Oyster mushrooms of this variety are often white but can also be gray or brown. They create stunning, sturdy, medium-sized clusters. It is a typical temperate oyster mushroom and may flourish on various materials, including paper, cardboard, straw, sterilized sawdust, and other agricultural waste.
The first mushroom that made simple home-growing and small-scale mushroom farming possible was the pearl oyster mushroom. This article will go into great detail about this oyster mushroom variety.
How Can You Identify Pearl Oyster Mushrooms?
The mushroom cap is broad, fan- or oyster-shaped and measures 2–30 cm (3–11–34 in); wild specimens range in color from white to gray or tan to dark brown; the edge is smooth and frequently somewhat lobed or wavy when young. The mushroom's white to cream-colored gills, if present, descend on the stalk. If so, the stipe has a lateral attachment to wood and is off-center.
Due to the configuration of the stripes, the flesh is white, hard, and varies in thickness. The mushroom's spore print is best seen against a dark background and ranges in color from white to lilac-gray. Frequently, there is no stripe on the mushroom. It is short and thick when it is there.
What are the General Characteristics of Pearl Oyster Mushrooms?
One variant of the oyster mushroom species that is readily available is the pearl oyster mushroom (Pleurotus ostreatus). These mushrooms are widely available at supermarkets and grocers. Mushrooms of the said species are grown for food production on a commercial scale all over the world.
The name "pearl oyster" comes from the way they appear. They have a pearl-like look and range in color from cream to gray. The general shape of the mushroom resembles a seashell, much like similar oyster mushrooms. This factor could have influenced the name as well.
Similar to blue oysters, the pearl oyster mushroom is a cool-weather species.
Pearl oyster mushrooms can be used in various culinary preparations, much like their oyster mushroom counterparts. They also possess certain medical qualities, which are other excellent reasons why these mushrooms are a favorite breed.
What other Mushrooms look similar to Pearl Oyster Mushrooms?
The jack-o-lantern mushroom is the oyster mushroom that resembles it most frequently. It can resemble an oyster mushroom in appearance and flourish in a setting similar to that.
The color is the most obvious way to distinguish a jack-o-lantern mushroom from a pearl oyster mushroom. The color of a jack-o-lantern mushroom ranges from orange to yellow. On the other hand, Pearl oysters are gray or cream in hue.
Most mushrooms that resemble pearl oyster mushrooms aren't very dangerous. However, some doppelgängers, like the jack-o-lantern mushroom, can seriously upset the stomach.
I recommend this post for an in-depth discussion of jack-o-lantern mushrooms. (Link to article about jack-o-lantern mushrooms)
Ivory funnel mushrooms
The toxic ivory funnel mushroom (Clitocybe dealbata) is another pearl oyster mushroom that looks like you must know. It may pose as an oyster, except that its gills end at the base of the stem. It is almost impossible to tell it apart from the Fool's Funnel, and the two species are frequently referred to as one.
Ghost fungus mushrooms
The ghost fungus mushroom (Omphalotus nidiformis) possesses bioluminescent qualities; thus, it genuinely glows at night. You should avoid eating it, though, as it is harmful. Although it is not fatal, it will give you severe cramps and make you throw up.
Since the gills go all the way down the stem, it does resemble an oyster mushroom. While it's simple to discern the difference at night, it might be trickier during the day. Usually, ghost fungus mushrooms are located only in Australia, Japan, and India. Therefore, you need not worry about it if you are not a local of the mentioned countries.
Where Do Pearl Oyster Mushrooms Grow?
In many temperate and subtropical woods around the world, oyster mushrooms are expected; however, in the Pacific Northwest of North America, Pleurotus pulmonarius and Pleurotus populinus have taken their place. This fungus causes white-rot wood degradation. It is a saprophyte that mostly decomposes wood, notably beech trees and other deciduous trees.
