When I am out in the woods, I love taking a look around to see what is growing in nature, especially mushrooms. There are so many types of mushrooms, both edible and inedible, growing in the wild. Mushrooms are the fruit body of fungi and the various shapes, sizes, colors, and how they grow intrigue me. There is an element of mystery around mushrooms.
Introducing the Blue Oyster Mushroom
This past winter, thanks to a gift I received from my family, I was introduced to yet another type of mushroom, Blue Oyster. While I have come across oyster mushrooms in the wild, I had never seen the blue version. The gift was a Blue Oyster Mushroom kit from North Spore LLC. The mushrooms were very easy to grow thanks to the small guide that comes with the kit.
Oyster Mushrooms are the Most Cultivated Mushrooms
Oyster (Pleurotus) mushrooms, the most cultivated mushrooms, are recognized by their shelf-like appearance, growing in overlapping clusters on living or dead trees. Closely spaced gills run down the stem which may be short, stubby, or non-existent. The caps are fan-shaped with a smooth upper surface. Colors can range from dark gray (blue), brown, tan, pink, and yellow. They are meaty in appearance from the underside where the white gills come together under the cap. Oyster mushrooms resemble an oyster that you would see on the ocean coast or at market. They are soft with a slightly chewy texture, and when cooked, they have a mild and nutty, seafood-like flavor.
I was curious to learn more about the Blue Oyster mushroom and other edible oyster mushrooms found in the woods. Here’s what I learned:
Benefits of eating oyster mushrooms:
- Lower cholesterol
- Provide a valuable source of vitamin D, protein, fiber, potassium, vitamin B6, and folate.
- Help to reduce inflammation
- Low-calorie food — One cup of sliced oysters is only 37 calories!
Growing my own Blue Oyster Mushrooms was quite rewarding.
I documented my progress of growing Blue Oyster Mushrooms by taking pictures. Below is the growing process:
- Day 1. I read the directions to my North Spore Blue Oyster Mushroom kit and activated it by spritzing water on the sliced plastic where the mushrooms would be growing. Watering is a 1-2 times per day activity throughout the growing process.
- Days 3 – 11. The colonization of mushroom mycelium, the white substance began to cover the block until it was fully encompassed with mycelium.
- Days 12-14. Pinning occurred, when rhizomorphs (tiny white pin headed dots) formed under the plastic covering.
- Day 15. Tiny clustered mushrooms resembling white bumps pushed out from under the plastic covering, some looking very strange in appearance.
- Days 16-19. Two clusters began to grow large very rapidly, connecting, and curved tops began to flatten.
- Day 20. I twisted off the cluster of mushrooms from the box and immediately noticed how they looked like fresh shucked oysters. The smell reminded me of being in the woods, an earthly aroma. They felt a little rubbery. I was pretty excited to see how these would last.
I chose to use my newly grown blue oyster mushrooms in a recipe and they were delicious. I sautéed the mushrooms with a little olive oil, garlic, onion, herbs and white wine. I did have leftovers which were refrigerated and decided to put the remainder in a sausage roll that I would bake the following day. That too turned out very tasty!
You can find my recipe using these wonderful mushrooms adapted from North Spore’s famous Mushroom Recipe here.
As directions state on the North Spore Blue Oyster Mushroom kit, I let the plant rest and did not water it. One week later, I was surprised to see my oysters reappear. Apparently this kit can grow oyster mushrooms several times which makes me think of other dishes that I can experiment with.
If you are interested in learning more about mushrooms, I would highly recommend connecting with someone in your local area who is well educated on identifying edible fungi and foraging. It’s common to find “imposter” mushrooms that look like an edible variety but are poisonous. In Western Pennsylvania I recommend, The Western Pennsylvania Mushroom Club and on YouTube, Introduction To Wild Mushrooms with Adam Haritan (Learn Your Land) and INaturalist.org.