If you are blessed with an abundance of fresh morels, this is a great way to preserve these springtime treats so that you can enjoy them year-round.
Morels dry beautifully, retaining all of their flavor. When properly dried and rehydrated in hot water, their texture is almost identical to fresh morels. Dried morel mushrooms can be stored indefinitely so long as they are not exposed to moisture.
First, clean the morels. Forget everything you've heard about not washing mushrooms in water, and give these treasures a good rinsing off. You may want to cut the morels in half lengthwise to make cleaning them easier.
Insects often hide out in the honeycomb-like crevasses of these mushrooms, even after the rinsing off. To get rid of them, dissolve about 2 tablespoons of salt in a half gallon of water. Soak the morels in the saltwater for at least 10 minutes, but not longer than 30 minutes (yes, I know there is a lot of advice out there about soaking them in the salt water overnight. Don't do it: they lose flavor and their texture isn't as good).
Once the morels have had their soak, give them another rinse to get rid of the salt. Gently squeeze the mushrooms in a clean dishtowel to get rid of as much water as possible.
Although morels can be dried whole, you want the mushrooms to be approximately the same size when they go into the dehydrator so that they dry evenly. You can do this by loading each dehydrator tray with similarly sized morels: the trays of smaller mushrooms will be ready to come out of the dehydrator sooner than the trays of larger ones.
Alternatively, slice larger morels into halves or smaller pieces so that they are closer to the size of your smaller ones.
Arrange the morels on the dehydrator trays, making sure that none of the pieces touch or overlap.
Dry them at 125F/52C until the pieces are crispy dry. This will take 4 to 6 hours for small slices, up to 8 hours for larger or whole morels.
Allow the dried morels to cool completely before transferring them to glass jars. Cover tightly with lids and store away from direct light or heat.
To use dehydrated morel mushrooms, pour boiling water over them in a heat-proof bowl. Let them soak for 15 to 30 minutes. Drain, reserving the richly flavored soaking liquid for soup stocks and sauces. Use the rehydrated morel mushrooms as you would fresh ones.