Indoor cultivation of pearl oyster mushrooms is commonplace. There is a low demand for wild foraged ones because they can be cultivated all year round and are simple to grow.
The most significant time to seek wild oyster mushrooms resembling pearl oysters is in the fall.
Cooler temperatures are preferred for pearl oysters. Therefore, compared to other varieties, pearl oysters should be more akin to the wild oysters you encounter during cold seasons. There have been sightings of pearl oyster mushrooms in forests from temperate and subtropical climates worldwide.
After significant weather changes, your chances of locating wild oysters are at their highest, for instance, following a frost or a stretch of consecutive rainy days.
Can You Eat Pearl Oyster Mushrooms?
The answer to the question above is an emphatic "Yes." The pearly oyster mushrooms are known edibles in the world of culinary mushrooms. The scientific name for oyster mushrooms is Pleurotus, and they are sought after for their savory, flavorful foods that are also regarded as medicinal. There are so many fantastic variations, and each one differs in terms of flavor, aroma, and consistency.
The most prevalent oyster in North America is the pearl oyster. It has a soft, chewy texture and a practically nutty flavor.
If you can accurately identify them, pearl oyster mushrooms are entirely edible and non-toxic.
However, I do not advise eating wild mushrooms unless you're confident you can positively identify them.
Buy oyster mushrooms from trusted vendors if you want to be sure that what you are ingesting are edible oyster mushrooms. Purchase oyster mushrooms grown commercially rather than those gathered from the wild.
It is always possible to have a food allergy to oyster mushrooms, just like any other food. This fact should make us cautious about ingesting pearl oyster mushrooms we find in the wild because there are look-a-likes of the mushrooms that could be toxic.
What Are the Health Benefits of Pearl Oyster Mushrooms?
The unique nutritional profile of oyster mushrooms accounts for most of their fantastic health benefits. Because they are low in calories, fat, and cholesterol, mushrooms are generally very good for overall health and weight loss.
The same is true of oyster mushrooms, pearl oysters included, which have just 28 calories, 1 g of fat, 2 g of dietary fiber, and 3 g of protein per cup. Because they include a variety of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants in addition to the essentials, oyster mushrooms also offer excellent nutritional value.
Additionally, oyster mushrooms provide 8% of the required daily intake for essential elements such
- Vitamin B6
- Vitamin B
- Vitamin B12 (folate)
- Vitamin C
- Pantothenic acid
- Amino acids
What follows is a list of health benefits that pearl oyster mushrooms bring to the human body:
They are packed with antioxidants.
Beta-glucans, ergothioneine, gallic acid, and phenolic acid are some of the powerful antioxidants you'll find present in oyster mushrooms. In the body, these antioxidants effectively serve as free-radical scavengers to stop any harm they can cause.
By limiting cellular damage, antioxidants also delay the aging of the skin and internal organs. Ergothioneine, an antioxidant, functions explicitly as a cytoprotectant. It is a chemical that defends cells. As a result, it can protect against various neurological diseases that develop with aging. For instance, it wards against Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, and other forms of dementia.
They can lower blood sugar levels.
Another excellent benefit of pearl oyster mushrooms is they can regulate blood sugar. Oyster mushrooms, just like pearl oysters, can effectively lower the blood sugar level of people diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.
A study reveals that persons who consume powdered oyster mushrooms have lower postprandial or post-meal blood glucose levels. Because oyster mushrooms deactivate the enzymes that raise insulin and blood sugar levels, this is the case. (Link to study: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7230384/)
Additionally, the high amounts of beta-glucans in these mushrooms slow down the digestion and absorption of carbohydrates in the intestines. As a result, it stops blood sugar from rising suddenly after eating. Additionally, it can allow the body enough time to metabolize glucose effectively.
They possess antiviral and antibacterial properties.
Pearl oyster mushrooms can help boost the body's immune system. Oyster mushrooms, for instance, possess both antiviral and antibacterial characteristics. They consequently enhance interferons, antiviral immunological chemicals—making it easier for our immune system to combat several viral infections and disorders of the respiratory tract.
