A GIANT puffball mushroom stunned pub chef Dean Majors when he saw it in Halifax Borough Market.
He snapped up the huge white fungus to serve at a steak night held at town centre pub Dirty Dick’s this week.
“All our suppliers are in the market and I popped into the butcher’s and then saw this,” said Mr Majors.
“I was gobsmacked when I saw it and just had to have it.”
It measures 18in wide and weighs around 10lb and was found in a field in Shelf owned by fruit and veg stallholder Philip Crossley.
He said his late father Max, who died last year, spread puffball mushroom spores around 20 years ago and nothing happened until now.
“I thought I’d seen a couple of bags in the field until I went over to it,” said Mr Crossley.
He believes warm, wet weather had been a factor in puffballs appearing this year – he has sold another large puffball at £1 a slice.
“Either that, or old Max has come back to haunt me!” he joked.
Mr Majors paid £10 for the giant, which has now been pan fried in garlic.
“It would have grown in a couple of weeks from nothing and if it wasn’t picked it would have erupted,” said Mr Majors.
The pub is donating £1 from every meal served with the puffball to Overgate Hospice, Elland, and Mr Crossley is donating his puffball proceeds to the Maurice Jagger Centre, Halifax.
The Latin name for the giant puffball is Calvatia gigantea. An older term, Langermannia gigantea, is no longer used.
Giant puffballs are more likely found in meadows and grasslands.
They typically grow between four to 27 inches and one of the largest specimens on record was 59 inches.
Young giant puffballs have a white, fleshy interior. They become brown and discolored when past their prime and ready to release spores.
They are also not edible at this stage.
The exterior of the mushroom will eventually crack to release spores. This process is usually hurried along by weather, animals and humans.