Giant puffballs can be combined with other products to produce pills used in the treatment of various conditions. When mixed with snake slough, it can offer relief from sore throats. Pills that include a combination of Calvatia gigantea powder and honey can cure chronic cough when taken with a soup. Hematemesis caused by long periods of lung heat can be treated with pills prepared from mushroom powder and granulated sugar that can be ingested with regular water. Hematemesis can also happen during pregnancy and an effective counter is rice soup with added giant puffball powder. Pain and inflammation can also be cured with giant puffballs. The spores accelerate blood coagulation and they were applied on wounds by Native Americans in order to accelerate healing and kill various germs. Decoctions prepared from giant puffballs can inhibit the growth of some pathogenic fungi, as well as the dangerous bacteria Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Staphylococcus aureus, proteusbacillus vulgaris and Streptococcus pneumonia. When sliced into thin strips, giant puffball has been traditionally used to limit bleeding from wounds, as a so-called styptic dressing that acts as a natural bandage. It was also effective as tinder. While tinder is not needed anymore, it used to be very valuable to carry and propagate fire back in the day when other means were not available. Beekeepers also used it to fumigate their hives during routine maintenance tasks. Smoldering giant puffballs produce a lot of smoke that calms down bees, so the beekeeper could perform his work with a much smaller risk of stings.
The giant puffball is a very popular edible mushroom due to its large size and the distinctive shape, which makes it very easy to identify. However, puffballs are quite rare and they usually grow in specific areas, so harvesting them is not a very easy task in most parts of the world. If you are lucky to find them in a location, make sure you remember it. They will develop several years in a row in the same spot, being a great source of healthy natural food. Giant puffballs can only be consumed when fresh, so make sure that the inner tissue is white. When the spores mature, the mushrooms become inedible, even if they are not actually toxic. This is clearly signalled by the color of their flesh, which turns yellow or even brown. Avoid the puffballs that grow on the side of busy roads. These will become contaminated by the toxins produced by vehicle exhausts that accumulate in them. Giant puffballs lack the strong flavours of other fungi but are quite versatile and can be included in a multitude of recipes. They are typically sliced into strips after peeling, and then added to meat casseroles and other similar dishes. A very popular dish prepared from giant puffballs is fried strips with bacon, after being dipped with beaten eggs and coated in breadcrumbs. It works great with pastas or paired with a side dish salad. The texture of giant puffballs resembles the one of tofu, a product made from soy. They can be added as an ingredient to soups and any recipes prepared from other mushroom varieties. Fresh young puffballs don't have the intense taste of other species but have a very rich earthy and nutty flavour. The simplest and most delicious recipes are mushroom omelettes and butter-fried puffballs. Giant puffballs must be consumed only if they don't have gills.
Giant puffballs usually grow isolated or in small clusters. Occasionally, they can create spectacular fairy rings. Giant puffball is typically found in border areas such as the edges of woodlands, on the side of roads, on field edges, in the middle of nettles or briars as well as in various grounds rich in nutrients. It is rarely encountered in clearings or normal forested areas. Giant puffballs are a saprotrophic species that feeds on decaying organic waste such as grass remnants or detritus. Giant puffball enjoys fields, lawns, meadows and other areas covered by grass but it can be found in deciduous forests as well. It sometimes forms fairy rings, which are circular-shaped arrangements. These can cover a large area and supply a sizeable quantity of mushrooms, due to their great weight.
Any food can potentially trigger allergic reactions but none have been reported so far in the case of giant puffballs. However, some people can be allergic to all mushrooms, even the common white button variety that is found in stores. Wild mushrooms require additional precautions, so test them first with a small amount. Only consume puffballs after cooking them very well and don't mix them with other species that you haven't eaten before.
Fresh giant puffballs are the only that can be consumed, so make sure their flesh is firm. Harvesting is easy, you just have to pick them from the ground and remove the dirt from the bottom part. Fresh giant puffballs have firm flesh with a flawless white color. When the flesh is no longer firm, it is a sign that the spores inside have matured. You can double check by looking at the color of the flesh, which should be yellow or green. It is pointless to harvest these mushrooms since they are no longer edible and should be left outside to release the spores and propagate. The dirt on the bottom side can be quickly removed using a soft brush, so it's a good idea to carry one with you. Puffballs tend to appear in the same location for multiple years in a row, so note down the spot where you found them. Due to their large size, puffballs can be a great source of ingredients.