice under the tray for 25-30 days, or should I dry them and vacuum seal?

I would freeze them and try to keep them frozen with dry ice in a cooler, but Idon’t know if I can keep that up for that long. Thanks.
 

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Ok...after reading that, it was a lot to try to follow and answer...sorry, written during sleep deprivation! So, I’ll try to figure out what I’m going to do using a better strategy that won’t give y’all a migraine.

Do you think that picked morels will keep well in a paper bag on a tray in a big cooler with ice under the tray for 25-30 days, or should I dry them and vacuum seal?

I would freeze them and try to keep them frozen with dry ice in a cooler, but Idon’t know if I can keep that up for that long. Thanks.
Ok...after reading that, it was a lot to try to follow and answer...sorry, written during sleep deprivation! So, I’ll try to figure out what I’m going to do using a better strategy that won’t give y’all a migraine.

Do you think that picked morels will keep well in a paper bag on a tray in a big cooler with ice under the tray for 25-30 days, or should I dry them and vacuum seal?

I would freeze them and try to keep them frozen with dry ice in a cooler, but Idon’t know if I can keep that up for that long. Thanks.
Ok...after reading that, it was a lot to try to follow and answer...sorry, written during sleep deprivation! So, I’ll try to figure out what I’m going to do using a better strategy that won’t give y’all a migraine.

Do you think that picked morels will keep well in a paper bag on a tray in a big cooler with ice under the tray for 25-30 days, or should I dry them and vacuum seal?

I would freeze them and try to keep them frozen with dry ice in a cooler, but Idon’t know if I can keep that up for that long. Thanks.
I’ll share an experience I had recently that you might find helpful. I freeze a lot of my excess morels that I find in April and May. I prep these to be fried later. I slice the morels in half, dip them in milk and dredge in flour. I then place them on a cookie sheet and immediately place them in the freezer. The next day, I remove them from the cookie sheet and place them in quart freezer bags and leave in the freezer until ready to use. They usually will keep without freezer burning for @ 6 months. Earlier this month I packed my Yeti cooler with all frozen food, including my last 3 quart bags of frozen morels and that food remained in the cooler for @ 26 hours while traveling. When we arrived at our destination I discovered the morels had slightly thawed and they were stuck together in a clump. Usually I can just individual frozen morels out of the bag. The mistake I made in transporting the morels was laying them on the top of everything else in the cooler which caused them to not stay frozen. I should have place the bagged morels in a crush proof container and packed them deeper in the cooler among or below the other frozen foods.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
That’s actually very helpful. I’ve been wanting a big, rotomolded cooler for a long time, and this trip may give me the excuse to bite the bullet. I’m going to tote some frozen turkey and deer with me, and I want to keep that frozen...that won’t happen in a regular cooler with ice or even dry ice. In a quality roto, it’ll stay frozen with dry ice for certain. I could also freeze the mushrooms once I get to Ohio, then I should be able to keep them frozen in a crush proof container in between dry ice packs. The key here is a quality cooler, and I didn’t even think about that. Thanks.
 

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That’s actually very helpful. I’ve been wanting a big, rotomolded cooler for a long time, and this trip may give me the excuse to bite the bullet. I’m going to tote some frozen turkey and deer with me, and I want to keep that frozen...that won’t happen in a regular cooler with ice or even dry ice. In a quality roto, it’ll stay frozen with dry ice for certain. I could also freeze the mushrooms once I get to Ohio, then I should be able to keep them frozen in a crush proof container in between dry ice packs. The key here is a quality cooler, and I didn’t even think about that. Thanks.
Well I fried up some of the transported morels this morning. It was a chore to separate the ones that had partially thawed and refrozen causing them to bind together. Some broke into smaller pieces. I could also taste a little freezer burn taste from being frozen for 10 1/2 months. They were ok but definitely not as good as fresh. I won’t ever leave any in the freezer longer than 6 months from now on.
 

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Putting them in containers and low in the cooler topped by dry ice and/or in combination with regular ice packs should keep them frozen. The dry ice will make the other ice packs freeze colder than any home freezer could do, and they last longer. Cold air sinks. A quick saute before freezing can help them stay fresher tasting longer. all foods have freezer shelf lives. freezing slows down pathogens that can effect taste and edibility but doesn't kill them. I much prefer drying my morels. if dried very well and put in AIRTIGHT containers they can last for years. I think drying improves the flavor but they won't be as soft as fresh fried morels once re-hydrated.
 

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Putting them in containers and low in the cooler topped by dry ice and/or in combination with regular ice packs should keep them frozen. The dry ice will make the other ice packs freeze colder than any home freezer could do, and they last longer. Cold air sinks. A quick saute before freezing can help them stay fresher tasting longer. all foods have freezer shelf lives. freezing slows down pathogens that can effect taste and edibility but doesn't kill them. I much prefer drying my morels. if dried very well and put in AIRTIGHT containers they can last for years. I think drying improves the flavor but they won't be as soft as fresh fried morels once re-hydrated.
II like this idea. I love the flavor of morels, and I usually sauté them to better enjoy the flavor. I fried some once, and it was mostly fry and little mushroom flavor. I also prefer the greys as they are much more meaty and hardy than the yellows I’ve found, so the rehydrated ones not being as soft and more flavorful is right up my alley. I’ll tote a dehydrator with me and go this route. Thanks
 

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Just before they're finished cooking put a few dashes of liquid smoke in the pan. Just a tad. It seems to highlight the wild morel flavor in both fresh and dried morels. Not enough to make them taste smoky though.
When you rehydrate the morels save the liquid and freeze it until the next batch to get rehydrated. After a few uses it actually adds flavor to the morels. It can also be used in a reductiuon sauce.
 

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If you get a dehydrator get one that is set at no more than 115 degrees or has an adjustable temp setting. Hotter than 115 can cook them and too cool can allow them to spoil. My dehydrators are 125 but I leave the top off until they are nearly crispy.
Make sure any drier doesn't recirculate air thru the fan. Morels put out lots of spores when drying and they can clog up fans. My driers use fresh air. I like toset y morels out on my drier rack in the sun to pre-dry before putting them on the drier base.
When away from home I sotre tham in zip lock bags but put them back in the drier when I get home and then store them in bail top jars with tight lids with silicone seals/gaskets. They have to be very dry before storing for any length of time. I had a gallon jar that ihad to throw away due to tiny lice, similar to book lice, that ate away at some of them for 8 years. The morels still felt dry to the touch but not real crispy.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Good info. Its going to be a long two months! If I get them back to Wyoming, all I'll have to do is put them outside in a container that has holes in it and is anchored to something, and the wind, sun, and lack of humidity here will have them bone dry in no time flat.
 
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