This page is used to feature mushrooms that are prevalent for the particular time of the year or, during
the winter months, to feature some of the less desirable or hard to find mushrooms.
To see some of our
previous stars follow this link to an index of previously featured
November's Mushroom of the Month
The Gem-Studded Puffball
The gem-studded puffball is a very common mushroom in
Michigan woods in the summer and fall.
This mushroom can grow singly and scattered, but
sometimes it can be found in large clusters.
Opinions vary widely about its taste, Arora in
Demystified considers it bland at best and bitter at
worst, Phillips in
Other Fungi of North America considers the taste to
be excellent, and Lincoff in
The Audubon Guide
calls the taste choice.
I like the flavor of this mushroom, but I don’t
care for its consistency; that of a marshmallow.
When I have found it in quantities, I have made
cream of mushroom soup with mixed wild mushrooms.
The white fruiting body is round to pear-shaped with a
rudimentary stalk composed of sterile cells.
The cap ranges from 1 to 2 ½ inches (2.5 to 6.25
cm) wide and 1 ¼ to 3 inches tall.
The top and sides of the mushroom are covered
with longer and shorter spines which easily break off
leaving a web-like pattern.
When mature, a pore forms at the top center of
the mushroom through which the spores escape.
The flesh (spore mass) is white when immature,
becoming yellow brown then olive brown at full maturity.
These mushrooms are only edible when the flesh is
As soon as a trace of discoloring appears the
mushrooms become bitter.
through Hope Miller’s cookbook,
Cookbook. This book is organized by a list of 25
Mushrooms or groups of mushrooms.
At the end of each recipe there is a list of the
mushrooms from the 25 groups that can be used in the
recipe. In the
general recipe section there are only two recipes that
allow puffballs: Spanish Chicken and Spaghetti with
These two recipes specify that all of the mushroom on
the list can be used.
Many recipes, especially for soups, specify all
mushrooms on the list except puffballs.
In the final section: Favorite Wild Mushroom
Recipes, Hope gives a recipe for puffball parmesan which
I believe is only for the giant puffball and a recipe
for puffball chips which uses smaller puffballs like
There also is a recipe for mushroom loaf with a
note that it is also good with chopped puffballs.