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Puffball mushrooms earned their common name as a result of their appearance. They are large and roughly rounded with a smooth (though some species look somewhat scaly), white exterior. Some species are small, golf-ball sized, while others can grow as large as soccer balls. When young their interior is spongy and white, with a texture and flavor similar to tofu, though some say the flavor is somewhat earthy and nutty. As they mature, the skin of the Puffball mushroom begins to brown and its flesh will become a yellow green or brown, a signal that the mushrooms are inedible. The immature, edible Puffball mushrooms should be cut in half to ensure the inside is white clear through. Use caution when trying to identify wild mushrooms; unless there is 100% certainty of a mushroom’s identification, do not eat it.
Puffball mushroom are available in the late summer through the fall.
Puffball mushrooms are the only mushrooms that contain all of its spores inside its fruiting body. There are over 32 species of wild mushrooms that are commonly referred to as “Puffballs” including species in the genera Calvatia and Lycoperdon; all species are members of the Basidiomycetes family. One species, Calvatia gigantia roughly translates to ‘giant bald head’ and is commonly referred to as a Giant Puffball. Universally, this variety of mushroom is only edible when young with a white flesh. Mature Puffball mushrooms decompose quickly and become dangerous to eat.
A substance called calvacin was isolated from the Giant Puffball mushrooms, Calvatia gigantea, and was shown to inhibit tumor growth in mice.
Puffballs are referred to as the ‘breakfast mushroom’ because they pair so well with egg dishes. Their flavor and texture are enhanced when sautéed and browned in butter. Cut into slices, batter and fry Puffball mushrooms. The rotund mushrooms can be substituted for tofu or eggplant in many recipes. The flesh absorbs the accompanying flavors of a dish. Use in soups or as an addition to ground meats like burgers or meatballs. Puffball mushrooms do not keep well. Dried Puffballs can be reconstituted, though they may be somewhat tough.
Puffball mushrooms were used by Native Americans as a sort of coagulant to stop bleeding and to help prevent infection.
Puffballs are native to the United Kingdom and North America and they can be found in many regions of the United States, except the Gulf Coast and the Deep South. They appear in fields and lawns, oftentimes in fairy rings. Some Puffball mushroom fairy rings in the United States date back over 400 years. The variation in species is both environmental and regional. When mature, Puffball mushrooms crack open or are forced open due to natural forces and can release millions of spores.
Recipes that include Puffball Mushrooms. One is easiest, three is harder.
People have spotted Puffball Mushrooms using the Specialty Produce app for iPhone and Android.
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Near Darien, Connecticut, United States
About 33 days ago, 9/24/16
Spotter's comments : I spotted Puffball Mushrooms in the woods off Tokeneke road in Darien CT!
Wegmans Near Sterling, Virginia, United States
About 717 days ago, 11/10/14