Morel Mushrooms: in album mushrooms
|Jul 5th, 2011, by Alex Zorach|
These morel mushrooms were for sale at Iovine's Produce Corner in the Reading Terminal Market in Philadelphia, for $69.99 a pound. Morels are mushrooms of the Morchella genus; morels have a sponge-like appearance, very different from the cap structure of most of the widely-consumed mushrooms.
Morels are often only available as a wild mushroom. I do not know if these particular ones were cultivated, but I do not know of any cultivation operations for morels, and the high price here would suggest that these might be wild-harvested.
Although morels are edible, there are a few points of caution about their consumption. They are not safe to eat raw. Also, there are other mushrooms (collectively called "false morels") that resemble morels superficially in appearance, but are in other genuses; some of these can be toxic, carcinogenic, or can require special preparation to make them safe to eat.
Ecologically speaking, morels are generally beneficial to the forest ecology. They form mycorrhizal associations (mutualistic) with the roots of plants, and also break down dead organic material.