Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Wild Mushrooms for Dinner: Giant Puffball Pizza

We are not among the lucky few who often find giant puffballs (Calvatia gigantea) in the area, usually finding the little pear-shaped ones on wood (Lycoperdon pyriforme), the gem studded ones on the ground (Lycoperdon perlatum), or the medium sized skull shaped ones on the ground (Calvatia craniiformis). When I spotted this giant puffball, I thought it was a forgotten volleyball, it was about 8" wide. Robert grabbed it and brought it home for dinner, thinking we might try a pizza or maybe a lasagna.

Poison Pigskin Puffball, NOT EDIBLE!
It is imperative that edible puffballs are completely white when sliced open. If you see any hint of color, it means it is too old, the spores have begun to mature and it is no longer edible. At an even more mature stage, kids will kick puffballs around to see them "puff" out their spores in a big cloud. The poison pigskin puffball is usually deep purple or black when sliced open and while it won't kill you it will make you quite sick. Some very immature Amanita eggs can look like buried puffballs, but once sliced open, you will see the outline of the mushroom and realize it is an Amanita. 

Amanita Egg, NOT EDIBLE!

This puffball was firm and white, like a brick of extra firm tofu. Just like tofu, puffballs can be bland, but can also soak up whatever flavor you give to them. I gently sprayed some 1" thick slices with olive oil spray and grilled them up on the George Forman grill, and they smelled wonderfully nutty. Those slices then became the "crust" for a really simple pizza with some red sauce and cheese. Other grilled slices went into a lasagna as the "noodles", and smaller bits were coated with a light batter and deep fried. Sometimes the outer skin can be a bit tough or dirty and it can be cut off before the interior is sliced up. A giant puffball can provide a lot of food for a single mushroom!

Giant Puffball, about 8" wide
Small Pear shaped Puffballs on a log, each is only about 1" wide

1 comment:

Pamela said...

WOW, finally...a puffball recipe that might just get my husband and reticent friends to try it! :-) Thank you. Great pictures and information. Love your blog.