What are Oyster Mushrooms, and what are they good for?

Have you heard the name ‘oyster mushroom’ and ever wondered what all the fuss is about?

Fortunately, we have got you covered, with a deep dive into what are oyster mushrooms?

In this article we are going to explore the world oyster mushrooms:

  • the benefits of oyster mushrooms,
  • different types of oyster mushroom varieties, and
  • interesting facts about oyster mushrooms.

So we hope you have your mushroom cap on tight (yes, we know it’s a terrible dad joke), because we are going to dive head first into this journey.

what are oyster mushrooms

What are Oyster Mushrooms?

Oyster mushrooms are one of the most popular, and arguably one of the best known, mushrooms around the world.

They owe their popularity due to their delicate and complex flavor. Chefs like to incorporate them into gourmet dishes because of their subtle seafood flavors, with hints of nutty and earthly aromas.

Oyster mushrooms (the scientific name for their species is Pleurotus ostreatus) are known to grow in the wild on trees. However, due to their increased popularity, many mushroom farms have begun cultivating them to sell commercially.

Oyster mushrooms are easy to recognize due to their darker, fan-shaped mushroom caps. If you look underneath the cap, you will see oyster mushrooms belong to the gilled mushroom family. These are fine lines under the cap that are generally white or off-white in color.

What are Oyster Mushrooms Good for?

If you have read this far, it is pretty obvious that oyster mushrooms are a great inclusion in dishes. They add complexity and flavors. This is especially applicable to vegetarian meals, where seafood flavors would otherwise not be achievable.

What is Special about Oyster Mushrooms?

Oyster mushrooms really shine when it comes to their nutritional contribution to well-balanced diets. For one serving (approximately one-cup), they add very few calories (28 calories) and fat (1 gram). You could also consider oyster mushrooms as a dietary mushroom.

oyster mushrooms

Not only do they tick the right boxes for those watching their weight, they also pack their weight in vitamins and minerals. The main specialty of oyster mushrooms is that they contain:

  • high amounts of vitamin D,
  • a serving of oyster mushrooms will contribute 12% of your DRI (daily recommended intake) of Iron, and
  • Niacin – which is a key mineral that your body’s cells requires to function properly.

If you maintain a predominantly vegetarian or vegan diet, it is a good idea to incorporate oyster mushrooms as a regular feature in your meals. If not for the deliciousness, it is a great source of iron.

Where can you buy oyster mushrooms?

Sourcing oyster mushrooms can be a bit hit-and-miss.

Your best opportunity to find oyster mushrooms is at your local grocery store. However, if you don’t have any luck finding any around your area, you may need to try gourmet food specialty stores. In some countries, oyster mushrooms may be considered as a delicacy, rather than an everyday ingredient.

Grow your own oyster mushrooms at home

Did you know growing oyster mushrooms at home is easy and budget friendly? Cultivating mushrooms at home is becoming a increasingly popular trend – especially when it doesn’t involve expensive equipment and a lot of space.

Check out our step-by-step guide to growing oyster mushrooms in a bucket to see how easy it really is!

how to grow oyster mushrooms

Oyster Mushroom Types and Varieties

If you are new to the world of oyster mushrooms, it may tickle your fancy to learn that there are different types of oyster mushrooms around the world. And each have their own subtle nuances that make them unique.

Let’s take a look at some of the more popular varieties.

Blue Oyster Mushrooms

As you may have guessed from the name, blue oyster mushrooms can be identified by their distinct blue hue on the tops of the mushroom caps.

Even though the general rule of collecting and eating things from the wilderness is to avoid any colorful produce, blue oyster mushrooms are completely safe to consume. In fact, you could argue the blue is only a slight shade on the mushroom, and isn’t that flamboyant.

What are blue oyster mushrooms good for?

Blue oyster mushrooms are great for substituting in for regular oyster mushrooms due to the fact that their taste and textures are extremely similar. In fact, if you did a blind test, many people would find it hard to separate the two.

So if your local grocer is out of pearl oyster mushrooms, we recommend trying blue oyster mushrooms in their place.

