‘I had my eyes on mushrooms’: Cyclist finds elusive giant puffball near Haines, Alaska


If Liz Landes hadn’t spent so much time looking for mushrooms this year near Haines, Alaska, she might have missed the mycological find of the season.

« I just looked at the grassy slope above me and said, ‘That’s a really weird place for a river rock,’ because there’s a large smooth white object sitting in the middle of the slope. “, she said. .

« I had mushroom eyes on…I couldn’t get past this weird thing without coming back to it. »

It was a rare giant puffball – a round mushroom so big and meaty that those lucky enough to find them often cut them into steaks. Like their smaller counterparts, giant puffballs have a smooth white color inside if they are still fresh enough to eat.

The Landes find weighed between 11 and 13 kilograms, « like an oblong beach ball », she said – the biggest mushroom she had ever foraged.

« I didn’t know they existed here. »

Neither did the other people she spoke to. The reaction from her friends, she said, was « utter disbelief ».

« It was just pushing to the side of the road. It’s amazing. »

Landes found it while biking along the Chilkat River, about 30 kilometers from Haines. It was too many mushrooms to fit in her backpack, so Landes balanced it on one leg for an uncomfortable mile as she rode her bike back to a parking lot where she found someone she knew. to bring him back to town for her.

It was also too many mushrooms for her fridge – she gave about a third of them to a gourmet chef who lives next door.

Since then, she has eaten mushroom stir-fries, mushroom jerky, and mushroom French toast. She mixed it with chocolate mousse and hummus.

Of all those, she said the jerky was the best.

« I wasn’t sure at first, but I wish I had turned all the mushroom into jerky. It was by far my favorite, » she said.

« The possibilities are endless, especially when you have a lot to do. »

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