A study also reveals that oyster mushroom extracts may prevent the growth of some prevalent bacterial infections, including E. Staphylococcus aureus and E. coli. These can potentially cause respiratory tract infections, skin infections, and gastrointestinal illnesses. (Link to the study: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26349515/)
Oyster mushrooms' ribonucleic proteins, phenolic chemicals, benzaldehyde, and steroids have antibacterial characteristics. These substances prevent the development of numerous bacterial and viral species.
They help your heart.
As we all know, the heart is one of our body's most essential organs. By keeping it healthy, we are practically prolonging our life, so we should seek to consume heart-friendly foods. The pearl oyster mushroom belongs to such a group.
Oyster mushrooms may improve cardiovascular health by lowering heart disease risk factors like high cholesterol and blood pressure. Pleurotus ostreatus has a very high concentration of beta-glucans, a fiber that promotes heart health. (Link to study: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23104078/)
Short-chain fatty acids are created when gut bacteria ferment beta-glucans, and they can aid in lowering your body's creation of cholesterol. Interestingly, white button mushrooms (Agaricus bisporus) provide half as many beta-glucans as P. ostreatus.
They may lessen the risk of getting cancer.
This health benefit could be the most significant one knowing that we live in an age where cancer affects a significant number of the human population, making it a leading cause of death worldwide.
In terms of cancer cells, oyster mushrooms have antitumor and anti-metastatic capabilities. They might stop cancer cells from growing and migrating throughout the body. Oyster mushrooms, for instance, may prevent colon and breast cancer cells from growing and increasing, according to a human study. This is because oyster mushrooms contain the bioactive substance beta-glucan. (Link to study: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2796484/)
Early on, beta-glucan interferes with the cell cycle of tumor cells. It thereby prevents them from growing and migrating to other bodily parts.
How Can You Grow Pearl Oyster Mushrooms?
Pearl oyster mushroom cultivation involves both art and science. Even after cultivating mushrooms for a long time, experienced growers continue to discover new things. The mushrooms could teach you something new just as you begin to believe you have it all figured out.
It can be challenging to grow mushrooms at your own pace, where you want, and when you want. However, your chances of success are high if you can learn to provide mushrooms with precisely what they require at the right time.
To be a practical pearl oyster mushroom grower, you should know the three basic steps: inoculation, colonization, and fruiting.
In the first phase, called inoculation, you add mushroom grain spawn (seed) to an appropriate substrate (soil). You can make your grain spawn at home or buy it already created.
The spawn should be added at a rate of roughly 10%. This ratio implies that you should add around 2 pounds of spawn for every 20 lbs of a substrate. To obtain the most "inoculation points" possible, ensure that you mixed spawn properly.
Following inoculation, the spawn will begin to spread out and grow across its new territory as soon as it is introduced to the substrate, consuming nutrients as it does.
The term "colonization" refers to this process. The mycelium will ultimately consume the new substrate within a few weeks, at which point it is referred to as being "totally colonized."
The substrate will continue to thicken once it has been wholly colonized until it has been entirely cemented. Little pins will eventually begin to form.
If nurtured properly, these needles will eventually develop into fully developed mushroom "fruits" that you can pick and consume.
Now that we have discussed the three fundamental steps of growing mushrooms, pearl oysters included, let us now dig into the different ways of cultivating pearl oyster mushrooms. Here are the three generic approaches to cultivating pearl oyster mushrooms: using a growing kit, using pre-made spawn, and using culture.
Using a Growing Kit
This approach is the ideal choice for those who have never grown mushrooms.
It can provide a reasonably solid understanding of the mushroom growing process and takes very little equipment (apart from the kit).
Growing mushrooms from a kit serve as a helpful introduction to more complicated methods later on. Most mushroom kits are "fruiting blocks" that have been infested and are ready to bear fruit as soon as you bring them home.
