I don’t consider myself an enthusiastic Mushroom Hunter. However, there are a few varieties that are easily identified – even to the not-so-trained eye. One of these is the Giant Puffball Mushroom. This post gives some basic pointers about how to identify a Giant Puffball. I also show you 1 of many ways to prepare and eat it.
Right off the bat, Giant Puffball mushrooms are pretty hard to miss in the wild. Their season is FALL – usually around September & October. They are the only mushroom/plant I know of that looks like white volleyballs in the midst of a natural setting. Trust me, if there are Giant Puffball mushrooms nearby – you will see them. I must add that there are a few poisonous look-a-likes – but they do not get to be large volleyball size. My rule of thumb is to only collects puffballs that are at least the size of a volleyball.
Besides it’s unique size and shape, any Giant Puffball you collect should be PURE WHITE – INSIDE AND OUT. If it is discolored in any way – skip it. The inside should resemble TOFU – see detailed pics a little later in the post. In maturity, the inside of the puff ball turns greenish and then eventually into a huge bag of green spores. I rarely just find 1 loner Giant Puffball. As you can see in the pics, they normally pop up in little communities. This is because the spores tend to fall and germinate around the previous season’s puffballs.
Just 1 Giant Puffball can easily serve 4 people. I typically collect them in a paper bag and then just wash the exterior under the sink. Then, for simplicity sake I just square-cut the edges off. You can peel it to yield more flesh if you want. I never eat the outer peel – just the inner milky-white ‘meat’. Notice how solid and white the inside is below.
Then, I simply take the inside ‘meat square’ and slice it into 1/2 inch slices. This is a crazy freakin’ mushroom if you’ve never done this. It’s a huge chunk of edible mass and really pretty amazing.
My favorite way to prepare Giant Puffball is to dip these slices in a wash/batter and fry them in a little bit of olive oil. Don’t use too much oil because these babies are like sponges. For the batter, I keep it pretty simple – just 2 steps.
- STEP 1: Dip slice in a wash of a little milk, a little egg, salt & pepper.
- STEP 2: Lightly coat in flour, cornmeal, waffle mix, etc…
It doesn’t take long – just a couple minutes. I fry until golden brown and then toss them on a paper towel to drain a bit.
I then normally salt and pepper to taste and add some grated Parmesan cheese.
The Giant Puffball has a very unique flavor and texture. Don’t miss out on one of natures most unique (and easily spotted) wild edibles.
You never know when knowing how to identify and prepare a wild edible might come in handy. We may not always live in an economy when food is so readily available on every street corner. Self-sufficiency is all about pulling from a huge bag of tricks, skills and resources. The ability to hunt and gather from the wild is certainly a skill-set worth investing in. My preparedness strategy is to become well-rounded in a huge variety of preparedness skills – even the ones that aren’t so fun and glamorous. Sure, I’d rather be shooting guns and playing with new survival gadgets than experimenting with cooking mushrooms but ANY survival skill-set is worth my time and effort.
Remember, it’s not IF but WHEN,