Oyster Mushrooms – Everything You Need To Know And Then Some

There’s a reason Oyster Mushrooms have become some of the most popular gourmet edible mushrooms. Their flavor is spectacular, the texture is meaty, and the overall experience beats that of many other protein sources. On top of this, it’s medicinal and attributes many health benefits to those who consume oyster mushrooms regularly.

Last but not least, Oyster Mushrooms are vigorous fungi. This not only makes them easy to cultivate at home but also allows them to be produced commercially at an attractive price compared to other mushrooms.

oyster mushrooms white elm

What Exactly Are Oyster Mushrooms?

Oyster Mushrooms are the reproductive structures formed by several different species of fungi in the genus Pleurotus. The most commonly produced oyster mushrooms are in the species Pleurotus ostreatus which includes white, blue, and gray oyster mushroom varieties. Other oyster mushroom varieties include The Pink Oyster (Pleurotus djamor) and The Golden Oyster (Pleurotus citrinopileatus).

They are generally identified by their trumpet-like shape with decurrent gills. Decurrent gills are those which extend all the way down the cap and into the stem of the mushroom.

Do Oyster Mushrooms Have Any Health Benefits?

While oyster mushrooms are praised for their delicious flavor, they are also considered an extremely healthy addition to your diet. They contain many important essential nutrients necessary for healthy functioning along with some unique medicinal compounds.

Health Benefits Of Oyster Mushrooms

  • Rich source of more than antioxidants
  • Helps Regulate Cholesterol
  • Helps Regulate Blood Sugar
  • Supports Your Immune System
  • Improves Gut Health
  • Anti-inflammatory effects
  • It may have anti-tumor properties

The nutritional content of 1 cup of oyster mushrooms according to the USDA

  • Calories: 28
  • Carbs: 5 grams
  • Protein: 3 grams
  • Fat: <1 gram
  • Fiber: 2 grams
  • Niacin: 27% of the Daily Value (DV)
  • Pantothenic acid (vitamin B5): 22% of the DV
  • Folate: 8% of the DV
  • Choline: 8% of the DV
  • Potassium: 8% of the DV
  • Iron: 6% of the DV
  • Phosphorus: 8% of the DV
  • Zinc: 6% of the DV

What Different Species Of Oyster Mushrooms Are There?

There are more than 20 different species of oyster mushrooms and more than 100 varieties! Below is a list of the most commonly occurring wild and cultivated oyster mushroom species. Some of these species, such as Pleurotus ostreatus may contain several commercialized varieties with unique common names.

  • Oyster Mushroom Pleurotus ostreatus
  • Summer Oyster Mushroom Pleurotus pulmonarius
  • Golden Oyster Mushroom Pleurotus citrinopileatus
  • Veiled Oyster Pleurotus dryinus
  • Aspen Oyster Mushroom Pleurotus populinus
  • King Trumpet Mushroom Pleurotus eryngii
  • Pink Oyster Mushroom Pleurotus djamor
  • Brown Oyster Mushroom Pleurotus australis
  • Branching Oyster Pleurotus cornucopiae
  • Blue Oyster Mushroom Pleurotus columbinus

Where can I buy them?

The best place to get oyster mushrooms is from a reputable and local cultivator. You can find local growers at farmers markets, in CO-OPs, or by searching online. Large scale cultivators may provide high-quality products, but often don’t take all the steps necessary for the highest quality and most nutritious products. Since oyster mushrooms can bioaccumulate toxins, it’s recommended to find a cultivator who produced organically.

How To Pick Out The Freshest Oyster Mushrooms?

Many mushrooms don’t always have a long shelf life, oyster mushrooms included. This means that even in a grocery store they may not always be in the best condition. Fresh oyster mushrooms will be firm, sturdy, and have adequate moisture. They are usually freshest before the outer margin of the cap begins unfurling out. This means the oyster mushrooms should have an umbrella shape as opposed to that of a trumpet.

Can I Grow My Own?

Oyster mushrooms are the easiest mushroom to cultivate for novice growers. The mycelium is vigorous, quick, and relatively resistant to contamination. It is also highly tolerable to a wide array of environmental conditions. To grow oyster mushrooms you can either purchase a pre colonized grow kit or make the grow kit yourself. Grow kits are made by inoculating a pasteurized substrate with laboratory grade mushroom spawn.

What Are Some Good Oyster Mushroom Recipes?

There are SO many good oyster mushroom recipes. You can almost make any dish you imagine and replace the main protein with oyster mushrooms. Alternatively you can also just fry up oyster mushrooms with garlic and onion and serve them as a topping! If you want more delicious ideas look below for links to some great recipes. Beware, these may stir up your appetite!

How Did Oyster Mushrooms Get Their Name?

The origin of the name oyster mushroom is a bit debatable. It is known that this species was first described in 1775 as Agaricus ostreatus. This suggests that the name oyster mushroom may be quite ancient.

It is thought that the name of Oyster Mushroom possibly came from the oyster-like shape of the mushroom. Alternatively others think the name comes from their seafood-like aroma. This smell is particularly evident if you’ve ever smelled a jar of dehydrated mushrooms. Thankfully, the seafood aroma from oyster mushrooms is not the rotten fish aroma given off by other mushrooms! It’s a delightful and delicious aroma that is only reminiscent of seafood.

Where Do You Find Wild Oyster Mushrooms?

Wild oyster mushrooms occur in almost every type of forested ecosystem. They are readily found during the rainy season growing from logs and trunks. They are specialists at growing on dead woody substrates and rarely occur on other substrates in nature. In temperate regions Oyster Mushrooms commonly grow on Oak, Alder, and many other hardwood tree species. While oyster mushrooms are relatively easy to identify, only eat wild mushrooms once they have been identified by an experienced mushroom hunter.

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