Foraging for an Omelette

Foraging for mushrooms has always adds a little excitement to my walks, you can never be certain of what you may find from one walk to the next. They add flavour and texture to your meal, are useful around camp and have important medicinal uses as well.

 

Common Puffball (Lycoperdon perlatum)

Mushroom foraging can carry with it a certain air of trepidation in the minds of many and rightly so. I’m sure you’ve often asked yourself “Am I picking the right one?” or at least been being mindful of the consequences if you’ve not. This is a little harsh on the mushroom family and it is worth remembering that there are more toxic and poisonous plants in the UK than there are toxic or poisonous mushrooms.

Simply follow the same rules when you are foraging for mushrooms as you would with any other plant, always, always be 100% sure of a correct identification – 99.9% just doesn’t cut it. This also extends to any dead wood that they may be growing on, as they have been known to grow and absorb the toxins from toxic woods.

So where to start, well the best advice when you are starting out is to get yourself on a reputable course with someone that knows what they are doing, this will give you the experience and knowledge to help guide you on what you are looking for. There are also plenty of mushroom clubs that operate on National Trust land that you can join for the day at little to no expense.

Common Puffball Cut all the way through revealing white flesh inside.

Giant Puffball (Calvatia gigantea) Cut in half

As with foraging for plants it’s always worth starting with the ones you are familiar with already and that have no lookalikes. Giant puff balls (when mature) and Jelly ear are both edible, offering good flavour and are very distinctive from anything else. Cramp Balls (when mature) are another one worth looking for, which are great for your fire lighting.

Today though, I’m on the hunt for the Common Puffball. These are again very distinctive, but they have been confused with earth balls in the past, which are not edible. There are some distinct differences which will help with identification between the two. Common Puffballs will be on a definite stem and when cut will be white all the way through when young. Earth balls won’t have either of these two features. The Common Puffball will in addition have little white/brown spines that are easily broken off when touched and a little bump in the centre of the top of the mushroom.

Earth Ball, notice the lack of stem

Earth ball cut in half to reveal dark inner

Once you have collected what you need, being mindful to leave enough for others, the mushroom to spore upon maturity and some for the creatures that rely upon it, then it’s time to put it to good use and enjoy the fruits of your labour. To this end I’m combining it with some ingredients to make a delicious omelette.

Toasting Common Puffball in a pan

Firstly I slice up the Common Puffball and lightly toast in a pan with sliced potatoes, bacon & half an onion. Once they are nearly ready I whisk up 4 eggs and season with salt & pepper.

Omelette cooking, just reduce the heat add the lid and allow to rise until cooked

My tip for omelettes is to then remove all the ingredients from the pan and melt a little butter, before adding the whisked eggs, lower the heat at this point to avoid burning the base of the omelette and then sprinkle the rest of the ingredients evenly over the surface of the omelette, this helps it stop it sticking and burning on the bottom of the pan also. With it on a low heat cover your pan with a lid or a plate if it does not have one and allow is to rise. Once cooked, serve and enjoy.

Fresh Common Puffball omelette served and ready to enjoy

Thank you for taking the time to read the blog, hopefully it has whetted your appetite to get out there and forage for your own omelette. Remember to feel free to join our Facebook banta page and share with us how you got on.

Jay Jenner