When to harvest blue oyster mushrooms?

Similar to harvesting other oyster mushrooms that have been cultivated at home, you should be keeping a close watch on the blue oyster mushroom caps. You will know it is time to harvest, when the rims of the mushroom caps go from curving down to up.

With a sharp knife, cut the entire mushroom cluster off in one go. This will help to preserve the mushrooms, and they will keep their delicate texture.

Pink Oyster Mushrooms

what are pink oyster mushrooms good for

Unlike the blue variety, pink oyster mushrooms are actually extremely vibrant pink and easily identifiable when placed next to regular pearl oyster mushrooms. The color on these oyster mushrooms range from a light pink to almost an intense red color.

Unfortunately the mushrooms don’t maintain their color when they are cooked, which is a shame because it would make for some stunning dishes.

What are pink oyster mushrooms good for?

There are some health benefits that the pink oyster mushrooms provide when consumed. A study ran an experiment to observe the effects of the pink variety on the body’s defense system. They found pink oyster mushrooms helped the body with antioxidants and a host of other minerals, to decrease inflammation throughout the body.

When to harvest pink oyster mushrooms?

Similar to other members of the oyster mushroom family, a tell-tale sign that the mushrooms are ready for harvesting is when the edges of the mushroom caps change from drooping down, to curving upwards.

This change will happen quite quickly, so we always recommend keeping a close eye on the mushrooms so that you harvest them at the most opportune time.

Random Bits of Trivia about Oyster Mushrooms

At Garden Bench Top, we always try to inject a bit of fun into our articles, so here are a few tips and trivia about oyster mushrooms.

Why are they called oyster mushrooms?

No – oyster mushrooms did not get their name because they taste like oysters. Rather it is the resemblance of the mushroom caps to the appearance of a freshly shucked oyster.

why are they called oyster mushrooms
oyster vs oyster mushroom

Are oyster mushrooms seafood?

Again the answer to this one is no. As much as the name suggests, oyster mushrooms are very much a part of the fungi family.

Some people describe their taste as having seafood-like flavors, but not strong enough that it would be able to replace actual seafood. They are more commonly known for their nutty and earthy flavor profile.

So vegetarians are free to enjoy the delicacies of oyster mushrooms.

How to clean oyster mushrooms?

Preparing oyster mushrooms for your favorite dishes is easy.

Simply remove the central stalk from the oyster mushroom with a sharp knife (like a paring knife). The mushroom cap should easily come away in a single layer, ready for you to prepare or shop into bite sized pieces.

Our favorite cooking method is pan-fried oyster mushrooms in a heavy skillet with some garlic cloves and butter. You cannot beat it.

How long do oyster mushrooms last and how to store oyster mushrooms?

You can store oyster mushrooms in the fridge for up to one week. We recommend collecting them in a brown paper bag which allows any condensation to absorb or escape – preventing your mushrooms from becoming slimy.

What is the white fuzz on my oyster mushroom?

If you observe some white fuzz on your oyster mushrooms do not fret. It is understandable that you may conclude your mushrooms have gone off and become moldy. However, the white fuzz on the mushrooms are simply it’s way of trying to keep the species going.

To briefly explain, once you harvest your mushrooms, they are still alive and growing. But when it is stored, it’s existence is threatened. In an attempt to continue growing, it releases spores which then grow white mycelium (fine like fibers that are the mushrooms tree like roots).

Fortunately this doesn’t mean your mushrooms have gone bad. The white mycelium is safe to consume. And if you prefer not to eat it, you can simply brush or wipe them off with a damp paper towel.

Can you Freeze oyster mushrooms?

Yes – it is possible to freeze ‘cooked’ oyster mushrooms. However, due to their absorption properties, their texture and flavor may be compromised. We recommend trying to consume them fresh after being cooked.

What Trees do Oyster mushrooms grow on?

In the wild, oyster mushrooms are most commonly found on deciduous trees like oak and beech trees. Like most edible mushrooms, they like growing in the shade in temperate forests, such as those in the United Kingdom.