I don’t know why it’s taken me so long to get around to doing a post on foraging. I regularly go out for fiddleheads in the spring, as well as young poke and watercress. I grew up on Euell Gibbons classic books “Stalking the Wild Asparagus” and “Stalking the Wild Scallop”, both of which taught me a lot about the things that you can eat from the wild… and what you can’t.
One of the most popular things to forage for are of course wild mushrooms. The taste of morels and chanterelles puts anything from the grocery store to shame.
Anyway, the other day I looked up my side window and saw a large white ball in the grass alongside my driveway. I don’t live where kids can knock a softball up into my yard. Puzzled, I went out to look. What it turned out to be was a giant puffball mushroom. This is one of the few mushrooms that you can find that falls under the category “hard to mistake”. I grabbed it up, and scurried inside in excitement.
IMPORTANT FAQ AND DISCLAIMER:
THERE IS RISK THOUGH! [Don’t try this at home, kiddies] Many edible mushrooms can be very, very hard to differentiate from those that are less than edible, and might be fatally poisonous! Don’t eat it unless you are hundred percent sure!
From the net: “Calvatia [species] are fairly easy to identify as long as you know these mushrooms are in a specific class which have no gills inside, they are just fluff all throughout which later turns itself into its own spores, which then are released with the help of an animal, or human who can’t resist smushing or kicking it, and are dispersed by the wind….. Most Calvatia species are edible as long as the inside is pure white; I am not aware of any that aren’t.”
OK. You’ve been warned. Do your own research and assume your own risk.
At this point I will reveal that I DID survive eating the previous slices the other night. This one was indeed a real “puffball”. [Don’t eat it unless you are hundred percent sure!]
It is shown here already cut in half thru the top, but with several of the larger slices already removed [and consumed!] You can see the soft white flesh that resembles marshmallow both in color and feel. Very delicate and slightly spongy… much more delicate than store bought ones. This is one of the characteristics that make these relatively easy to identify [again…Don’t eat it unless you are hundred percent sure!]
For mine I just dredged the slices in a thin flour wash with a little cornmeal added, and pan-fried them for a couple of minutes on each side until they had browned lightly.
Done this way, I find the taste to be that of a fine, delicate mushroom-cheese omelet… just all-in-one. And, Yes… it was “Gone In 60 Seconds”.
If this interests you, get someone knowledgeable to take you out foraging. There are “mycological societies” [mushroom clubs] all over. They are surprisingly easy to find, and the people are happy to share their expertise. Here in southern Maine, we have people who are actually making a living foraging mushrooms, wild herbs, and exotic greens for the up-and-coming, frou-frou, locally-sourced restaurants. And we are just going into prime mushrooming season here from Aug-Oct. BUT…Don’t eat it unless you are hundred percent sure!