Saturday, November 9, 2013

Another wild edible find! Puffball mushrooms!

Yesterday my husband told me he found these giant ball things in the woods; initially he thought they were rocks but was surprised to find out they were light and squishable.  When he described them to me, I said, "oooooooh puffballs!!!  If you see them tomorrow, pick 'em up!!"

So here today, we now have two large puffball mushrooms:

So what to do with puffballs?  First, you need to determine if they are edible.  If they are squishy or smell bad, pass them by; they are too old and will be inedible.  If they are firm, cut them in half.  The inside will look like foam or a marshmallow - you want to see white.  Also, when cutting them in half, look carefully to see if there's what looks like to be another mushroom inside of it - definitely toss that one out!!  That one is poisonous. Now, if the inside flesh is yellow or green or brown, toss it out, it's too old.  The inside flesh should be firm, like foam, too, and should bounce back after being touched.  If it leaves an impression, like memory foam, it's too old, toss it out. 

The puffball on the right, the bigger, more brown one, was too old.  It was squishy and green/brown in the center.  It got dispersed into the yard in hopes some may grow next year.  The smaller puffball on the left was just about perfect!  The outer edges were beginning to turn yellow in spots (under the visible indents in the picture)  and were at the point you can still cut that off and have a perfectly good mushroom.  Peel the outer layer off and then slice as you please.

So what do they taste like?  Some say they are mild with almost no flavor, and some say they are very earthy, and some say they have a unique flavor that is hard to describe.  Being as this is the only puffball I've ever eaten, I can only tell you what *this* one tastes like.  In my opinion, it's more of a truffle flavor, less like a mushroom flavor.   Earthy with a hint of an anise-like aftertaste.  Most of the recipes I saw online called sautéing them in butter with salt, pepper, and garlic.  I sliced up the puffball and tried a few slices fried up this way.  I can honestly say I didn't care for that combination.  The anise-like aftertaste just didn't blend well with garlic and butter.  The fried mushroom consistency was like that of French toast though, so that was my next attempt. 

I used an egg, a spoonful of coconut milk, some cinnamon, washed raw sugar, and a wee bit of salt.  Dipped the slices in that and cooked them on a griddle, then topped them with maple syrup - just like French toast.  Now, THAT was pretty tasty!  I still got that earthy taste, but it didn't clash with the rest of the ingredients.  In fact, I'm not sure most people would even know it was a slice of mushroom, and not toast!

I had just finished eating the "Puffball French Toast" when giving my son his lunch.  In his lunch, he had some of a leftover apple/mushroom side dish that had been oven roasted with lamb steaks (recipe in Cavemom's Cooking).  Of course, I ended up eating a little of his lunch, too, and found that those flavors blended well, so I'm looking forward to the next time I make that lamb recipe; I'll try adding the puffball slices to that.

I read that puffballs don't keep well in the fridge, so my choices were either eat it all, dehydrate it, or freeze it. Puffballs are HUGE, so there was no way I was going to eat it all!  For freezing, most said to cook it first.  I'd read the same thing about Morels, but froze mine raw and was very happy with how they thawed, so I froze the leftover puffball slices the same way I froze the Morels - single layer on a cookie rack over a cookie sheet until frozen, then remove and place in an airtight bag.

Want more recipes?  Purchase Cavemom's Cooking on Etsy.

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