Monday, June 29, 2009

Giant Puffballs

The other day, we were over visiting Pat and Jack's place. They are our friends who decided to adopt little Willie (the goat in the sweater). It didn't take much convincing. All we had to do was let them bottle feed him as a baby one time.

They live in a beautiful isolated log cabin in the woods that Jack made himself after their original home burned down.

Jack said, "Hey do you guys like puffballs?"

I said, "I do, but Deb won't eat 'em."

"Boy there's a dandy one over under that tree."

So we sauntered over through the veil of mosquitoes, and sure enough, there was a giant puffball about the size of a soccer ball just as white and prime for the pickin' as I've ever seen.

"Wow. She's a beauty. Aren't you guys going to eat it?"

"Naw. Pat thinks they're poison."

"Poison? They're only poison if you season them with cyanide in the fryin' pan. Heck. If you don't want it. I'll take it."

"Be my guest. There's another one up in the garden that Pat picked a few days ago and is using it for a decoration. Take it, too."

So, loving to partake of the bounties of nature, as I always do, I picked up both puffballs, gently laid them in the bed of the truck and headed down the drive. As we were departing, I heard Pat shouting after us, "You're gonna die!"

Well, let me tell you. Here's how to prepare them without fear of dying.

Puffballs don't store well fresh, so you should get them cooked as soon as you can. First you peel the rubbery skin off. Brush the loose dirt off, but don't wash them. If water gets inside, they'll get mushy. They should be as white as a marshmallow. You can see that the one that Pat picked earlier was starting to turn yellow on the surface. I discard any part that's not white. Then you slice them and dice them into 3/4 inch cubes.

And saute them in butter and bacon grease. They will shrink down to about half the size, like any fresh mushroom. One giant puffball makes a big batch, so you can freeze the cooked cubes in a freezer bag for use in anything that you would normally use button mushrooms in.

Let me tell you. If you've never eaten puffball mushrooms, you're not missing much. It's about like eating tofu. They'll take on whatever flavor you are cooking them in. But heck. You've gotta do it at least once in your life so you can say you're cool!


  1. O.K. I stand corrected too. Good to know.

  2. Mr.OGE, I hope all is well over on the farm. I have a question. How can you identify a real Puffball (that must not be the real name, right)? I am always afraid I will accidentally kill myself or my family if I serve wild mushrooms...sigh...I have often seen what looks like a puffball here in Puerto Rico. And they look fresh and healthy...but the fear gets in the way---

    Btw...isn't Puffball a great name for that little Willie goat? Love the sweater! It's hot here though...does he really need a sweater or is this an older winter photo? (That last photo could be a snowman!)

    Won't you visit me over at Oasis Writing Link? I would love to read your comment. <3

  3. Now I was picturing one of those wild dandelion things not a mushroom. Heh heh. I eat them all the time...but I am, afterall, a goat.

  4. OMG--that sucker is huge! I am always hesitant to eat anything that looks like a mushroom without being told it is alright, from an expert. Hey, I need to take one of those classes were you walk the woods with the expert and learn to identify. I hate being sick but love mushrooms. I think I could work this one out!

  5. This is another great post. How do I link it to my blog I would like to share it with my friends? Thanks peace

  6. Even after getting the top grade of my class in Mycology I still wont eat mushrooms from the wild. It freaks me out for some reason. In CA too many nut jobs go and pick mushrooms and destroy their liver and die or have to have transplants.

    But that one you have is definitely impressive. I have never seen one that large ever. And you read my mind with the tofu! That is all I could think when I looked in the pot.

    Happy eating!

  7. Are you sure you're not "gonna die?" Seriously, I had no idea whatsoever that you could eat those things. The puffballs here aren't very large and usually the only purpose I put them to is a bit of entertainment. I make sure they don't get disturbed until they are really dry then love to go out and stomp on them to see the "puff".

    (OK....just realized I need to get off the farm a bit more often, huh?

  8. lakeviewer: I'm glad that you stand corrected. My wife usually feels that I could stand correcting.

    Cynthia: There are lots of different kinds of puffballs (Genera: Calvatia, Calbovista, and Lycoperdon), and I don't know what grows in PR. There are only two kinds of wild mushrooms that I eat with any confidence: the giant puffballs that grow in the Midwest, and morels. I can't recommend that you try yours.
    And little white Willie still maintains his childish figure, but believe you me, when adults, these little goats can blow up like a puffball. They'll eat themselves silly.
    The sweater picture was definitely a winter photo, and for the sake of diplomacy, I'll leave it to my wife to tell you whether the poor goat's humiliation was a fair trade for putting up with a sweater.
    I'll be stopping by OWL real soon and often.

