Last fall, I discovered two giant puffball mushrooms growing in my backyard–delicious edible mushrooms, averaging 8 inches across and weighing 2-3 pounds each. Given how much trouble it is to get grass to grow in my backyard, giant edible mushrooms seems like a pretty great silver lining!
Mushrooms can be very difficult to identify and if you get it wrong, it can be very dangerous (I urge extreme caution to anyone thinking about eating any wild mushroom that they aren’t 100% certain they’ve identified correctly). However, giant puffball mushrooms have no poisonous lookalikes, so we decided to give it a cautious try. I cooked up one and half of the giant mushrooms in a variety of ways over the next few days. They were delicious! White, spongy, mild. Yum! The leftover half of a mushroom got broken up and scattered around my yard, with the vague hope that some of the spores would spread.
Um, they did.
This year, we have already had nearly two dozen puffballs growing in the backyard and even a couple in the front yard. The weather is still warm, so it’s tough to catch the mushrooms before they “ripen” (as the mushrooms get ready to release their spores, they first turn dark and slimey inside and not so good to eat). As the weather cools over the next month or two, it should be easier to harvest them at the right time.
This photo is of three giant puffballs that I picked on Monday (with a large apple to give you a sense of scale!). The one on the far left was actually too far gone and got composted. The other two got cleaned, chopped into 1” cubes, and frozen, destined for Thanksgiving Stuffing this year (they are a mild tasting mushroom and very sponge like, so I think they will be an excellent substitute for eggplant in my Eggplant and Wild Mushroom Stuffing recipe since I can’t eat nightshades). I may not have a good yard for vegetables or even for grass, but giant puffball mushrooms seem to like it!