and so it begins!
Last year, which I fondly refer to as The Year of No Tomatoes, was a bonanza mushroom year: chanterelles, black trumpets, honeys, blewitts, you name it. This year, The Year of Bountiful Berries, has been a wash on the mushroom front. Until last night, that is.
We went to Scott & Fred's for dinner, and over cocktails Scott mentioned he'd found clumps of mushrooms at the top of the driveway that he wanted to show me. From the way he described them I was pretty sure they were poisonous pigskin puffballs, just about the only mushroom I've been finding in this hot, dry summer. We walked up the hill, where to my delight we found something quite different.
I THOUGHT I knew what they were, but since THINKING is never enough when it comes to mushrooms, I took them home for proper i.d. Growing in gravel were clumps of gem-studded puffballs...lots of them. Here are a few key points to remember when picking puffballs.
1) Puffballs are only edible when they are totally white inside. Starting to turn dark? Throw it away. The spores are maturing and the puffball is too old to eat.
2) Slice open every puffball. The button stage of some Amanita mushrooms (a genus which is mostly very poisonous) can look much like a puffball on the outside. When sliced open, the outline of the mushroom-to-be is clearly visible inside.
The best way to preserve puffballs (in case you find so many you can't eat them all right away) is to saute them in butter,
Since I promised Scott we'd share the bounty (it's only fair!), that's exactly what I did. After taste-testing a few in the scrambled eggs, of course.