A puffball is a magical thing to find in the wild. It erupts out of the ground and hides under tall grasses. It sneaks in plain sight! I have seen these in my life but had never known what they were...and almost always I was finding them when they had long since expired. They had turned black and emitted the poisonous spores in a small puff when you touched them.
Back in 2005, we saw a young girl running down the street in Verona with the most enormous puffball mushroom I had ever seen! Hubbie stopped the girl and it must have seen strange that a tall skinny man with long hair and a beard asked her what she was going to do with it. Her answer seemed perfectly logical to a child...she was going to smash it! Hubbie offered her money to give it to us instead of smashing...she of course had to run home to ask her mom if that was alright. We brought it to our Jack and Jill that night and someone in attendance told us we could get $500 at the St Lawrence Market for it!
|4 yr old Noah in 2005 with THE biggest puffball we've ever seen!|
We just like to eat them! A mushroom that large though would take a room full of people to eat. It turned bad before we could eat even half of it. We did through it in the swamp behind our old house hoping it would let out spores and make new ones...we never did see if that turned out or not.
This year were are on the hunt for puffballs again. Its the right time of year for these pearly white beauties.
Puffballs (Calvatia gigantea) are wonderful wild pickings as there are virtually no poisonous lookalikes. I will not pick a mushroom (I'm just not schooled enough yet)...but I am confident in my puffball identification to know one when I see one.
They range in size...I've seen little golf-ball sized ones on our lawn. I've also seen ones the size of basketballs! They are round-like objects that are weighty. When cut through, the puffball looks like a button mushroom but without the black parts. Just bright white flesh throughout. They smell like a store bought mushroom...but a bit earthier.
For a more in depth look at the puffball mushroom...click on the link below:
I was showing Hubbie the recipe for Puffball Piccata that was posted on The 3 Forager's blog. I was glad I showed him....he called me at work the next day to tell me he'd found a puffball on the way home!
If a puffball is starting to turn yellow...don't bother picking it...it's already past its prime. Bright white is what you want to look for!
This one was fist sized...so it made for a great side dish that night.
Sliced about a centimeter thick...or half an inch for my american readers. Dust in flour and simmer in a pan or flat grill until golden brown. These suckers are thirsty, so you'll need a good helping of veg oil.
Add butter and veg stock to the drippings. (We didn't have any wine though...I wished we did. The recipe would have been AMAZING!) We added milkweed capers to the mixture and simmered it down to a nice sauce. Salty!
For the full recipe, click here on The 3 Foragers link (where we originally got the recipe)
In the end, we had mild italian sausages with a spinach salad and puffball picata for dinner. Good eyes on Hubbie for spotting the puffball! We were lucky enough to trade with Local Veronite Joe for some wild grape wine. A great compliment to this wild meal!
Noah (shown here at his current age of 10 yrs old) tries the puffball, but it was a little too mushroomy for his tastes.
I, on the other hand, dug right in. These are definitely a seasonal item. They only come once a year and you have to get your fill while they are in season. We've eaten them fried in butter or prepared a la Parmesan with breading and tomato sauce. The Puffball parmesan tastes a bit like veal to me. Hubbie thinks I'm crazy.
Have you ever foraged mushrooms? Tell me about it in the comments section...