To help you learn about different oyster mushroom types here is the oyster mushroom 101 guide with tips on buying them and the best ways to enjoy them!
As one of the most commonly cultivated mushrooms globally, oyster mushrooms are an excellent ingredient to use in your dishes. These are popular in Asian cuisine but so versatile you’ll love cooking with them.
Oyster mushrooms, or Pleurotus ostreatus, are renowned in Asian countries like Japan, China, and Korea for having a delicate texture and delightful savory flavor.
These mushrooms feature broad, thin oyster-shaped caps that can resemble a fan. You’ll find them in several varieties (discussed further below), but they grow in clusters of small mushrooms or as individual large mushrooms.
Unfortunately, oyster mushrooms tend to be more expensive since they’re rarer than white button mushrooms. But if you spend your money on them, it will be money well-spent since they can benefit your health.
Oyster mushrooms feature numerous nutrients, including fiber, vitamin D, niacin, choline, folate, potassium, iron, phosphorous, and zinc. They’re low in calories, fat, and carbs but high in antioxidants.
Oyster mushrooms have loads of antioxidants that help halt free radical damage, plus they may be beneficial to your heart health. In addition, you can get immune-boosting benefits, which is a necessity these days.
You’ll also find that oyster mushrooms help regulate blood sugar. They’re so versatile ingredients to your cooking, and with their nutritional benefits, they can add something to the meal.
Since they taste great, you surely won’t mind coming up with culinary creations and using them as ingredients!
Pearl oyster mushroom – Pleurotus ostreatus or pearl oyster mushroom, the most common type, especially in North America. It’s slightly sweet yet woodsy in flavor.
Blue oyster mushroom – The blue oyster mushroom is grey with a hint of blue. The caps are dark with pale gills. While they look different from pearl oyster mushrooms, the taste is the same.
Golden oyster mushrooms – Pleurotus citrinopileatus are easy to spot because they have a bright yellow hue. They’re more aromatic and have a more profound complexity in taste compared with the pearl oyster or blue oyster mushrooms.
Pink oyster mushrooms – Pleurotus salmoneo stramineus, are noticeably bright pink in hue. They’re also quite ruffled in appearance. The pink color will fade when exposed to heat. They have a hard and woodier texture than the other varieties while being far more pungent.
Phoenix oyster mushrooms – Pleurotus pulmonarius, look like the pearl oyster mushroom; however, it has caps that are smaller and paler with a longer stem. This variety of oyster mushrooms thrives in warmer temperatures and grows in the latter portion of summer. The taste is akin to pearl oyster mushrooms.
King oyster mushroom – Pleurotus eryngii, are the largest. It looks completely different than the other oyster mushroom varieties, growing individually with thick, white stems and caps that are tan in color. These grow natively in Asia, the Mediterranean, the Middle East, and Northern Africa.
These mushrooms are milder than other varieties as they aren’t quite as earthy, making them fit right into many different dishes. The texture becomes tender and delightful when you fry, roast, or grill them.
The flavors reveal a hint of seafood taste, often with a subtle finish of anise or black licorice. It’s lovely to braise or sauté for a softer texture than other cooking methods.
Oyster mushrooms may be rarer than the button varieties you usually see at supermarkets and grocery stores.
You should see them in your produce section. However, if the mushroom selection in your supermarket is bleak, you can always try an Asian market where you can find them both fresh and dried.
If you want fresh mushrooms, choose bright colors and a springy texture. There should be no dark spots or wilted areas. Dark spots mean that the mushrooms have taken in more moisture and are going bad.
You can also buy them dried, which will give you more time to use them up. Keep dried oyster mushrooms in an airtight container away from light, and they will retain their delightful aroma.
Like any mushroom, you should be careful to keep moisture away. Oyster mushroom is sensitive to water and can quickly develop a moldy appearance, or dark spots.
A paper bag will work best to contain fresh oyster mushrooms in your fridge. They’ll be suitable for up to three days, so make plans to use them quickly. Since fresh oyster mushrooms are so delicate, they will begin wilting quickly. They will turn tough and dry if you forget them and won’t be good anymore.
With dried oyster mushrooms, you get more leeway. You can keep them in an airtight container, keeping them away from light and heat. They will last for a year when they are dried and stored correctly.
As for cooked dishes such as fried oyster mushrooms, you can enjoy those leftovers for up to 3 days from your fridge. While raw oyster mushrooms are not suitable for freezing as it destroys the delicate texture, cooked oyster mushrooms will hold up for as long as three months in your freezer.
Thankfully, oyster mushrooms are easy to prepare. They’re not too dirty since they grow on wood. However, use caution as oyster mushrooms will be ruined if waterlogged.
You can gently wipe them with a damp cloth, or if you are using many, you can rinse them. The key is quick with the rinse and then drying them off. You don’t want them to get bogged up with water and ruin this delicious mushroom’s incredible flavor and texture.
Preparing them for use in your recipes is easy too. Using a sharp knife tip, cut carefully around that firm stem, and the caps will all fall away with ease. You can throw the stalk away, but a better idea is to use it for adding to stock or creating a savory vegetable broth to use as a base for soups, stews, and sauces.
Cultivated oyster mushrooms are usually not as dirty. Follow the tips above on cleaning them, and you’ll have them ready to use in any way you want in your recipes.
Once your oyster mushrooms are clean and ready, you can sauté them, stir-fry them, braise them, roast them, fry them, or even grill them. If you prefer not to cut them, you can cook them whole.
It is safe to eat raw oyster mushrooms, but they may taste metallic. Cooking them let them exhibit those treasured flavors that have earned them fame worldwide. The spongey texture becomes almost velvet-like when cooked.
You can also choose your dried oyster mushrooms for your recipes. Unlike other dried mushrooms, you do not need to soak them to rehydrate them. You can toss them right into what you’re cooking, and they’ll be infused with the liquids immediately, taking on those tastes while imparting their flavors.
Perhaps the best way to cook your oyster mushrooms is by sauteing or stir-fry. It would help if you preheated your pan to get it smoking hot. Ideally, you’ll throw them in first, so the moisture cooks off. In this way, they will sauté beautifully instead of a more steamed flavor.
There are so many other ways to add oyster mushrooms to your recipes. The sky is the limit, but here are some tasty suggestions you’re sure to love:
Once you start cooking with oyster mushrooms, you’ll only wish you’d added them to your recipes sooner. But now that you know where to find them and how to cook them, you can elevate your meals with their unique flavors. Likely, you’ll even find new ways to prepare them using your old recipes with a mushroom twist that everyone will love!