By Max Goransson
Friday, Nov 5th, 2021
LETS LEARN ABOUT
The Pleurotus family is a genus of gilled mushrooms that can be found all over the world. They have over 200+ different types of known species, and the positive uses that we can benefit from these mushrooms are endless.
The Oyster mushroom is a choice edible across many cultures, with asian dishes topping the charts when it comes to popularity of use. The taste is savory, sometimes with hints of oak and anise. Because oysters grow on hardwoods, we can see where the woody taste may come from. They are typically torn instead of sliced (Tearing mushrooms preserves the muscle-like fibers and provides a much better texture on cooking), and then sautéed. Recipes are endless with oysters, complimenting stir-fries, pasta dishes, soups and much more. Health-wise, they are rich in nutrients, have immune-supportive benefits, and may help regulate blood sugar levels.
Grocery stores in the US commonly carry button mushrooms and portabellas, but finding oysters can be a bit harder. This is due to two things: shelf life and demand. Oysters have a much shorter shelf life than those of buttons and portabellas, so finding them in national chain grocery stores is quite rare. Sticking to your local farmers markets, international stores, and co-ops, you’re likely to find a wonderful variety of fresh and dehydrated mushrooms.
Apart from cuisine, oysters have been utilized to clean toxic soils, a term referred to as mycoremediation. Mycoremediation is a form of bioremediation in which fungi is used to degrade or isolate contaminants in soil. It can be used in soil that is contaminated with petroleum or diesel oil, because the fungi can reduce the polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH). So why is it we haven’t crop dusted these plagued areas with loads of spores? Well, federal regulations require that 100% of the contaminants be removed in a short time frame. Mushrooms simply aren’t fast enough for these regulations. See more about mycoremediation in our home state of California here.
Oysters are also a carnivorous fungi. They prey on nematoads by using a calcium-dependent toxin that paralyzes the prey within minutes of contact, causing necrosis and formation of a slurry to facilitate ingestion as a protein-rich food source. Who would’ve known our fungi friends would do something this?!
From a curious child, all the way to a professional mycologist, mushrooms will never cease to amaze us.