Thursday, September 23, 2010

Puffball Season - My Puffball Assemblage

A puffball is a member of any of a number of groups of fungus in the division Basidiomycota. The puffballs were previously treated as a taxonomic group called the Gasteromycetes or Gasteromycetidae, but they are now known to be a polyphyletic assemblage.
Edibility and identification
While most puffballs are not poisonous, some often look similar to young agarics, especially the deadly Amanitas, such as the Death Cap mushroom. It is for this reason that all puffballs gathered in mushroom hunting should be cut in half lengthwise. Young puffballs in the edible stage have undifferentiated white flesh within; whereas the gills of immature Amanita mushrooms can be seen if they are closely examined.

The giant puffball, Calvatia gigantea reaches a foot or more in diameter, and is difficult to mistake for any other fungus. If collected before spores have formed, while the flesh is still white, it may be cooked as slices fried in butter, with a strong earthy, mushroom flavor.

My Dad often collects puffballs each year, in September usually. Ever since I was a kid I've loved them, and Dad often shares some with us when he finds them..this year was no exception, and my Mom brought a half of a large one over for us.
So, tonite we had puffball for dinner.

There are several ways we've eaten it before. Here is the half of the large one we had before cooking.

The way I cook them is slice them, cut off the outside skin of the puffball, dip them in an egg & milk mixture, coat with flour, and fry in butter. Depending on whether we'll eat them with syrup or just salt and pepper, I season them while they are cooking. (Not so much salt or pepper if they are going to be eaten like french toast, which they do taste like with syrup.)

So, here are some photos of the puffball cooked... plain, and some with syrup... YUMMM!!

This half of a puffball MORE than fed our family tonight, and believe it or not, sometimes there are puffballs that my Dad finds that are more than twice this size!

Puffball season around here is only a couple of weeks ... I remember, as a kid, going out in the woods, and kicking the puffballs, when they are past the time for eating, and the insides were dry, usually there is a cloud of spores that fly out of them when you kick them, and float all over the place.... a real mess, but fun to do as a kid. *L*


Robin Arnold said...

I never knew they were edible! How wonderful. I bet they are very good, especially made this way!

Roberta said...

Robin ... They ARE! I've found recently where some people put cheese on top when frying them, that sounds good also! Next time I'll try that too.