Oyster mushrooms, as with any mushroom variety out there, can be quite the challenge to grow. As long as you have the patience and take the time to read through the instructions a few times, you truly can grow beautiful, tasty oyster mushrooms on their own. First, learn a little bit more about oyster mushrooms with this mushroom guide and then start growing!
All about Oyster Mushrooms
Oyster mushrooms grow prevalently during autumn, all over trees in the wild. They pop up after the heaviest rains of the season, and they have an interesting, scallop-shaped cap that makes them easy to spot. Their caps are usually a tan color or even a translucent color, and they have a very thick and meaty flesh that many mushroom lovers really enjoy.
You may have heard oyster mushrooms referred to as the “designer mushroom.” This is because these beautiful mushrooms can often come in a variety of colors from different areas of the world. While the standard oyster mushroom is the lighter color described above, they can also come in grays, blues, yellows or even pinks. These beautiful and colorful mushrooms look stunning in a wide variety of dishes, which is why they are so popular.
You’ve probably seen fresh oyster mushrooms (in their usually whitish color) in supermarkets being sold next to button mushrooms. They are not quite as prevalent as buttons, but because they can be grown easier than other varieties, they are becoming more popular.
What are Oyster Mushrooms Used For?
Oyster mushrooms have a tender, taste-packed stem, which blends well in many different dishes out there. They are most often used for cooking, but some of the more colourful types can make a beautiful centre piece that looks just like flowers. Before cooking with oysters, make sure to clean them very thoroughly, while still using as small of an amount of water as possible. Make sure to pat dry before cooking with these mushrooms.
Oysters are most often found in dishes that are Asian in flavor, and are especially tasty in stir-fry dishes. The thin cap of the oyster mushroom will cook very quickly, so if the dish you are cooking the mushroom in takes a while, add the mushrooms near the end of the cooking process. It is wise to cut or tear the mushrooms before cooking to release the flavors. Some people like to fry larger oysters. After cleaning, cut them into large pieces and then dip in beaten eggs. Roll in bread crumbs and then pan-fry for a mouth-watering delight.
Growing Your Own Oyster Mushrooms
If you are a novice mushroom grower, you will find that Oysters are one of the most beginner friendly mushroom types for growing. If you have never tried growing mushrooms, starting with Oysters is a good idea.
Just like with many other mushroom varieties, oyster mushrooms are available in kits that can be found in gardening magazines and seed catalogues. Your local garden supply shop may also have some oyster mushroom kits that will make growing a much more seamless process. Follow the instructions on the kit and you will have thriving oysters in no time. If you prefer to grow yours from scratch, follow our easy instructions.
Everything You Need
To get started on oyster mushrooms from scratch, you will need:
- Shredded Straw
- Plastic Bags
- 5 gallon stock pot
- Large metal drum
- Oyster mushroom spawn (available online from a mushroom supply store)
- Rubbing alcohol
- Mist bottle
Step-by-Step Guide to Growing Oyster Mushrooms
- Step 1
Pasteurize the straw. Do this by immersing it in very hot water for about 45 minutes. You can do this in the stock pot on the stove top in smaller amounts, or you can do this in larger quantities in the metal drum over an open fire. Drain the straw and allow to cool.
- Step 2
Poke many small holes into your plastic bags with a nail (sterilize the nail with rubbing alcohol prior to this step. Place holes 5-6 inches apart.
- Step 3
Mix the straw with your oyster spawn. Read the packet to find out exactly how much straw is required.
- Step 4
Tightly pack the straw (that has been inoculated with the mushroom spawn) into the plastic bags. Make sure there is a little bit of room for the spawn to breathe. Seal the bags tightly.
- Step 5
You want to put the bags into a very warm and moist location that has low light. Usually bathrooms or laundry rooms are ideal. The temperature should be steady between 65 and 80 degrees F.
- Step 6
After about 10 days, the bags should become colonized by the mycelia. White threads or even masses will form within the straw.
- Step 7
After seeing mycelia, you want to shock them with cold. Place the bags in the refrigerator for one day, then put them back in their warm location. You will start to see oyster mushrooms sprouting from the holes in the bag within a couple of days of the cold shock.
- Step 8
Keep the amount of moisture in the bag high by spraying with water from the mist bottle regularly. If the mushrooms appear brown then more water is needed.
- Step 9
Once the mushrooms are about 2 inches in diameter, you can harvest them. Slice through their stem with a very sharp knife. If you want to continue to grow more oyster mushrooms each year, empty your plastic bags of straw into your outdoor garden in a shady spot. They may produce yearly fruiting of oyster mushrooms if you are lucky!