    Pricilla: Did you know that you could make your fortune in the suburbs trimming dandelion blossoms from those well kept burb turfs?

    Sandy: A walk in the woods with an expert is always nice, but what I recommend is getting a couple of horses and starting your own much more reliable and identifiable cultures raised on the ubiquitous daily horse byproducts. They do that commercially, you know.

    Rural rose: This link should give you the way to do it:
    I also like to use the sidebar Blog List configured to show the blogs most currently updated. Thanks for offering to share.

    Julia: I know what you're talking about. I only eat the ones I grew up eating. Personally, my Parasitology class almost did me in for eating anything the rest of my life.

    Pamela: Yeah, the ripe ones are fun, too. The stomp explosion is one way to have fun. I also like to wait until they open their little hole in the top and ever so gently tap the sides and make smoke rings and smoke signals. Heck, I say stay on the farm. It keeps you feeling young! (Except in haying season.)

  9. P.S.: Just found a baby cria out with mom in the pasture.... finally.

  10. We used to "drop-kick" these on our old farm. Sorry. We're just not mushroom eaters. We didn't know they were edible.

  11. I just love mushrooms and these look so fleshy, meaty even. We get many toadstools in our garden though and they look pretty freaky.

  12. Well, I can honestly say I've never eaten a puffball. Or seen one like that before, either, for that matter. I'm guessing the flavour is really in the bacon grease though....

    I think Jack & Pat NEED a goat in their little log cabin neck of the woods. I mean, isn't it a requirement or something? That little fellow sure looks cute. And, he clearly knows how to work a crowd. ;o)

  13. I love your sense of humor in your post, you've got to be a hoot to hang out with.

  14. Very funny OGE! I could be talked into trying it, probably...however I'm going to have to check back to your blog in about three days to see if you're still blogging!!! Ha Ha!

  15. Hi OGE, great post. Like most people I'm a wimp when it comes to mushrooms in the wild. I guess it's all a question of confidence and knowledge too of course! (-:

  16. So, you didn't die, right?

    I've never seem mushrooms like these. They probably don't grow in Georgia. I guess that means we'll just stick with tofu for the effect.

  17. Sue: The average mature specimen of giant puffball contains 7 trillion spores. Your technique far surpasses mine for propagation of the species. If it weren't for people like you, I guess I'd just have to go hungry.

    Mervat: Freaky, you bet. Did you know that "toad stools" was the Anglicized version of the German "tot stuhl", or death seat?

    Carolynn: That is exactly the purpose of the bacon grease. For a more natural flavor, you could mix in cardboard. And you'll be happy to learn that Willie is now happily residing at Pat and Jack's cabin in the woods.

    Maria: Humor? You should know that every farmer needs a good sense of humus.

    Eve: It's July 2 still, but I feel like I'm starting to fade.... fading... .. . please stay tuned.

    Jenny: I don't know about confidence and knowledge, but I am very curious. You'd be surprised to see what I touch to my tongue out of curiosity as I walk through the woods and gardens.

    Beth: You know, I just have to live with what I find up here. Unlike Georgia, northern Wisconsin doesn't seem to have any tofu trees.

  18. OK I am with your wife in regards to the puffballs. Can't get past it. It's like eating runny uncooked eggs. Can't get it past the spincter. Comes back up. I'll take the goat and make him an indoor pet. At least try. lol. Do goats guard property ?

  19. I too, thought they were poisenous. So, I will give them a try next time I see one. Loved your puff ball man.

  20. Love that last photo. I'm not a big fan of mushrooms in general (though I'm getting better). I am a fan of that goat in the sweater though. Makes me smile every time I visit your blog. Which I'll be doing more often now since I'm finally getting around to following back those who follow my blog.

  21. That is exactly the purpose of the bacon grease.
    Getting a Payday advance is just a few steps away

  22. This simple recipe made me feel hungry. The oil of bacon will definitely put some smoked flavor into that puffball, and the flavor of bacon goes well with butter. That will definitely send fireworks to your tastebuds. And this can also be a stress-free recipe because of its combination of flavors.