Editor’s note: The author is a certified chef and specializes in wildfire and wilderness cooking.
I remember the first time I encountered a puffball mushroom. It was autumn — the height of puffball mushroom season. I was 17 and was walking my dog in a particularly remote and thick deciduous forest. I was stunned to see what appeared to be an ultra-bright soccer ball on the dark and neutral detritus of the forest floor. I, of course, did what any self-respecting 17-year-old boy would do, and kicked it. It shattered into pieces and I was stunned that something like that could grow in the wild. Little did I know I had just destroyed a delicacy. It wasn’t until years later that I grew to appreciate the value of the puffball mushroom.
You always have to be careful about eating any mushroom found in the wild. Typically, very colorful mushrooms are poisonous, but some of the deadliest are white or cream colored. I’ve harvested mushrooms for years and I wrote a previous article about the most common and safe-to-eat mushrooms. But, for me, the puffball is king — literally.
Finding puffball mushrooms is easy. So easy a child can do it, and I’ve found my grandkids to be the best puffball hunters.