Large and puffy, puffball mushrooms are not your average mushroom. You likely won’t find them in your local grocery store. So, can you eat them?
Puffball mushrooms are in fact edible. They’re used in many recipes, and even have some pretty impressive medicinal benefits! However, there are some things that you have to watch out for.
The rest of this article will help you safely consume and cook puffball mushrooms.
Are Puffball Mushrooms Safe to Eat?
Overall, puffball mushrooms are safe to eat, and many people cook and consume them regularly. But before you dive into the world of puffball mushrooms, there are some important things to know about finding ones that are safe.
These large mushrooms are only safe to eat for a certain period of time, and don’t forget to keep an eye out for imposters. Some mushrooms look like puffballs, but aren’t actually the real thing.
You might know puffball mushrooms from wandering through the woods in your childhood. If you kick a fully mature puffball, it’ll burst and release clouds of smoke. Here’s a rule of thumb to follow when it comes to puffball mushrooms: if it goes up in smoke, don’t eat it.
So how do you know which ones you can eat?
How to Know if a Puffball Mushroom is Safe to Eat
You now know that you can in fact eat puffball mushrooms. But how do you know which ones are safe to consume? It’s actually quite simple.
The first thing to do is take note of the outside of the mushroom. Puffballs are white, round, and don’t have a cap or gills (gills are narrow ridges found under the cap or in the tissue). If it passes the first visal check, the next thing to do is cut it in half.
The inside of an edible puffball mushroom should be white, thick, and solid. If the inside is any other color, such as brown or yellow, get rid of it. Matured puffballs, which are brown, soft, and may have yellow/green coloring in the middle, are also not edible.
If the mushroom is not solid white on the inside, it’s not a real puffball and should not be consumed. Several types of mushrooms, such as Earthball and Amanita, can resemble puffballs, but can be very dangerous if eaten. This is why it is important to make sure your puffball is actually a puffball.
Where can I find Puffball Mushrooms?
Now that you know how to correctly identify puffball mushrooms that are safe to eat, where can you find them?
Puffball mushrooms are located in Europe and North America and can be found in fields, woods, and near hiking trails. It’s possible that you could find them at a farmers market between August to September, which is when they’re in season, but it’s most likely you’ll have to go looking for them yourself.
Puffballs only grow on the ground, and while they grow wherever their spores land, they have a particular liking for lawns and golf courses.
Unfortunately, growing your own puffballs can be tricky, so you’re better off looking for them than growing them.
How to Cook Puffball Mushrooms
There are a variety of ways to cook and use puffball mushrooms in your cooking. Many people prefer to batter and fry them, but there are other options too! While some people don’t think they have any flavor, if you cook or bake them to a golden brown, you might change your mind.
If you don’t want to use them for their flavor, puffball mushrooms can make a great tofu substitute! Cook it like you would tofu, and suddenly you’ll find yourself with a much better tofu-like ingredient.
Getting into the nitty gritty aspect of the cooking world, when it comes down to preparing puffball mushrooms, peeling them and then slicing and/or cutting them into chunks should do the trick!
Cooking with Puffball Mushrooms (Continued)
Puffball mushrooms can be used in tons of ways, including the ones covered in the previous section. But to make sure you don’t miss out on anything, here are some more!
Puffball mushrooms can be used as a replacement for eggplant, cooked with vegetables, or broiled with a marinade. The mushroom can also be carved out to make a bowl and cooked with other ingredients!
Make sure to store your puffball mushrooms in the fridge to keep them fresh to use, but take note of when you put them in there! Puffball mushrooms only keep for about four or five days, and if you’re planning on holding onto them for longer than that, you’re going to want to freeze them.
Now that you know how to cook puffball mushrooms, here are some recipes to try!
Three Easy Recipes for Puffball Mushrooms
- Classic Fried Puffballs
- Ingredients: puffball mushrooms, Kosher salt, ground black pepper, all-purpose flower, Panko breadcrumbs, eggs, cooking oil
- Total Time: 1 hour and 15 minutes
This is one of the most popular ways to cook and serve puffballs. Simple and tasty, you can use fried puffballs in other recipes or serve them on their own!
- Sauteed Giant Puffball Mushrooms
- Ingredients: puffball mushroom, butter, olive oil, thyme leaves, rosemary, Kosher salt, ground black pepper
- Total Time: 30 – 60 minutes
If you’re not in the mood for something fried, this is the perfect thing to try! You can serve sauteed mushrooms with something else or on their own!
- Puffball Parmiaga
- Ingredients: puffball mushroom, oil, all-purpose flower, salt, pepper, eggs, Parmesan cheese, fine cornmeal, garlic powder, tomato pasta sauce, shredded mozzerella cheese
- Total Time: approximately 1 hour and 30 minutes
An incredible dish to make with something other than eggplant. It’s perfect for a late summer night when you want to try something different!
While they’re not your usual mushroom, puffball mushrooms have many uses in and out of the kitchen, and make an excellent ingredient in your cooking. So, not only are they safe to eat, they make a great addition to your meal!
Hi, I’m John Stephens, chief editor and writer for Totalgardener.com. I’ve been gardening and raising animals for over 15 years starting with a small backyard plot in Northern Virginia where I grew corn, potatoes, squash, and using a high mulch technique called the Ruth Stout Method. I also raised ducks and small mammals for meat and eggs in a movable pen similar to the ones used by Joel Salatin. I later moved to Colorado where I experimented with growing greens using aquaponics inside. I eventually added a microgreens setup and home sprouting operation. I’m excited to share everything I’ve learned plus more from the other local gardening and animal raising experts I know.