Thursday, 17 September 2009
Giant Puffball Mushrooms
Look what Mr. Ferdzy found in the lawn! No, it's not a zombie brain. It's a giant puffball! As usual with pretty much everything in the garden, the deer found it first and took a nibble but for once they left enough for us. I hustled it into the kitchen, licking my chops. There are very few wild mushrooms I feel confident enough about absolutely accurate identification to eat, but this is one of them. They're big and roundish, they're smooth although they may have "craters" (and the top may split a bit), and when you cut them in half they are solid white throughout. If it isn't solid white, it is either something else, or past the period in which you would wish to eat it. On the other hand, there just isn't anything else out there that fits this description.
The skin, though smooth, is a bit leathery and should be peeled off, along with any discoloured or damaged spots. Check for bugs; as with most good-tasting plants you aren't the only one who wants to eat it. Then slice the mushrooms about a centimetre (half an inch) thick and fry them. You can dip them in batter first, or not. Beaten egg and breadcrumbs are a popular option. They are quite mild, although with a most definite subtle and lingering mushroom flavour, so it is best not to overwhelm them with too many other strong flavours. Still, with their solid white flesh and gentle flavour they are very versatile and can be used in most dishes where you would use button mushrooms. Once sliced and fried, they have a texture not unlike that of tofu.
I dipped mine in a batter of egg and rice flour then pan-fried the slices in a little oil. Delicious. At least, I thought so. Mr. Ferdzy was underwhelmed; he thought they were dull. However, we found another two after this one. One of them went to a pot-luck, where it was simply fried in butter and subsequently it disappeared quite quickly.