Forty-two pounds of edible fungus

Forty-two pounds of edible fungus
In the wilderness a-growin’
Saved the settlers from starvation.
Helped the founding of this nation.

Homer Price, Robert McCloskey

Funny how I can still recite this chorus from Homer Price.  I’ve forgotten the story now, but the chorus burrowed its way into long term memory.  Actually I’m surprised that I haven’t reread the story to my kids.  I believe I’ve ready every other Robert McCloskey book to them.  One Morning in Maine is my favorite; Blueberries for Sal is theirs.

One subject for which I feel profound ignorance is mushroom identification.  Walking in the woods this afternoon while checking the pigs, I found fungi with a wide assortment of colors and shapes in a variety of habitats.  I’ll admit that I’m not as interested in gathering a large body of taxonomic information as much as I’d like to be able to safely identify edible fungus.

I found a half dozen puffballs in a field that had been mown for hay about two weeks before.  I'm not sure if this is just coincidence, but I usually only find puffballs in recently disturbed fields (either mowing or grazing).

Not forty-two pounds, but I found a half dozen medium and small puffballs in a field that had been mown for hay about two weeks previously. I’m not sure if this is just coincidence, but I’ve only found puffballs in recently mowed or grazed fields .

My mycological repertoire includes only one edible mushroom:  the puffball.  I believe that in some parts of the world there are inedible look-alikes, but around here the puffball is unique and impossible to confuse so it is a good rookie mushroom.

This is the monster puffball I found last year.  Last year's mushroom came in a few weeks earlier, but perhaps that is due to the extended run of warm weather we've experienced recently.

Here is last year’s puffball, the biggest I’ve found.

Gastronomically, the puffball is not a standout.  It is fluffy and absorbent, with a definite mushroom odor but very little flavor.  I’m not aware of any preparation that doesn’t involve first browning in oil.  The puffball is something I eat because I like the idea of foraging my own mushrooms, not because it is great.  It isn’t bad, it’s just not too exciting.  Like tofu.  No, I take that back.  Better than tofu.  Tofu is something you eat only if you have a grudge against meat.

Last night's midnight snack.  I browned the puffball cubes in hot lard along with onions, garlic, cayenne powder and corriander, then I scrambled in a few eggs.  This morning I did the same thing, only adding in some fresh bell peppers and cayennes from the garden.

Last night’s midnight snack. I browned the puffball cubes in hot lard along with onions, garlic, cayenne powder and coriander, then I scrambled in a few eggs. This morning I did the same thing, only adding in some fresh bell peppers and cayennes from the garden.

3 Comments on “Forty-two pounds of edible fungus

  1. Pingback: Identify This Fungus | Wrong Direction Farm

  2. Pingback: Fairy Rings | Wrong Direction Farm

  3. That was a big puffball by your chainsaw! Perhaps finding them in recently cut fields has to do with the short grass? I’d have a hard time finding one even as huge as the big guy in your photo without a little help from the cows or machinery to make it more visible.

    I loved you closing line to this post. Too true, too true.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: