Have you ever seen an oyster-shaped mushroom in your garden and wondered if they are edible? If yes, you will be glad to know that they are entirely edible and full of nutrients.
The scientific name for an oyster mushroom is Pleurotusostreatus, and it is the most common edible mushroom used and cultivated worldwide. They grow naturally in moderate climates and tropical forests and thrive on decaying wooden logs.
Apart from being used as food, they are also used to decontaminate the environment on an industrial basis. The taste and flavor of oyster mushrooms are subtle, and the color can vary among its types. Oyster mushrooms can be white, cream, grey, yellow, pink, or dark brown, depending upon their species and varieties.
They are similar in shape to oysters and have a flavor that resembles oysters, so they are called oyster mushrooms. They have a delicate taste and are used in various cuisines, including Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and Asian dishes.
Brief History of Oyster Mushroom
The history of oyster mushrooms is as old as the history of man. They grew wild in Asia, Europe, and North America and were first cultivated in Germany for subsistence measures to overcome food shortages during World War 1. Chinese and Japanese used these mushrooms for medical purposes. The commercial cultivation of oyster mushrooms began sometime around the 1940s. Oyster mushrooms were thought to be the food of gods by the Romans.
Types of Oyster Mushrooms
There are a variety of oyster mushrooms that exist in the world, but some of them are poisonous. Some types of edible oyster mushrooms are listed below.
1. Pearl Oyster (Pleurotus Ostreatus)
Pearl oyster, the most common type of oyster mushroom, is typically found in North America, growing profusely. The taste of pearl oyster is woody and a little sweet. It is similar to shiitake mushrooms but is milder and more tender.
2. Golden Oyster (Pleurotus Citrinopileatus)
As the name suggests, they are a bright yellow color. These mushrooms are typically found in North Asia and cultivated in China. They are more fragrant than pearl oysters and exist in the form of clusters.
3. King Oyster (Pleurotuseryngii)
Unlike the other oyster mushrooms, king oysters grow individually and have a thick meaty stem with a brown cap. This type of oyster mushroom is generally grown in Asia, North Africa, the Middle East, and the Mediterranean. Another name of the king oyster mushroom is king trumpet oyster mushroom.
4. Blue Oyster (Pleurotus Columbinus)
The blue oysters are given this name because they are blue when they start growing, and when they are fully grown, their color turns greyish. They have dark-colored caps and pale stems. The taste of blue oysters is the same as pearl oysters, and it’s hard to distinguish between the two types.
5. Pink Oyster (Pleurotus Salmoneo-stramineus)
These beautiful frilled mushrooms have a bright pink color and grow in high temperatures. Contrary to the charming color, the smell is more pungent than the other types, and the taste is woodier. These mushrooms lose their vibrant color when they are cooked.
6. Phoenix Oyster (Pleurotus pulmonarius)
The phoenix oyster is similar to the pearl oyster, but it has a longer stem and a smaller cap. Moreover, the color is also pale.
The oyster mushrooms are rich in nutrients and very beneficial for health. According to NSDA, a raw mushroom cup (86 g) contains the following nutritional value.
- Carbohydrates: 5.2 g
- Fiber: 2 g
- Sugar: 0.95
- Protein: 2.9 g
- Fats: 0.3 g
- Calories: 28
- Sodium: 15.5 mg
Other than these, oyster mushrooms also contain nutrients like potassium, magnesium, vitamin C, vitamin B6, and folic acid. Overall, these mushrooms are a complete health package for you.
Health Benefits of Oyster Mushrooms
The list of the complete health benefits of oyster mushrooms is very long; here are some common ones.
Rich in antioxidants
Antioxidants are good for our health and prevent our bodies from damage caused by free radicals. According to research, oyster mushrooms are packed with antioxidants and keep us safe from various diseases by regulating the amount of harmful free radicals in the body.
Boost immune system
Research shows that oyster mushrooms are rich in vitamin C and complex carbohydrates that naturally boost our immune system, keeping us safe from infectious diseases.
Good for heart health
Oyster mushrooms have no cholesterol, and they are rich in fiber and vitamin B3; this makes them excellent for your heart health. Consumption of these mushrooms reduces high blood sugar levels, and cardiovascular problems are also decreased. So if you want to prevent yourself from cardiac issues without spending too much on expensive treatments, oyster mushrooms could be a good option, as is proven by research.
Reduce the risk of cancer
Research indicates that oyster mushrooms’ antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties make them great anti-cancer food. They suppress the growth of cancer cells in the body, especially breast cancer and colon cancer.
Regulate blood pressure
Our body needs vitamin D to regulate the high blood pressure level. The foods having a considerable amount of it, like oyster mushrooms, are proven good for lowering blood pressure.
Besides health benefits, oyster mushrooms have several beauty benefits. Let us look at them in detail.
- Oyster mushrooms have anti-aging properties that reduce uneven spots and de-coloration of the skin, leaving your skin healthy and young without creating a dent in your pocket.
- These mushrooms are rich in nutrients that are beneficial for your hair and keep them healthy, shiny, and strong.
- Vitamin B3 is found in oyster mushrooms. This vitamin helps prevent acne and reduces the redness and irritation caused by acne.
Some Side Effects of Oyster Mushrooms
Although oyster mushrooms are safe to use and have no side effects if consumed properly, sometimes there might be adverse reactions.
- Some people are allergic to mushrooms. They should avoid using them.
- If consumed in large quantities, stomach problems such as nausea or diarrhea may occur.
- Always make sure you are consuming edible mushrooms. Non-edible mushrooms are poisonous and might be harmful.
Role in Disease Prevention
The nutrients found in oyster mushrooms, such as calcium, sodium, potassium, vitamins, and minerals, along with their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, help treat various health issues and boost our body’s immune system and provide protection against several infectious diseases.
Some Interesting Facts about Oyster Mushrooms
- Oyster mushrooms feed on decaying matter mostly.
- They have a unique smell.
- These mushrooms exist in many beautiful colors.
Buying Oyster Mushrooms
When you are doing it yourself, it is pretty tricky to pick the right kind of oyster mushrooms as they have some toxic look-alikes, commonly known as Western Jack o’Lantern and Ivory Funnel. Therefore, it is vital that you pick up the right kind of mushrooms.
The characteristic color of oyster mushrooms is light gray or grayish-brown, so you can easily spot them in the wild. However, there are various other colors of oyster mushrooms cultivated. These mushrooms typically grow in clusters and appear to be positioned in a shelf-like structure. One of the critical indicators of their freshness is their white firm flesh and gills.
If you are buying oyster mushrooms at a superstore, ensure that the clusters of mushrooms do not have dark spots. Wilted flesh indicates moisture content in the bag which can speedily spoil the rest of the batch.
Tips to Storing Oyster Mushrooms
Drying Oyster Mushrooms
It is important to dry the oyster mushrooms before storing them. The flat shape of these mushrooms makes it easier to dry them out by laying them flat on a large tray lined with an absorbent kitchen towel. You can also dry these mushrooms by cutting them in half-centimeter slices, arranging them evenly on the baking tray, and baking each side for an hour. You have to preheat the oven to about 150 degrees.
Refrigerating oyster mushrooms is the best option if you do it with care. You can use big plastic bags that seal properly to store these mushrooms. Let the oyster mushrooms cool entirely before storing them in an airtight container.
It is best to wrap dried mushrooms in a towel and then store them in a plastic bag. If you want to store a large bunch of oyster mushrooms, it is best to freeze them. To freeze the mushrooms, boil them for 3 minutes first, immediately transfer them to a cold water bath, drain them properly, and freeze them in sealable freezer bags.
Oyster mushrooms are packed with beneficial nutrients and antioxidants, making them valuable for our overall health and our body’s disease prevention mechanism. These benefits make oyster mushrooms a must-have food for us all.