Oyster mushrooms do not taste like oysters but rather get their name from their resemblance to the shellfish. Oyster mushrooms are among the most abundant of wild mushrooms. They can be found throughout the year, most often on the trunks of dead trees.
Oyster mushrooms are the third largest cultivated mushroom. China, the world leader in Oyster production, contributes nearly 85% of the total world production of about a million tonnes.
Oyster mushrooms are grown in bags of composted sawdust. The bags are sterilized, then inoculated with mushroom spawn (seed) placed inside the bag.
A characteristic of oyster mushrooms is that they have an eccentric (off-centre) stem or sometimes even no stem at all. Oyster mushrooms are very likely the most perishable of mushrooms. They must be kept between 1 and 4 degrees C.
Their colour can vary slightly depending on variety, from pale gray, to light beige, and sometimes pink or yellow. Oyster Mushrooms are similar to the Chanterelle with a more delicate flavor and coloring.
Oyster mushrooms have a subtle flavour and while very popular in Asian dishes can be used in just about any dish that calls for mushrooms. Mature oyster mushrooms are considerably larger and will be chewier but tend to be sweeter and have more flavor.
Oyster mushrooms have been revered for thousands of years as both a food and a medicine in both Eastern and mid-European cultures. Oyster mushrooms are rich in protein, vitamin C, niacin, folic acid and potassium. The protein content varies between 1.6 to 2.5 percent.
Oyster mushrooms contain most of the mineral salts required by the human body. Their niacin content is about ten times higher than any other vegetables and the folic acid in oyster mushrooms helps to cure anemia.
Oyster mushrooms are a natural source of statin (cholesterol lowering) drugs. Studies have shown that they typically contain 0.4% to 2.7% statins.
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