Wild Edible: Fungus-Oyster Mushroom (Pleurotus Ostreatus)

The oyster mushroom is one of the common and plentiful species of mushroom in woodlands. They appear on dead and fallen logs in woodlands because they are saprophytic (decomposer of dead material). Sometimes they will appear to grow out of the ground, however in this case they must be growing out of a buried decomposing log. The oyster mushroom has fantastic texture qualities that truly rival seafood. They have a fan shape that grows directly out of the substrate with true gills that continue down to the base. Many times they will grow clustered. There is no stipe (stem) present. The color is usually pale but can be blue, pink and grey. I have found these all year round, though they are most prevalent in the late fall. There are no toxic lookalikes, however there are two lookalikes that smell bad: Orange Mock Oyster Mushroom and Stalkless Paxillus. To be sure of a proper identification be sure to take a spore print. The spore print for all species of Oyster Mushroom will be white to lilac color. (Let me know if you want some guidance in taking a spore print).

This oyster mushroom was grown indoors on a base of oak pellets and soy hulls.
Cultivated Blue Oyster Mushrooms

Methods of preparation are quite typical for any other conventional button mushroom. When harvested from the forest, I prepare the mushrooms by soaking them in salt water for about 20 minutes. If I want to be sure that no insects are hiding in the mushrooms, I will steam them for another 10 minutes. After the initial preparation, the mushrooms can be sautéed in olive oil and garlic, added to mushroom soup, or added into a stir fry. They will lose mass during cooking but the texture remains.

This specimen was frozen and past its prime. I only took its photo and left it on the log.
Frozen Oyster Mushroom

The purported health benefits of oyster mushrooms are plenty. Oysters are known to contain the most fiber of most mushrooms, and it contains protein, minerals and vitamins. Mushrooms exposed to sunlight were shown to have increased Vitamin D. Eating oyster mushrooms can regulate blood pressure and strengthen the immune system. These delicious edible mushrooms add layers of flavor and texture to your meal and support a healthy lifestyle.

I have had this recurring experience with foraging that whenever I go looking for something in particular, the forest always foils my expectations. I go in looking for Oysters based on time of year and the location that I would likely find them, and I come out with something else that was unexpected. The forest always provides something, whether it be for physical, emotional or spiritual fulfillment, it just doesn't serve up your exact expectation. I think this is an interested perspective on Shefa. Checking expectation in order to be open to true needs.

Have you had any experiences with Forest foraging? Oyster Mushrooms? I would be grateful for feedback.

I found these in a park in urban Cincinnati. You can see a healthy bouquet growing from the log and some "pinning" or the primordial stage. In this case I would only harvest the healthier bouquet and allow the rest to grow.
Urban Oyster Mushrooms

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