Oyster mushrooms are among the mushroom varieties that anyone can easily buy from the supermarket. The name is in reference to how this mushroom looks like – an oyster.
This mushroom is also known as oyster cap mushroom, shimeji, tamogitake, hiratake (flat mushroom), tree mushroom, straw mushroom, oyster shelf, white rot fungus and elephant mushroom. It is scientifically called Pleurotus ostreatus.
It grows readily in various substrates. It can thrive on fallen logs, at the base of fallen trees, and on organic wastes such as straw and sawdust.
Another amazing fact about oyster mushroom is that it is among the few types of carnivorous mushrooms. It can kill and then digest soil nematodes. This is believed to be how the mushroom obtains the nitrogen it needs for growth.
What do Oyster Mushrooms look like?
The mushroom looks like a daffodil flower with a white stem.
The caps come in different colors, white being the most commonly sold. Oyster mushrooms may also be in yellow, grey, and dark brown. There are also some pink oyster mushrooms. The colors are a result of the conditions where the mushroom grew.
Also, the taste of the mushroom is affected by the growing conditions. White and pink oyster mushrooms have very mild tastes. The darker blue, black and gold oyster mushrooms have a more intense, robust flavor.
The aroma of oyster mushrooms is bittersweet, reminiscent of bitter almonds. This is due the presence of benzaldehyde.
The cap is broad and grows to 5 to 25 cm. When the mushroom is still young, the cap is rolled inwards. It is also slightly wavy or lobed and smooth. The mushroom has a white flesh. The thickness varies depending on the arrangement of the stipe (stalk). Most often, the stipe is not very evident. If it does grow prominently, it is thick and short. The color of the gills ranges from white to cream.
Where can Pleurotus Ostreatus be found?
Oyster mushrooms thrive well in many types of environments. It commonly grows in subtropical and temperate forests. It is not, however, seen growing naturally in the Pacific Northwest region of North America.
Pink oyster mushroom naturally grows in the warm tropics. It thrives best in warmer temperatures, becomingly excellently productive during the mid-summer season. The color is a vibrant pink, with a ruffled look to the caps.
Black oyster mushrooms have a bold flavor. The texture of the cap is soft. The color, as well as the flavor, intensifies when the mushroom is exposed longer to sunlight.
Blue oyster mushrooms grow well in cooler temperatures. The ideal is at 65 degrees Fahrenheit.
The golden oyster mushroom is native to Japan, northern China and eastern Russia. The caps have a yellow hue similar to daffodils.
White oysters are the most widely available and commonly used for cooking. It easily grows and is extremely productive.
Oyster mushrooms can be found growing robustly on dead, fallen trees. It uses the decaying wood as its source of nutrition.
Health Benefits of Oyster Mushrooms
Oyster mushrooms are used for various therapeutic medicinal purposes. Its wealth of nutrients and other powerful antioxidant compounds promote various alternative health benefits such as:
The compound ergothioneine leads the list of compounds in oyster mushrooms that promote better immune health. It helps in protecting the cells and in enhancing immune responses against infections.
Protects against infections
Oyster mushrooms also have very powerful anti-microbial and antibacterial properties. The compounds the mushroom releases to digest organic material from nature and use it for food is also the same compounds that can help combat infections in the body.
Another compound is benzaldehyde. It has powerful antibacterial actions.
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Regulates cholesterol levels
Oyster mushrooms can greatly help people who suffer from problems with high blood pressure and cholesterol levels. This mushroom is naturally low in sodium, an important dietary concern among those with high blood pressures.
Statins are also abundant in oyster mushrooms. These compounds naturally lower the levels of cholesterol in the body. It acts just like the statin drugs used for lowering cholesterol.
Active compounds in Pleurotus Ostreatus
Oyster mushrooms are rich in nutrients and bioactive compounds such as the following:
- Statins, such as lovastatin
- Vitamin D
- Panthotenic acid
- Folic acid
- Vitamin C
What do oyster mushrooms look like?
Its name is in reference to how the mushroom tastes. Oyster mushrooms do not taste like a typical mushroom. The taste is more similar to shellfish or oysters. As an edible medicinal mushroom it was first cultivated during the food shortages in Germany during WW II.