Mushrooms, depending on the variety, are often rich in ergosterol, or provitamin D2, as well as fiber and certain minerals, such as selenium.
The giant puffball mushroom or Calvatia gigantea is an edible mushroom that is found abundantly in meadows, deciduous forests and fields throughout the world. While the flavor of a giant puffball mushroom is quite mild, the mushrooms have a dense, fleshy texture and absorb flavors very quickly, making them popular edibles. Growers’ markets may have giant puffball mushrooms in season, as can some specialty stores. If you are an experienced mushroom hunter, you can also collect them.
The mushroom looks vaguely like a large ball of meringue that has been dropped to the ground. When ready to eat, the giant puffball mushroom will begin to crack slightly, revealing a blinding white interior. In a few days, the spores inside mature and the mushroom begins to rot, becoming inedible. If the mushroom dries up, a quick kick will release an abundant cloud of dust, as many forest walkers have learned.
In many cases, a giant puffball mushroom can approach the size of a football and can weigh up to 40 pounds (20 kilograms). When sliced open, a giant puffball mushroom will be pure white with no trace of gills. Mushrooms should be trimmed to remove bad portions and brushed for dirt if eaten. If you want to save giant puffball mushrooms for later, cook them before freezing them, as they don’t freeze well when raw and don’t even bother trying to dry them.
Mushrooms can be sliced and marinated like other meaty mushrooms and can also be added to soups, stews and sauces. When cooked, the texture is very reminiscent of tofu, and the mushrooms tend to be very dense and satisfying. Many people like to add them to dishes they intend to freeze, as cooked mushrooms keep well in the freezer for several months.
Several puffball mushrooms are edible when young, and some of them are very tasty. However, several toadstools look a lot like puffball mushrooms when they are young. Therefore, it is extremely important to identify a puffball mushroom correctly before picking and eating it. If your mushroom identification skills are weak, try taking a class or guided mushroom-picking tour and always verify your finds with someone else. Even experienced mushroom handlers have been known to misidentify puffballs, so they require more care than some other edible mushroom species.