The Real Reason Morel Mushrooms Are So Expensive

The morel mushroom is a prized fungus for their unique structure and subtle earthy flavor (via Specialty Produce). They come in a wide variety of colors and shapes, but one distinctive characteristic is the pitted outside of the mushroom — some say it resembles a honeycomb.

Another thing that sets morels apart from other mushroom varietals is the price tag. Morels can garner a price tag of at least $30 per pound and are often seen for much more (via Michigan State University), especially if they're being shipped (via Northwest Wild Foods).

They're expensive for a number of reasons. First of all, unlike most mushrooms that you buy in the grocery store, even the fancy ones like portobello and oyster mushrooms, morels aren't farmed. However, reports suggest that China is experimenting with farming morels, which is expected to have an impact on the market moving forward, although the jury is still out on their quality and taste (via Untamed Feast). Instead, they're gathered in the wild, and preferably by someone who knows what they're doing since some lookalike species are poisonous (via Encyclopedia Britannica).

How to try morels without breaking the bank

Morels also aren't available year-round, like most mushroom varieties. They have a very short season in the spring and early summer.

They also don't last long once they've been picked. Because they're perishable, they are something of a local delicacy given the fact that it's difficult to ship them. If you are eating them in an area to which they're not native, know that it was likely quite expensive to transport them there, which also contributes to the final price tag.

If you want to try morels at a less outrageous price tag, consider buying them dried (via Amazon). You can rehydrate them in water and use them in the same way that you would use the fresh variety. Although at first glance, they may seem more expensive than fresh morels by weight, it's only because the majority of the weight of fresh morels is from water, which is no longer a contributing to the weight of the dried variety.