Fresh oyster mushrooms or just oyster mushrooms got their name from the seafood of the same name because its cap resembles that of an open oyster shell. The oyster mushroom has a bittersweet aroma much like those of bitter almonds. This mushroom grows mainly on tree trunks in a sideways arrangement, resembling oyster shells stuck on the side of tree trunks. It is also easily cultivated in straw and other common mushroom growing media making it attractive as a cultivated crop and as a wild foraged product as well.
Fresh Oyster Mushroom Trivia
- The oyster mushroom is one of the few mushroom species that are known to be carnivorous. They are known to eat tiny worms (nematodes) and bacteria that are unfortunate enough to land on them.
- The oyster mushroom is a saprotroph, this means that it mainly feeds on decaying wood and other dead matter.
- Its Latin name is Pleurotus ostreatus, which literally means “sideways oyster.”
- Oyster mushrooms were first cultivated during World War II by the Germans as a quick and ready source of subsistence.
Fresh Oyster Mushroom Buying Guide
While there are many types of oyster mushrooms, there are two varieties that are sought after in the culinary world. These are the pearl oyster mushrooms and the king oyster mushrooms.
- Pearl Oyster Mushroom – this is the type of oyster mushrooms that people refer to when they say “oyster mushroom,” usually omitting the “pearl” from the name. These are tender and small with almost no stems.
- King oyster mushroom – These are recognized by their sheer size and thick white stems and flat caps. These are prized for their meaty taste and chewy squid-like texture.
You can easily find oyster mushrooms in specialty/Asian supermarkets where there is a high demand for them as they’re very popular in Asian cuisine. They are also available in many farmers’ markets as they are quite easy to cultivate and are popular among wild mushroom foragers.
Fresh Oyster Mushroom Production & Farming in Texas
There are three main mushroom hunting groups in Texas. These are the Texas Wild Mushrooming Group, the Central Texas Mycological Society, and Foraging Texas. They’re very enthusiastic organizations that teach their members how to identify wild oyster mushrooms and how to safely harvest them.
Oyster mushrooms love the mild Texas winters and during the cooler months, they can be found in places where there are a lot of fallen trees or trees stumps. The best way to forage wild oyster mushrooms is to join the aforementioned mushroom hunting groups and to learn everything there is to about the oyster mushroom as well as how to avoid its poisonous lookalikes like the Jack-O-Lantern, Ivory Funnel, and Ghost Fungus (which glows in the dark!)
As with other mushroom varieties. Oyster mushrooms are packed trays made out of plastic with a plastic film cover.
How to Grow Oyster Mushrooms:
While oyster mushrooms are easily found in the wild if you know what you’re looking for, growing them is much easier than trudging through damp woods looking for wild mushrooms. On top of that, oyster mushrooms are also the easiest types of mushrooms to grow and are a popular choice for beginners.
There are three phases to growing oyster mushrooms: Inoculation, Incubation, and Fruiting. Here are the steps to growing your own oyster mushrooms at home. Take note though that you may need to purchase the spawn (seed) from your local mushroom grower or group.
- Determine which mushroom strain to grow.
- Pearl Oyster Mushroom – This is your common oyster mushroom and they grow best in colder temperatures.
- Blue Oyster Mushrooms – This is rather uncommon in Texas as it needs cool temperatures (45-65F) to grow.
- Golden Oyster Mushroom – This is an excellent choice, it has an amazing yellow color and they thrive in warmer temperatures (64-86F)
- Pink Oyster Mushroom – This is one of the faster varieties to grow as it can start producing fruit in three weeks. This also lends well to the local Texas climate.
- King Oyster Mushrooms – These are the largest type of oyster mushrooms and are highly coveted by chefs and foodies due to its taste and texture. If you’re a beginner, it’s not recommended to grow this type as it’s a bit tricky to grow, as well as it prefers cooler temperatures.
- Prepare your substrate (growing medium) – We recommend wood pellets as these are already pasteurized (clean from any contaminants) and all you need to do is add water to hydrate them. You can also use straw, but it has to be sterilized first before using it.
- Order your supplies – Order your mushroom spawn, your substrate/growing medium, and growing bags from your local mushroom supply supplier. Once your supplies are in, proceed to the next step.
- Prepare your substrate – Take your wood pellets and add an equal weight of water to the weight of the pellets and let soak for 30 minutes. Mix up to incorporate thoroughly.
- Inoculation – This is where you will mix your spawn with your growing medium. Make sure to clean all work surfaces and wash your hands thoroughly as you don’t want to contaminate the spawn.
- Mix your spawn with the substrate and stuff them into your growing bags. These bags should already be breathable so you don’t have to punch holes in them.
- Incubation – Store the bags in a warm dark space in your home. Remember those places where you don’t store food because it may grow mold? Those are the perfect places to store your mushroom grow bags. Mushrooms thrive in warm humid conditions and it will eat its way across the food in the bag.
- Check your bags once in a while to see if the substrate has been fully colonized.
- Once the bag is completely white, it’s time for fruiting.
- Fruiting – Once the bag is completely white, you can follow the following steps to enable your mushroom grow bags to grow fruit.
- Take the bags out of where you had them incubate into an area with a little bit of light. Not direct light, shaded or indirect light is fine.
- Make a 5cm slit in the bag so that it can breathe, this is where the mushrooms will fight to grow out from.
- Spritz the substrate with water twice a day to keep the substrate humid (as mushrooms need this humidity)
- After seven days, you should start to see tiny mushroom pins growing out of the hole you made.
- You can watch them grow double in size every day, and they should be ready to harvest after seven days. These will keep on growing after each harvest until the spawn is exhausted.
Eating Fresh Oyster Mushrooms
Since oyster mushrooms act like sponges, they best in saucy dishes. They absorb much of the liquid, infusing them with the flavor of the dish and at the same time making the sauce much thicker and richer. Oyster mushrooms can also be made into “chips” for a healthier snacking option.
Once harvested (or purchased) fresh oyster mushrooms can be stored inside the fridge for up to a week.
Make your own Oyster Mushroom Chips:
Making your own mushroom chips is quick and simple it can be used as a snack or as a crispy garnish to many dishes. Personally, they never last long enough for them to become garnishes. Once the aroma of mushroom chips fill the house, everyone rushes in to snack on them.
Fresh Oyster Mushrooms, 1 pound
Garlic Powder, 2 teaspoons
Olive Oil (or any oil), 2 tablespoons
Salt and Pepper to taste.
Preheat oven to 400F
Cover a baking sheet with foil. (This is to save you from scrubbing down the sheet after). Stick the stray with the foil in the oven while doing the next step.
Remove the oyster mushroom stems and split the fans in half. Toss together all of the ingredients in a bowl.
Take out the baking sheet and spray it with some non-stick spray or brush with some oil. Spread out the mushrooms on the sheet to make one single layer and put back into the oven.
Bake for 30-40 minutes or until crispy.
Allow to cool for a bit and then serve!
Note: One pound of oyster mushrooms doesn’t yield much as it’s mostly made out of water.
When Are Fresh Oyster Mushrooms in Season in Texas?
One of the most salient benefits to eating seasonally is that you are effectively reducing your carbon footprint and supporting a more geographically sustainable food economy. We are rarely encouraged to think about the physical lengths our food travels before arriving on the market shelves. And all of this travel comes with a hefty environmental cost that is concealed from the consumer’s eye. Check other fruit and veg that’s in season in Texas.