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|Food Buzz: History of Mushrooms|
Puffball mushrooms range from small to very large in size, averaging 10-70 centimeters in diameter, and are round, oblong, to oval in shape. Some species are small, golf-ball sized, while others can grow as large as soccer balls. The white fruiting body can be smooth or bear some small scales, warts, or spines and is firm, airy, and spongy. There is also a protective coating that helps keep debris and dirt from entering the flesh. When sliced, the flesh should be pure white and never have any color. Puffball mushrooms are white when young and transition to a yellow-brown when mature and are rendered inedible when they reach this state. There are little to non-existent stems, and the spores are produced internally in the fruiting body. When young, Puffball mushrooms have a mild, nutty, and earthy flavor.
Puffball mushrooms are available in the late summer through fall.
Puffball mushroom is a general term used to describe thirty-two species that are members of the Basidiomycetes family. Most often found in clusters or fairy rings on the ground in grasslands, fields, meadows, or lawns, Puffball mushrooms grow on dead organic matter and are the only mushrooms to fully contain spores inside the fruiting body. One common species, Calvatia gigantia, roughly translates to ‘giant bald head’ and is often referred to as a Giant Puffball. This species is favored by chefs for its large size and mild flavor. These mushrooms are also known for their large size. The largest Puffball to be recorded was over fifty pounds and over one meter in diameter.
Puffball mushrooms contain some phosphorus, manganese, selenium, and clavacin.
Puffball mushrooms are best suited for cooked applications such as sautéing, pan-frying, and baking. Referred to as the “breakfast mushroom,” Puffball mushrooms pair well with egg dishes and are enhanced when sautéed and browned in simple ingredients such as garlic and butter. They can be sliced thinly and rolled with meat and vegetables, chopped into stir-fries, or grilled with marinades. They can also be cut into slices, battered, and fried, sliced and used as noodles in lasagna or ravioli, used as the dough in pizza, chopped into croquettes, blended into hummus, pureed into gravies, or dried and ground into a powder to use as a flavoring agent. The rotund mushrooms can be substituted for tofu or eggplant in many recipes. The flesh readily absorbs accompanying flavors so oil should be used sparingly. Puffball mushrooms pair well with tomatoes, broccoli, beets, rutabagas, radishes, turnips, parmesan cheese, garlic, poultry, scallops, crab meat, and tuna. They do not store well and should be used immediately after harvest. They can also be frozen between sheets of plastic and stored for extended use.
Puffball mushrooms contain trillions of spores that are released into the air when the fruiting body cracks or is disrupted. These spores were traditionally used by Native Americans in the United States as a coagulant to stop bleeding and to help prevent infection. The dried spores were used as a coagulant for both humans and animals.
Puffballs are native to the United Kingdom and North America and have been growing since ancient times. Today they are available in the wild and at farmers markets in the United Kingdom, Canada, and can be found in many regions of the United States except for the gulf coast and the deep south
Recipes that include Puffball Mushrooms. One is easiest, three is harder.
|Forager Chef||Fried Puffball Mushrooms|