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Morels are ugly suckers, but yummy

Morel Mushroom Poisonings Up in Montana, Idaho

Morel mushroom poisonings have recently increased in Idaho and Montana, according to the Rocky Mountain Poison and Drug Center.

The Center wants us all to know that it’s dangerous to eat raw, dried, or partially cooked morels, and it’s also unsafe to drink wine or other alcohol with any morels, cooked or not.

Morel poisoning causes impressive, repeated vomiting, usually right after you eat those bad boys.

From the Center’s press release, it’s easy to tell that this is more than a dodgy situation – it’s serious.

Do not drink and eat morels, cook them to death, and reject the dried kind.

“Impressive vomiting” is enough for me.

About Jill Kuraitis

Jill Kuraitis is an award-winning journalist who specializes in news of Idaho and the Rocky Mountain West. Her B.A. in theatre management is from UC Santa Barbara, and she went on to work in theatre, film, and politics before writing became a career. Kuraitis has two excellent grown children and lives in Boise with her husband of 30 years, abundant backyard wildlife, and two huge hairy dogs.

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  1. Mmmm, morels. I’ve never had a problem. I do cook them a long time, though.

    I just wonder, is it possible they’re getting them confused with false morels?

  2. well it is true that morels + alcohol is bad. And that some people may honestly have a bad reaction. So, it’s safest to sample it before indulging.
    And yeah a small toxicity exists in morels if uncooked. Though it effects individuals differently, or not at all.

  3. There is a large slab of prohibition left in all parts of the American Dream< .i>. It would seem pretty surprising to read about anything w/o the almost knee-jerk advice to eschew alcohol while using it…

  4. And that is related to mushrooms how?

  5. ‘Shrooming was supposed to be one of the economic answers to no logging.

    Now I see the connection. First, burn the forest. Then pick the mushrooms feeding on dead trees. And then get confused and poisoned. I never knew anybody who got log poisoned. Maybe a hemlock sliver might puss up good. Or your lungs got taken out in a white cedar mill by the natural insecticides in the wood shavings and sawdust. At least you went out after making a living wage.

  6. Is that picture with your article of a morel or a false morel? Clarify please. And clarify if poisonings were indeed from true morel mushrooms. Maybe a mix, someone picked some of each?
    By the way milk thistle extract can save people from amanita poisoning.

  7. The photo is a real morel, and the Rocky Mountain Poison and Drug Center confirms the poisonings were not from “false morels.” I relied on science, not conjecture.

  8. This certainly explains what happened to me last summer in Central Washington. “Impressive vomiting” is right. I thought i DID cook them long enough though . . .

  9. I’ve been cooking them for years with a little sherry and cream, pour them over a medium rare steak and enjoy with a glass of wine.

  10. roadtripper4444

    I’ve eaten a lot of morels with a lot of wine and I’ve never gotten ill, and neither have any of my friends who’ve done the same. We do cook them completely, maybe that has something to do with it. I’ve never seen adverse effects with morels in combination with wine. I guess it’s wise to just go easy if you’ve never had them. I’ve heard some people are more sensitive to mushroom poisoning.

    they sure are yummy, though. i’m going to pick some tomorrow!

  11. I’ve been picking and eating morels for many years and I have never had any reaction to mixing well cooked morels with wine or any alcohol. I made a great chicken, morel fetticine and fed it to the sailing club with a lot of good huckleberry hooch and not a soul got sick. We were all sailing the next day in a race. There was no projectile vomiting or complaints. I suggest that when picking morels make sure that the morel has a hollow center. If the mushroom branches out like a tree when you cut it open then it is a false morel and not a true morel. Look it up on the internet, they have some great pictures that show the difference. Mushroom are gooooood eats.

  12. The New West should update this article with the article from yesterday’s Idaho Statesman.

  13. Last night I had some morels (re-hydrated and cooked) over a burger with some wine. All four of us ate and drank the same thing. I got really sick about 1.5 hours after eating and had to vomit a few times. The other three people did not get sick at all. I guess maybe I am more susceptible to morel poisoning … that sucks. I have not really had this problem in the past, but I usually drink beer. Maybe the morels were not cooked fully, and with the addition of wine ????

  14. The burned-over forest land from the terrible fires in Northern California are starting to produce morels. We gathered up a big sack and enjoyed a dinner with sauteed morels. I dried the rest and popped a little piece of dried morel into my mouth. I got very ill within half an hour–impressive vometing, indeed.

  15. mushroom eater

    “Do not drink and eat morels, cook them to death, and reject the dried kind.”

