First Day of Fall Puffballs

first-day-of-fall-puffballs

Happy First Day of Autumn, photo by Julie

The spring, summer, is quite a hectic time for people in their lives, but then it comes to autumn, and to winter, and you can’t but help think back to the year that was, and then hopefully looking forward to the year that is approaching.
-Enya

Happy second day of fall everyone. I’m usually pretty good about marking that seasonal stuff, but in my defense, I DID eat some puffballs the day before yesterday and marked a few today.

In case you’re interested in exploring edible, wild mushrooms, the giant puffball is considered one of the “Foolproof Four” – widespread and easy to identify mushrooms. Mushroom Appreciation’s page on Giant Puffball mushrooms has lots of pictures, puffball facts, and identification tips and says (in part):

Giant puffballs are saprotrophs, meaning they feed on dead organic matter. They’re more likely found in meadows and grasslands than in the forest. They are always found growing on the ground rather than up in trees.

Giant puffballs are aptly named. They are usually quite large, reaching soccer ball size or bigger. They usually have a circumference (distance around) of 4 to 30 inches, although larger ones are not uncommon. There is no distinct cap and stem with these mushrooms; instead they exist as just large, white globes. They may not be perfectly round. Giant puffballs are white with firm white flesh inside. If they appear yellowish or brown is means that the mushroom is about to/has gone to spore, and is not edible anymore.

…Correct identification is crucial. If you think you’ve found a giant puffball the first thing to do is cut it open. It should have thick, hard, white flesh inside. Don’t eat anything with a brown, black, purple, or yellow interior. It may be an earthball (Scleroderma citrinum) or some other gastric distress inducing mushroom.

This white flesh should be solid with no gills. If you see any evidence of gills disregard immediately. Some species, including the deadly Amanita, have a “universal veil” of tissue that surrounds the mushroom when young. This can make it look like a puffball.

Inexperienced hunters should check with someone knowledgeable if they think they’ve found a giant puffball. An incorrect guess can kill if it turns out to be an Aminita! Please be careful.

Julie shared the Enya quote above, and she shares a ton of great photos in the Absolute Michigan pool. Check her photo out bigger and get yourself in the spirit of the season with her Fall slideshow!

If you do find a giant puffball, here’s a recipe from the Mycological Society of San Francisco’s excellent page on Puffballs from Hope Miller, coauthor of the book Mushrooms in Color.

  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup flour
  • About 1 pound puffballs, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch slices
  • 1 egg, slightly beaten with 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 4 tablespoons butter or more if needed
  • 2 tablespoons oil or more if needed

Mix the salt with the flour. Dip the mushroom slices in the flour, then in the egg, and last, in the cheese. Melt the butter and oil in a sauté pan or skillet and sauté the mushrooms slowly until golden brown. Drain on paper towels. Serve at once.

OK. I can do that.

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