I ate a wild mushroom and I lived!
Well, this isn’t the first time I’ve eaten foraged mushrooms or wild mushrooms… I’ve been chanterelle picking in Oregon with my sister, and I’ve purchased foraged chanterelles and honey mushrooms from Southeast Mushroom at the farmers’ market many times, but this is the first time I’ve found an edible wild mushroom myself, identified it, and cooked it. The best part- it came out of my front yard, and there are probably more!
I have been finding these old, dried out puffballs under the mulch in the herb garden for over a year. The herb garden was one of the first sheet mulching mounds and is always full of fungi. I was just joking with my husband a week for so ago that this was one of my most successful crops- it’s too bad we can’t eat them. This photo above is composed of dried out puffballs discovered over two weeks. That white sphere is a lacrosse ball for size reference.
On Monday I found my first young puffball! I was weeding the herb garden and touched something cool and damp and yielding under the mulch. I thought it was maybe a toad burrowed down in the mulch, but when I uncovered it, it was a beautiful white young puffball!
I knew puffballs were edible, but I still had to make sure what I had was actually a puffball mushroom. First I googled (Thank you Green Deane, as usual), then I posted photos on a local garden group, then I took the mushroom to a local mushroom forager for an in-person ID. Michael Adler of the Edible Plant Project confirmed that it was definitely an edible puffball.
I thought the smooth skin meant it was free of worms and bugs, but when I started cutting it up I found that they were hiding under the skin. By the time I trimmed off all the bad spots there wasn’t much left, about enough for one person. This turned out to be fortuitous, since my husband declined to try any, declaring that one of us should be able to drive to the hospital, just in case.
Sliced puffball, sauteed simply in butter with salt and pepper, served with fresh bratwurst cooked in beer with sauerkraut, and roasted cauliflower and home-grown sunchokes tossed with sage and blue cheese. It was all delicious! And I didn’t die!
Now I just have to figure out how to find the puffballs hiding under the mulch while they’re still young enough to eat.