Fun with Calvatia, giant puffballs

a basket of giant puffballs

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2000 was a great year for giant puffballs, mostly Calvatia gigantea. It's fun to find them in the woods or in a meadow. If you find them when they're young, they're delicious. I usually prepare them by cutting only young, white, firm specimens into 3/4 inch thick slices, then into strips about an inch wide. Then I dip them in raw scrambled egg mixed with a little water, afterwards rolling them in bread crumbs (seasoned or not) or in crushed KeeblerTM Club crackers. Then I sauté them on both sides in olive oil plus a little butter until golden brown. They're yummy! However, like tomatoes, they don't all taste the same-- some are much better and more flavorful than others. If you've tasted them in the past and didn't like them, try again! The crispy outside with the texture of marshmallows on the inside is a real treat.

Even though they're delicious, you can get tired of eating them after a time. I recommend freezing some for the winter by cooking them and freezing in airtight bags. When you're ready to eat them, just sauté them again.

There's lots of other fun things you can do with giant puffballs. I decided to make a page for them. Maybe you have some other ideas? Email me!

Hal Burdsall with a Calvatia snowman

Hal Burdsall, recently retired from the Forest Service in Madison, has a coke with his new best friend

Mike Tansey with two large Calvatia

Mike Tansey of Indiana University finds two new friends.

Heather Hallen loves her puffball

Heather Hallen of Michigan State University with her new workout weight. Peter Vachuska of University of Wisconsin- West Bend is in the background

Princess Leigha with her uncle Scott Cooper

Leigha (really her name!) becomes Princess Leigha with help from her uncle Scott Cooper from the UW-La Crosse and Calvatia cyathiformis

Amanita shrine

With Amanita virosa puffballs can be an acceptable shrine substitute, if you can't find a blue bathtub

Darrell Cox bowls over the other fungi

Darrell Cox of the University of Illinois goes bowling.

John Rippon is saved during a front end collision

John Rippon, emeritus professor of Medical Mycology from the University of Chicago, is saved during a front end collision by a Calvatia airbag.

Calvatia crash test dummy

Calvatia can be used as a crash test dummy. Thanks to John Denk, from Tinley Park, Illinois for this fun image, which he took last summer, probably about the same time I took all the other Calvatia pictures.

Tammy Spillis of Michigan wrote about some more fun things to do with giant puffballs: "You can serve them up at a volley ball game. But only once. For the soccer enthusiast, a smashing experience. Little kids love to play catch with them. If the mundane isn't enough, Spray paint them black and take to the nearest bowling alley. Put on the shelf for local patrons to curse. And of course kickball is always an option."

New for Winter 2002-2003!

Jerry Weiland finds a friend

Jerry Weiland of the University of Wisconsin-Madison finds a new friend

Jerry Weiland's new butt

Tragically, many people are born without a butt. The right Calvatia can be an acceptable butt substitute, as Jerry shows.

I hope you enjoyed this page. Fungi are fun!! For the rest of my pages on fungi, please click

©Copyright 2000-2003 by Thomas J. Volk