For all wild mushrooms, make sure you properly ID the mushroom. Look in ID books, ask experts, and do some research before digging in.
This year we discovered a new-to-us edible WV mushroom: the purple-spored puffball!
While most fungi take several mushrooms to make a serving, this mushroom can serve two or more on its own. Also, unlike other mushrooms, you do not have to go deep in the wet woods to find this gem. The purple-spored mushroom is most often found in freshly-mowed lawns, fields, and grassy spaces. The puffball to the left was found in a soccer field.
The purple-spored puffball does have some look alikes, so make sure you have harvested the correct mushroom. Another import feature of this mushroom is freshness. You want to see pure white when you slice into it. Once it has turned yellow inside or eventually purple in or outside, do not eat it.
I love the texture of this puffball because it is rather hardy. It stands up to slicing, marinating, frying, and chopping. It has a very light (not super earthy) taste that can take on a lot of flavors. Use it as a tofu substitute in any dish! Additionally, you may either take the skin off or leave on for a slightly different texture. With a pretty plain taste and light, spongy textures, the possibilities of dishes are endless.
A few mushrooms go a long way for cooking. We are still testing recipes however our favorite is substituting puffball for tofu in miso soup. We also enjoyed slices of puffball fried in a tempura batter.
This mushroom is considered a “summer mushroom” in West Virginia and we have spotted it mid-late August this year. Keep an eye out next time you are strolling in the park and you may just spot this tasty treat.
Tempura Puffball Slices
Slices of puffball (with or without skin)
2 large egg whites
1 cup all-purpose flour
2/3 cup cold water
salt and pepper
Canola or Vegetable oil (enough to fill your deep pan for frying)
- Beat eggs whites in bowl until frothy. Slowly fold flour and cold water into egg whites until batter is just mixed.
- Coat puffball slices in batter and fry in hot oil
- Remove from oil when light golden brown and crispy, lay on paper towels or rack.
- Lightly Salt and pepper