Here are the things you will need to grow pearl oyster mushrooms from a growing kit:
- Mushroom growing kit
- Spray bottle
- Bag with silts or shotgun fruiting chamber
Mycelium needs to be re-energized to fruit after lying dormant for some time. The best option is to cut a slice in the bag, expose part of the block, and set it upside down in a bowl of water. Leave it there for 12 to 24 hours so it can rehydrate.
You do not need a complete grow room to grow pearl oyster mushrooms. Set the block on a shelf far from the sun. Remember that pearl oyster mushrooms prefer to grow in the temperature range of 12 to 18 C (53 to 64 F). Use a spray bottle to wet the slit and the block many times daily to ensure it will not dry out.
You'll notice little Oyster pins developing on the block after about a week. At this point, keep the area moist and keep an eye on them so you can harvest them before they release spores. You should get fully developed mushrooms in less than a week after the pins form.
Using Pre-made Spawn
If you prefer DIY approaches since you want to be more involved in the process, using pre-made spawn is a fantastic alternative. Many small farms and businesses start mushroom cultivation from ready-made, commercially accessible spawns.
Selecting a Substrate
You must first select a substrate. Oyster mushrooms prefer numerous materials, including hardwood, sawdust, supplemented sawdust, straw, masters' mix, coffee grounds, paper, and other ingredients.
Grain spawn is more nutrient-dense than sawdust spawn and more prone to contamination. The most popular spawn is created by letting mushroom mycelium spread over sterilized grain. It can be prepared from various grains, including rice, rye, milo, sorghum, oats, and wheat berries.
Similar in idea to grain spawn but produced by mycelium spreading out on sawdust. It grows more slowly and has fewer nutrients, but it is less prone to contamination.
Using a Culture
To create spawn, sterilized grains—usually rye, wheat berries, sorghum, brown rice, or a combination of these—are inoculated with mushroom culture. Eventually, the mycelium will encircle and engulf the grain, consuming the nutrients.
The spawn can be divided and moved to a bilk substrate once it has fully colonized, where it will continue growing and finally transform into mushrooms.
How Can You Store Pearl Oyster Mushrooms?
There are five practical ways to store pearl oyster mushrooms that will keep them edible.
Inside the freezer
Preservation period: Up to 1 month
Freezing is a fantastic choice if you want your oyster mushrooms to remain fresh for around a month. If they are kept in an airtight container or special freezer bag, you can place pearl oysters in the freezer raw or stir-fried. All you have to do to get them ready to use again is let them thaw out for a few minutes.
Inside the fridge
Preservation period: Up to 1 week
Keeping your pearl oyster mushrooms in our fridge could help extend their edibility by a week. If you purchased them already packaged and wrapped, you could store them in their packaging, but you should leave the lid open to let air in and avoid moisture.
Preservation period: Up to a year
Another interesting method of preserving oyster mushrooms and giving them a distinctive flavor is to pickle them. This method of preservation not only extends their shelf life and makes them into delicious toppings for pizza, burgers, sandwiches, and other dishes.
Preservation period: Up to 6 months
On the shelf, dried mushrooms can last up to six months. Mushrooms are often dried for commercial use using a vacuum or other sophisticated dehydrating apparatus.
The most straightforward method for dehydrating mushrooms at home is with a food dehydrator. Air drying them in the sun is another simple method. If a dehydrator is unavailable, a conventional oven with a wire rack or microwave will work just as well.
How Can You Cook Pearl Oyster Mushrooms?
Any recipe that asks for oyster mushrooms can use pearl oyster mushrooms. In the majority of recipes that call for button mushrooms, they can also be used as an alternative. I advise stir-frying oyster mushroom pearls. Because they have a thicker, meatier cap, pearl oyster mushrooms hold up well even when cooked at higher temperatures.