I was sure I’d found puffballs (Calvatia and Lycoperdon) on yesterday’s hike.
I followed my own rules for identification and edibility. Last night I matched features of the mushrooms with my field guides, notes and trusted sources. Finally, a couple of hours after dinner, I cooked and ate one small piece of what know is edible.
This morning, I ate two more tiny pieces and if I continue to feel fine, lunch will be a sautéed mushroom omelet.
Once again, I have “Wildman” Steve Brill to thank for personally encouraging me to apply my foraging skills to mushrooms – and for posting detailed information on his website.
In the field, I gathered little mushrooms growing out of buried, decaying logs. They were soft and when I broke them open their inner flesh remained white. That was enough to put them in paper bags and take them home. Once I got them out again, I matched their qualities and shapes with my field guides and “Wildman’s” website.
I knew the worst case scenario is that the poisonous look-alike would cause digestive distress, but not death. I also knew that they turn black inside a while after you break them open.
Once I was sure I had pear-shaped puffball (Lycoperdon pyriforme), I looked for recipes. “Wildman” suggested simple preparation, because the mushroom’s flavor is delicate, despite the strong aroma.
Yesterday was one of those rare perfect weather days. With a storm coming, I took advantage of the time for a long hike. I saw a red-tail hawk, fresh coyote scat, nearly walked into a doe and her fawn, and even found a tiny chicken mushroom and a few wild summer greens.
The painted turtles were back on the log; recent rain has cleared the vegetation from the lake surface. I’ll get a little hike in today before the predicted tropical storm arrives.
If the weather forecasts are accurate – heavy rain followed by warm, sunny days – then conditions will be perfect for mushrooms to disseminate their spores. With any luck, I’ll be in the right place and the right time to continue my studies.