Of course not everything that is grown in the countryside is cultivated. We were recently given our annual delivery of giant puffball from our foraging neighbour, which led me to put pen to paper and take a few snaps.
Fungi are good for us and good for the health of the soil in woodlands, fields and orchards. There are those experienced woodsmen and woodswomen that know exactly where to finnd them, amassing a large larder of wild grown delicacies, particularly at this time of year in autumn.
In our own orchard and ever growing log pile, and also the countryside surrounding Plum Tree Farm, there are many treasures to be found - puffballs, mushrooms, toadstools. Mother Nature's natural sculptures poking through carpets of leaves and living off decaying wood. We are very lucky that we have so much fayre close to hand.
Puffballs are an amazing treasure. Sitting round and proud on the ground like an unexpected virginal sculpture it is hard to imagine that this puree white woodland object is a) real and b) edible.
Puffballs are a type of fungus. They harbour trillions of spores in their lovely rotund 'belly', which bursts on impact releasing a high velocity cloud-like puff of millions of spores when disturbed. Their inner flesh is white and can be sliced like bread or scooped out to create a void to fill. As they mature they turn brown and not advised to eat when this colour.
They can range from the size of a golf ball to a large watermelon and feed off dead and decaying matter. Nestled amongst wood, grass and leaves they are a sight to behold. Easy to spot, easy to identify and easy to cook - they are particularly delicious sliced and grilled or try our neighbours Langermannia Gigantea recipe.
There have been many uses for puffballs over he centuries from clotting blood in large wounds, making ink and anaesthetising honey bees as a means to safely procure honey. Today we only admire and eat them.
There are also a wealth of toadstools and mushrooms but my moto here is to approach with caution! Travelling and sourcing edible delights in the hedgerows and woodlands of England is a skill. Most novices, myself included, are fearful of trying.