Minnesota Grown: How to Identify a Puffball Mushroom
After a hot and dry summer, central Minnesota has been blessed with a bunch of rain and mushrooms are starting to pop up everywhere. As I was out for a walk with my dog last week, I kept seeing these big round mushrooms around the park we were at and it made me wonder if they were true puffball mushrooms or not. As a kid, we used to have massive ones growing in our yard, and it was always hilarious to watch them explode.
Here is how to properly identify a puffball mushroom growing in Minnesota.
Puffballs look unlike most other types of mushrooms since they don’t have gills, the young ones are solid spongy balls growing from the earth. These mushrooms are relatively easy to spot, since they can be quite large, round, and white. They tend to stick out against the green grass they grow in.
All true puffballs are edible if picked young enough, but you want to be careful about identifying them before consuming them. According to Grocycle.com There are several species of poisonous Amanita mushrooms that can look similar to puffballs during their early growth stages.
After you forage a puffball, or what you believe to be a puffball, make sure that the flesh is thick, hard, and solid white when you cut it in half. If it isn't solid white it isn't a true puffball. You don't want to see any evidence of gills or any sort of coloring.
Only young puffballs are edible. If you find one that is soft, brown, or full of spores inside then it’s too mature for you to eat. That is the time to kick it, which seems wasteful, but it actually releases the spores into the air, and betters your chances of finding more puffballs in the area in the future. Plus who doesn't love watching something explode?
Happy puffball hunting!