I get this question a lot. Puffballs, the round blobs on the front lawn, you know the ones…. that when left become dark, brittle and then “poof” into blackish smoke-like dust.
Yes, those blobs are edible mushrooms. BUT and I do mean a BIG but, you must cut open each and everyone to be absolutely sure it is a puffball mushroom and not an immature toxic or worse, poisonous mushroom.
I will explain in a moment.
Puffballs encompass a few different genera, Calvatia, Calbovista and Lycoperdon. I am still working on proper identification of each that I find. Puffballs contain their spores within instead of under gills as in regular mushrooms. As the spores develop and the puffball matures and gets brittle, the slightest disturbance even from a raindrop can crack it open enough for the spores to explode out and “poof”. There are some species of puffballs that are inedible or toxic like the stalked puffball or the Scleroderma.
So how do we know we have a puffball? First pick one.
It should be firm but somewhat squishy.
It can be all white or slightly cream color with spots.
It may be pear shaped.
Now cut one in half from TOP to BOTTOM – it should be WHITE marshmallow-like and sometimes looks like sliced white bread…seriously!
There should be NO outline of any baby mushroom, gills, cap or otherwise. period.
It should not be black or any other color.
The puffball should be peeled and it should easily peel with a knife or potato peeler.
If it is hard like a rind, throw it away – could be poisonous.
So would you be confident to pick and eat one? Maybe not yet. Find a knowledgeable friend and have them positively ID it for you.
What do they taste like? Puffballs are kind of like tofu, they take on any flavor you want by marinating them or adding a sauce to them. I usually just cook along side other mushrooms in butter or olive oil and garlic.
I tried something different this time. I dehydrating them because my hubby found a bunch – too many to eat! And they don’t keep in the fridge like other mushrooms, you must eat or do something with them within a day or 2 max.
Turn the dehydrator on and check them after an hour, then after 2 and they should be ready by the 3rd hour. They should break easy. Let cool and store in glass jars. 🙂
Dehydrated Puffball Mushrooms
Easy, peasy method of saving your mushroom harvest for later.
- puffball mushrooms
Take out your dehydrator and take out the trays, lay them out on a table.
With a sharp knife, cut EVERY puffball in half lengthwise (from top to bottom) Look inside to make sure they are indeed puffballs, marshmallow-like white interior with no baby gills or discoloration!
On a large cutting board, peel the thin "skin" off your halved puffballs with a potato peeler.
Slice your mushrooms thin with a sharp knife.
Spread out your slices on the food dehydrator trays, do not crowd.
Stack trays, not tightly and turn on machine. Check after each hour, they should be done in about 2 hours, maybe 3 depending on your machine.
Allow to cool completely, sliced should break easily. Store in glass jars until you wish to grind or use.
Have a Lovely Day!