Calvatia gigantea: Giant Puffball

Last weekend I did the whole monkey run loop in Ithaca, a beautiful 5 plus mile loop with stunning views, fields, forests, water, hills, and Mushrooms! It was a mild saturday after a rainy friday and I found a field mushroom with pink gills and an orange mushroom but these two mushrooms got crushed in my bag by the huge puffball I found; Calvatia gigantea. This giant puffball was a bit misshapen, probably due to other animals that had decided to take a bite out of this tasty treat, but it was so big that even after cutting off the entire oddly shaped, critter nibbled exterior (which my teacher recommended I did quite thoroughly for sanitary reasons), I had plenty to make into two delicious meals.

The puff ball before skinned, just cut in half. Note the pure white inside. You don’t want to eat any puffball that has begun to discolor inside. I admit, the apple is somewhat of a midget apple so it may not be a fair size comparison… But it was quite large!

The first meal I made was what I am calling puffball parmesan. I would say it was as tasty as any chicken parmesan I’ve ever had!Here is how I did it.


(made about 4 servings, depending on how hungry you are. Note: although just as delicious, I did find that puffball parmesan is not quite as filling as chicken parmesan. I ended up eating hald of my 8×8 casserole dish for one meal!)

  • 1 Calvatia gigantea (I used about half of my large one for this recipe)
  • bread crumbs (I made my own out of some old hard bread, adding whatever yummy spices I had around like sage, thyme, rosemary, basil, salt and pepper and some fresh chopped garlic)
  • eggs (2-3 should be enough)
  • butter or oil (I used a mix of olive oil and butter)
  • spinach
  • tomato sauce
  • parmesan cheese
  • mozzarella cheese

Preheat your oven to about 350 F.  Wash and trim your puffball thoroughly to get get rid of the tough and possibly unsanitary outer layer. Cut it into hamburger thickness slabs. Have two bowls ready, one with your eggs beaten, and another with your breadcrumbs. Get a pan warmed up with oil or butter. Then dip each slab of puffball into the eggs and then roll around in the bread crumbs. Fry lightly on the pan until golden brown on the outside.

Arrange these breaded puffball slabs in a casserole dish. Pour some tomato sauce over them (I added some spinach too for some extra nutritional value). I also mixed up the extra bread crumbs and egg I had and through that in too. Then put some thin strips of parmesan cheese cheese on top, sprinkle some parmesan and stick it in the oven until the cheese starts to bubble, and you have yourself a delicious puffball parmesan! I honestly think I might have been able to serve this to an unsuspecting passerby and they would have thought it was chicken parmesan.

My puffball parmesan just out of the oven. Yummm.

After this delicious feast I still had half of my puffball left, that I was surprised to find remained in good condition in my fridge for the week. So today, as I seemed to have caught the cold that has hit Ithaca hard I decided it was time to make a big, hearty soup. Last night I boiled a chicken breast with the bone in to start the stock, but found it to still be quite weak, so I decided to make it a chicken-miso soup. Being a fan of using what I have in the fridge if I can I decided to cut the res of the puffball up into little cubes and throw in into my soup instead of tofu! At first each little cube seemed to be expanding with the liquid and and floating on the top but as I let the soup simmer they shrunk down in size and tasted quite yummy! Although ingredients in my hearty soup included a cup (uncooked) of brown rice, carrots and onions sautéed and then thrown in, garlic, and kale. And of course lots of miso, some pepper, and chili powder. Although I don’t have much sense of smell or taste right now the soup tasted good to me and is definitely warming me up and making me feel better. If I made it again I might add less rice or make sure I had more broth though because the rice soaks up a lot of water and turns it into almost a stew.

I hope you enjoyed these puff ball recipes!



    1. Yes, they are a yummy edible, but make sure you know what you have as there are different species and some are poisonous. Also, even if its an edible species, if its too old and starting to discolor inside I would stay away from it.


  1. Puffball parmesan recipe sounds so good!! Too bad t’s not for us who don’t have a clue where and how to find puffballs… Any chance of these making into markets?


    1. hmmm I doubt it cause I can’t imagine how you would cultivate them! They grow on the ground, not on wood like shiitake, so I don’t know how you would inoculate an area for puffballs…


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