Morels are edible mushrooms appreciated worldwide for their savory flavor. Morels have been in use in traditional medicine for centuries, due to their health-related benefits, and current research demonstrated their anti-oxidative and anti-inflammatory bioactivities, in addition to immunostimulatory and anti-tumor properties. In spite of the high demand for morels and their increasing economic importance, their cultivation is limited, and they are either used as wild harvested or fermented in culture, for consumption as a functional food and for food-flavoring. Morel's health benefits were attributed mainly to polysaccharides as the active compounds, and to various phytochemicals, mainly phenolic compounds, tocopherols, ascorbic acid and vitamin D. Morel's nutritional composition was reported, including sugar, amino acid, fatty and organic acid and mineral profile. Information regarding Morel's flavor is limited, and while some of their taste attributes have been described, including the role of umami taste, details about their volatile aroma profile are scarce, and it was reported to include eight carbon volatiles, the main aroma volatiles typical to most mushrooms. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first review presenting morels' nutritional and phytochemical composition, health benefits and flavor, and we will review the available information in current literature regarding these aspects in light of morels phenotypic plasticity.
Keywords: Aroma; flavor; health; morchella; morel; nutritional composition; phytochemicals; taste.