    This line quoted from the article is pure fiction. Literally hundreds of thousands of pounds of dried morels are consumed yearly the world over. Whoever wrote this has no idea what they are talking about. The Idaho Statesman has evel less of a clue as to the facts surrounding edible mushrooms. I have personally cooked dried morels while drinking many, many times. Pure Fiction, check your facts a bit better in the future please.

  16. To mushroom eater: I think they were talking about eating raw dried mushrooms, as the poster prior to you had done…

    Dried or not, if you cook them well, you should be good.

  17. mushroom eater

    The article actually reads “reject the dried kind” and makes no mention of raw in the statement.

    ANY mushroom of ANY variety contains mycoprotien that can’t be digested by humans when eaten raw. Not to mention the real possibility of food poisioning from eating uncooked wild food.

    Anybody who writes an article claiming a common food to be poisionous should be able to name the poisionous compound. The author of this article didn’t and can’t do that because there is no poisionous compound in morels. However raw morels like any mushroom can upset the stomach when eaten raw due to the fact that they are undigestable.

    I respectfully ask the author to check thier facts beyond what the Rocky Mountain Poison and Drug Center spokeswoman says. Her follow up letter to the editor printed in the Idaho Statesman just after this article ran was full of additional laughable mushroom “facts”.

  18. Allergy prone mushroom lover

    I have food allergies, and must be careful. But I love wild mushrooms, especially morels. Nonetheless, about 30 years ago I got seriously ill after eating a few morels. How is this for impressive vomiting? Vomited pure red blood because I must have burst a little artery in my stomach lining. This event was not easily forgotten, and never happened before or since.

    I have had morels quite a few times since, sometimes with no ill effects and sometime feel a little queezy, but always with white wine.

    Last night I had three impeccible fresh morels, very well cooked. Delicious. They absolutely were morels. A nice white wine to go with them.

    Two hours later, I was very ill. There is simply no other reason to account for this. I have a stomach of iron. This event is what brought me to the Internet, looking for an explanation.

    I conclude that I do have some sort of sensitivity to these wonderful mushrooms and will be careful in the future, but not give them up entirely unless it gets worse. For those who eat tons of these, enjoy yourselves. You are built to tolerate them. Some of us are not. Shrimp can kill me. Now I must watch out for mushrooms too. Sad, but there are worse things.

  19. I used to eat morels by the panfull,then started getting violently sick so I’ve had to give up on them completely.

  20. I have gotten mildly sick the last three times I’ve eaten morels. I’ve always cooked them well. Granted, I’m a slow learner, but has anyone else suffered GI pains several hours after eating cooked morels?

  21. By the way, I didn’t consume alcohol with the morels that made me sick.

  22. Richard, anyone can have an allergic reaction to any food. There is a big difference between an allergic reaction and poisonous reaction. This article suggests poisioning could come from eating the “dried kind” or from combining morel mushrooms and alcohol, of course the author and sources lack the ability or knowledge to name ANY poisonous coumpound. Regardless of this article and it’s ignorant statements, drying mushrooms does not change their chemical structure.

  23. By Jill Kuraitis, 6-30-08

    “The photo is a real morel, and the Rocky Mountain Poison and Drug Center confirms the poisonings were not from “false morels.” I relied on science, not conjecture.”

    The photo in the picture is a morel however it didn’t need the “ugly” tag that was applied. Also, The Rocky Mountain Poison and Drug center employees no one who has knowledge or training when it comes to identifing mushrooms, eating mushrooms, or mushroom poisons.

  24. All wild mushrooms make me violently ill. Vomitnig, diarhea, cramping, etc. My family and friends can eat them and I try the same dish and voila. I can eat portabellas and buttons, just nothing wild. Even if I eat a sauce and pick out the mushrooms same result. As I child I ddin’t have the intense cramping but would just throw them up. It has gotten worse as I have gotten older. For whatever reason they are not meant for me…..

  25. I, too, get sick several hours after eating morels. And we just found out that my seven year old son gets sick from them, too. My husband and my other son can eat as many of the same morels as they want with no ill effects.

  26. matt, wisconsin

    ate 2 morels,sauteed 8-10 min, 4 pm yesterday. at 11:30 the abdominal pain started and by midnight had the most wicked diahrea you could imagine. pain was beyond intense and lasted almost 8 hours. no alcohol at least 72 hours before eating these. this was the first time i’ve tempted fate since i last ate them 3 years ago. had alcohol with them then and wound up in the ER, worst night of my life!!! so i guess im done eating another one of my favorite foods, along with king crab, which has the exact same effect on me. i should note that i never vomitted from the shrooms or the crab.