Chances are, if you have spent any amount of time in the woods as a child you came across and large white ball on the ground and couldn't resist the urge to run up and give it your best Charlie Brown kick. What you might not have known at the time and should know now, is that big white ball is a Puffball mushroom and is really quite delicious.
The Puff ball is one of the easier mushrooms to identify and when cared
for properly and cooked just right, can make any meal great. With a
texture like firm tofu and a brilliant earthy flavor that only wild
mushrooms can have the puffball is a wonderful mushroom for adventurous
cooks who are willing to try them. Mostly because there aren't any
poisonous look alike mushrooms and they are fairly easy to find. One of
the things I like to do right after I find one is to cut it open and
inspect it for bugs or worms. The puffball should be solid and white all
the way through and if they aren't or you find large discolorations or
critters inside them it is usually best to throw those out.
Puffballs aren't specific to any type of growth area and can pop up
anywhere. I have found them in the woods out on prairies and this one I
actually found out behind one of my neighbors houses in a small strip of
woods in the middle of Apple Valley, MN. Puffballs do like the late summer and early fall time of year to appear but outside of that they are to picky.
When Cooking puffballs make sure you cut the outer skin off and cook them thoroughly. I like a couple of different preparations, first I mix a little all-purpose seasoning like a lowry's seasoned salt or Penzy's seasoned salt with flour and then cut the mushroom into fries and roll them in flour. Then I fry them in butter and serve them with a nice steak sauce. What you end up with is a beautiful mushroom fry that is lightly crisped on the outside and soft and creamy on the inside. The other way I like them is cut into small cubes and fried in butter with some Cajun spice. then you can add them to a burger or with a grilled duck breast or like I used them, in a breakfast omelet with a little white cheddar and chives.
Just a side note from my friend Rick "Just a minor note that some immature amantias have been reported to be mistaken for puffballs in their egg state. Some of my books recommend slicing to look for developing typical amantia fruiting bodies." You have been warned.