Everything You Should Know About Puffball Mushrooms (and How to Eat Them)
The giant puffball mushroom—a large, round, and easily foraged fungus—is trending on social. And it's easy to see why.
Puffball mushrooms are taking over social media—or at least #ShroomTok. The bulbous, alien-like fungi are fascinating to look at, smooth on the outside with a solid white texture within.
Though there are 32 species of puffball mushrooms, from here on out, we're going to be talking about the giant puffball (calvatia gigantea).
What Are Puffball Mushrooms?
Puffball mushrooms are globular, smelly fungi that take form in the late summer or fall. While the mushrooms trending on TikTok are of the smooth, white, and giant variety (up to two feet in diameter and 24 pounds), puffball mushrooms can be spiny, grey or brown, and as small as one inch wide.
The fungus gets its nutrients from decaying organic material in the soil and is filled with millions of spores, with giant puffballs containing up to seven trillion.
What Are the Benefits of Puffball Mushrooms?
Giant puffball mushrooms are edible, and when prepared properly can serve as a flavor-absorbant meat substitute. The giant contains phosphorus, manganese, selenium, and clavacin, the last of which was the first substances isolated from a mushroom said to inhibit tumor development.
The mushroom was commonly used in folk medicine, with the Lakota tribe of Native Americans reportedly using the dry powdery spores of the mature puffball to pack wounds and prevent infection.
Where Can I Find Puffball Mushrooms?
Puffball mushrooms appear from late summer through fall, cropping up in meadows and pastures (and golf courses) all over the central and eastern U.S. and Canada.
Since some other mushrooms can mimic the puffball, make sure that you've found the real deal before consuming. Giant puffballs have no stem or cap and are a pure opaque white when cut through. Any discoloration at all means that the puffball has gone to spore and is too old to eat.
If you're positive you've found a giant puffball (don't consume it if you're not 100% sure!), determining how to cook it up is the natural next step. Here, three recipes that feature the unique mushroom in all of its plant-based glory.
3 Giant Puffball Mushroom Recipes to Try
Photo: Plant You
Create the illusion of classic fried chicken with this spicy vegan recipe, which uses aquafaba (or chickpea water) as the binder for your breadcrumbs.
Photo: Delicious From Scratch
The veggie burger gets a shroomy upgrade with the help of a sliced puffball crusted with fried parmesan cheese. Serve with your preferred fixings for that perfect "burger" bite.
Photo: Forager Chef
Ditch the noodles and craft your next lasagne using giant puffball mushrooms. The mushroom slices get cooked first, then take the place of fresh pasta sheets in this layered plant-based dish.
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