The easy to identify giant puffball lends itself to a breadcrumb coating. This recipe gives it a spicy twist
It is not uncommon to receive congratulations from fellow foragers when you stumble across a giant puffball (Calvatia gigantea). This mushroom is prized for good reason: it is easy to identify, once it gets to a decent size it has no poisonous lookalikes (see our ID guide for more information), and it makes for plentiful and easy eating.
One of the frustrations of foraging can be finding insufficient quantities of a plant or mushroom to make a meal with — especially when foraging responsibly — but this is not a problem when harvesting this football-sized find, which can feed 3-4 people.
It tastes like a mild field or button mushroom, so isn’t a challenge for less adventurous palates, and takes on other flavours well. Giant puffball can be prone to slight external sliminess when cooked. Because of this, it lends itself brilliantly to frying with breadcrumb coatings.
If you’re a fan of a breaded garlic mushroom, this recipe doesn’t stray too far from the classic, but adds a southern fried coating for an extra kick.
When picking giant puffballs, be sure that the centre is still bright white — once it has yellowed, spores have started to form it is no longer safe to eat.
1 x giant puffball (around 24cm diameter)
Approx 1tbsp garlic puree (divided between frying batches)
Olive oil or butter for frying
2 x large eggs
Handful of plain flour
Southern fried coating (ready-made or as below)
Southern fried coating
Pinch of salt
½ tsp turmeric
½ tsp paprika
Pinch of black pepper
1 level tsp dried oregano
½ tsp garlic powder
½ tsp onion powder
Pinch of dried fennel
Pinch of dried rosemary
Slice the puffball into slabs approximately 1.5 inches (3.8cm) thick.
Heat some oil or butter in a frying pan over a medium-hot heat and add some garlic puree.
You will need to cook the puffball in batches until lightly golden on both sides.
Set each batch to one side.
Set out three bowls, place a large handful of plain flour in the first bowl, two beaten eggs in the second bowl and the southern fried breadcrumb mix in the third bowl.
Dip each slice of puffball in each bowl in turn, coating thoroughly.
Once all the puffball slices are coated, return to the pan and fry on both sides until golden
Always stay safe when foraging. You need to be 100% sure of your identification, 100% sure that your foraged item is edible, and 100% sure that you are not allergic to it (it is good practice to always try a small amount of any new food you are consuming). If in doubt, leave it out!