All You Need to Know About Oyster Mushrooms

26 May 2021

Oyster mushrooms are one of the most delicious foods out there, and the more you know about them, the more you love them! Here’s the oyster mushroom FAQ.

Oyster Mushrooms - The Forest’s Most Delicious TreasurePhoto By Canva

Oyster mushrooms are astounding little creatures, and the more you know about them, the more you love them. Oyster mushrooms are noble like that; they’re the very definition of beauty in simplicity. Here’s all you ever wanted to know about the earthy treats including techniques for cooking oyster mushrooms. All your oyster questions answered.

What Are Oyster Mushrooms?

Scientifically called Pleurotus ostratus, oyster mushrooms are one of the most common mushrooms on our diet. Mass produced first in Germany, the thin mushrooms grow in warm climate forests worldwide.

Oyster mushrooms grow in the trees sideways, using their wide oyster-shaped cap to catch the sunlight and the forest’s moisture, meaning they’re easy to recognize, even in the wild. Interestingly, oyster mushrooms are carnivorous, yes! They digest eelworms that cross their path.

Not to be confused with king oyster mushrooms, a close relative but not shaped as an oyster at all, oyster mushrooms are unique in shape, texture and taste. There’s a reason oyster mushrooms have such an enormous fan base; they’re delicious!

Types of Oyster Mushrooms

There are over 200 species of mushrooms in the oyster mushroom family, and they all share similarities. Yellow and pink oyster mushrooms have a similar large cap, but others, like the tiny blue oyster mushrooms and the robust king oyster mushrooms, look nothing like regular oyster mushrooms.

Although oyster mushrooms have a unique shape, never consume mushrooms if you don’t know what they are. Having said that, some oyster mushroom varieties are quite flashy and attractive. The pink oyster mushrooms are amongst the prettiest, and they’re as meaty and chewy as their regular counterparts.

The elm oyster mushroom, obviously found on elm trees, might look like oyster mushrooms, but they’re not related at all.

How to Prepare Oyster Mushrooms?

Oyster mushrooms are delicate beings, so you must be careful not to overcook them. Despite that, they’re super resourceful and will lend their meatiness and soft texture to any soup, broth or stir-fry.

To cook oyster mushrooms, you must clean them first to remove any dirt that might be hidden between the mushroom’s membranes. Clean them with a damp cloth to avoid saturating them with water.

Usually, you don’t want to cut, slice or dice oyster mushrooms too much, as they’re beautiful, just as they are. You might only want to remove the stem (which is more fibrous) and cut the cap into bite-sized pieces.

It would help if you cut other species, like the king oyster mushroom, in small dices or thin strips.

How to Cook Oyster Mushrooms?

oyster mushroom kebabsPhoto By Canva

There are countless ways of cooking oyster mushrooms. Here are the most popular.

  • Fry oyster mushrooms but coat them with all-purpose flour first for a crispy and meaty bite.
  • Add oyster mushrooms to stir-fries with other veggies and your protein of choice; they’re delectably compatible with soy sauce and sweeter teriyaki-style condiments.
  • Sauté oyster mushrooms to tender perfection and don’t worry if they shrink a bit. This is a perfect side dish for steak.
  • You can also grill oyster mushrooms at a BBQ. Coat or spray them with cooking oil and stick them on a skewer to prevent them from falling through the grill!
  • Steam oyster mushrooms for delicate elements for a flavorful salad; they become incredibly soft!

What Do Oyster Mushrooms Taste Like?

Oyster mushrooms basically taste light like any other mushroom; they’re moist, soft and can have chewy and fibrous bits. Oyster mushrooms are known for being meaty, and when cooked right, they’re fork-tender. Also, oyster mushrooms are earthy and substantial. They retain less moisture than larger mushrooms, so they cook more evenly.

It comes without saying oyster mushrooms don’t taste like oysters at all. They’re called that way for their soft texture and wide cap. The mushrooms are beautifully compatible with seafood, though, and I guess you can sauté them with oyster sauce for a fun dish.

In a nutshell, oyster mushrooms are crowd-pleasing for their earthy flavor and soft texture. They’re easy to love!

Where to Buy Oyster Mushrooms?

Buy oyster mushrooms at your farmers’ market. Growing them has become a popular pastime, as they’re easy to cultivate, so they’re readily available almost anywhere in the world.

If you want to buy oyster mushrooms in a store, an Asian market will be your best bet, where you can even find them fresh or sun-dried.

Make sure the mushrooms look fresh and don’t have dark spots. They should be firm to the touch and never slimy. If the mushrooms have developed a white, furry texture, they now host another fungus and are not edible anymore.

When possible, avoid canned oyster mushrooms; they’re too soggy and lack the meaty texture and fresh flavors or the real deal.

How to Store Mushrooms?

To store oyster mushrooms, line a lidded BPA-free plastic container with a paper towel, place the mushrooms (make sure they’re dry) and cover them with a second layer of paper. Then cover the container and store it in the back of the fridge for between 3-5 days. A vacuum-sealed food-safe plastic bag will work, too, and add the paper towels, just in case.

Sadly, you can’t freeze oysters since they’re mostly water, and the ice crystals will break down their delicate tissue. For mushrooms, the fresher, the better — unless, of course, you buy dry mushrooms, which you have to re-hydrate with steam or add them a soup or broth as-is.

Nutrition and Benefits of Oyster Mushrooms

Oyster mushrooms are uncommonly healthy, and they offer lots of nutrients along with negligible calories. One cup of oyster mushrooms adds:

  • 28 calories to your diet.
  • 15.5mg of sodium.
  • 5.2g of carbohydrates.
  • 2g of fiber.
  • 2.9g of protein.

The low-glycemic food also adds phosphorus, potassium, copper, iron, magnesium, zinc, selenium and manganese to your diet.

If this weren’t enough, consuming oyster mushrooms might help you lower bad cholesterol levels, promote heart health and boost your immune system. Overall, consuming mushrooms is good for your health, from your digestive system to your heart.

Recent encouraging medical studies suggest oyster mushrooms may suppress cancer cell growth. Only time will tell if we can make them part of a viable treatment.

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