Bizarre Foods Monday: Western Giant Puffball
This weekend I went mushroom hunting for the first time and we got a huge bounty. I was working from a mushroom identification book at first, but it quickly turned into pick as many varieties as you can and check them out when we get back to the house. We got a ton of varieties and it looks like about half were edible.
One of the most obvious to identify was the Western Giant Puffball, so it’s the one I felt comfortable eating without getting a more experienced picker’s opinion.
It’s almost as big as my head! I was curious to see what I’d find since puffballs as a child were something to poof spore dust out of for entertainment.
I was surprised when the inside looked like mozzarella. To cook these babies, you need to peel off the outer inch or so and the flesh inside needs to be white and firm throughout. You should also be checking for bugs and worms. A fresh mushroom will be free of bugs and look unblemished and healthy inside. The outer layers can cause stomach upset if they aren’t removed. I opted to cook mine as mushroom steaks with butter and garlic salt but they lend themselves well to omlets, frying and mushroom soups.
The texture is similar to eggs or an omelet, soft and almost creamy but the flavor is unparallelled by any other mushrooms I’ve tried. It’s mild, sweet and earthy but takes on the flavors around it nicely. It’s been a few hours and I haven’t died, so I’m pretty sure this one is safe.
Next trip, I’m after some Boletes I saw that bruised blue. I assumed they were toxic because of the bluing, but I’m told that they’re actually quite tasty.