Puffballs in Aspic

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Filed under Outdoor Notes

November 6, 2010

Nope, not a recipe, Puffballs in Aspic is the common name of Calostoma cinnabarina, which is fairly common hereabouts in autumn.

Puffballs in Aspic

Puffballs in Aspic, October

Calostoma cinnabarina is originally covered with a red-orange rind, which is covered in jelly. Underneath is the puffball on a cobwebby looking stalk. The puffball is red at first, but fades to yellow and then to white. The opening on the top, where the spores puff out, has reddish-colored lips. By next spring, the entire fruiting body will be a corpse-colored pale white.

Puffballs in Aspic turn white over the winter

Dried out Puffballs in Aspic

The genus Calostoma is part of the stalked puffballs. There are four species, but C. cinnabarina is the only one that is red.

Puffball in Aspic

A single Puffball, note the red-lipped pore at the top

The “in-Aspic” part refers to that nasty slimy goo that covers the puffball. I have to admit, I have the same reaction to food in aspic–disgusting stuff.  One of my guides simply says “of no culinary interest.”

Can I get an “amen”?

On the culinary front, I was disappointed not to find any reference to Calostoma in Captain Charles McIlvaine’s “Thousand American Fungi,” which is one of the seminal mycological treatises for North America. McIlvaine tasted everything (he was known as “ole Ironguts”), and I would have liked to read his thoughts on the edibility of Puffballs in Aspic.

McIlvaine was an interesting character. He was originally from Chester County PA, and later lived and worked in Mt. Gretna. At 22, he was the first commanding officer of the Greble Guards–Company H of the 97th Pennsylvania Volunteers–serving from 1861-63.

Galusha Pennypacker

General Galusha Pennypacker, Photo Courtesy of U.S. Army

The 97th mostly served along the Southern seaboard, protecting forts and sometimes raiding inland. It didn’t see much fighting until after the Captain had returned to civvie world in June of 1863.  It is famous as the regiment of another Pennsylvania notable, Galusha Pennypacker, recipient of the Medal of Honor and the youngest Brigadier General in our history (he was 20), and retired as a Major General.

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2 Responses

  1. Robert Miracle said:

    I just love the internet. I hike with and take picture with my hiking buddies and they let me stop for a minute or two to take a few pictures. One of my hiking friends is also a photographer (Sam Henley). We went hiking together yesterday and got those pictures. I am so lucking to have friend who I can go with who look after me so I won’t get lost as I have Dementia. I live everyday to it’s fullest as I will be degresing with my memory and won’t be able to do this for long.
    I have been doing Nature and wildlife photography for five years now and loved every day I can get out there. You can follow my work on my Web Page http://miraclephotography.smugmug.com. We love what we are doing and will continue as long as I can. I hope to get out west before I get to bad and discover the wild west.
    We live in the upstate of South Carolina and only one hour from the Blue Ridge Mts. Follow me on my webpage and let me know how I am doing.

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