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oyster mushroom

 

Botanical name: Pleurotus ostreatus


Austernpilz

 

Its native habitat is presumed to be Southeast Asia, where the oyster mushroom began its march to success. Today, it is the mushroom most in demand after button mushrooms.

It is one of the few species of mushrooms that has been cultivated successfully. Cultured oyster mushrooms are grown worldwide, the largest producers being Japan, Hong Kong and Thailand. The most important suppliers in Europe, in addition to Germany, are France, Italy, Hungary, Spain and the Netherlands.

The oyster mushroom grows wild in our area on decaying tree stumps and other organic substances.


Availability


In nature it can be found from October to December, following the first nights with frost. The mushrooms that can be bought in shops stem predominantly from cultivation and are available year round.


Appearance, taste, characteristics


In contrast to the button mushroom, which is a secondary decomposer, the oyster mushroom is a primary decomposer. This means that the mycelium it forms decomposes substances from the material on which is grows and feeds on them. Oyster mushrooms grow preferentially on the wood of deciduous trees.

Oyster mushrooms do not grow singly on their substrate, but rather clustered or arranged in bunches, like roofing tiles. This arrangement is similar to that of oyster beds.

On a short stem, or stipe, that usually grows sideward, the cap of the mushroom develops. Its underside is covered with fine, whitish gills that extend down to the stipe. The cap itself is yellow or grey to olive-black and reaches a diameter of 5–15 cm. The shape resembles that of oysters or clams.

The flesh of the oyster mushroom is whitish and exceptionally succulent, and it resembles tender meat in its consistency. This has given it the synonym in German of 'veal mushroom'. These mushrooms are quite popular because of their mild forest-mushroom flavour.

Cultured oyster mushrooms grow on moist, chopped straw, sawdust, old tea leaves, wood and wood-wool. They can be harvested by hand after only about 4 weeks. The harvest extends over 4–6 weeks.

Numerous varieties exist, differing in cap size, colour, preferred habitat, flavour and odour. They are not marketed according to variety name, however, but only as oyster mushrooms, or under the fantasy name mentioned above, veal mushrooms. Other fantasy names are "yellow Pleurotus" and "gold cluster". New varieties are not assigned a special name, but receive only a variety number.


Ingredients


Like all mushrooms, oyster mushrooms have a high water content and supply important proteins, but they have very few calories. They also contain several important minerals, along with vitamin D and some B-vitamins.

100 g contain:


Oyster mushroom, fresh
Energy (kcal)
11
Water (g)
90
Protein (g)
3,5
Fat (g)
< 1
Carbohydrates (g)
< 1
Fibre (g)
5,9
Vitamin B1 (μg)
191
Vitamin B2 (μg)
285
Niacin (NE) (mg)
10
Potassium (mg)
254
Potassium (mg)
67
Iron (mg)
1,2



Quality criteria, optimal storage conditions


Three different quality grades are on the market: choice, A I and A II. Whole caps without stems are termed 'choice'. Whole mushrooms with stems or in clusters are sold as grade A I, and grade A II is available only to large consumers in 2- or 4-kg bundles, which may contain pieces as well as whole mushrooms.

The consumer can buy the goods loose or packed in trays.

When buying, be careful that the surface is not smeary. Occasionally a white fuzz forms; it is not mould and can simply be wiped off with a paper towel. The mushrooms can be kept in the refrigerator for about 5 days.


Presumed effect on health


Oyster mushrooms are said to lower the level of cholesterol in the blood. In addition, some of their ingredients function as antioxidants and thus have an influence on the development of tumours, arteriosclerosis etc. Compared with shiitake and button mushrooms, they contain more phenols and have the capacity to catch free radicals.


Form of consumption, use, processing, practical tips for preparation


With cultured oyster mushrooms it is sufficient to clean them lightly and remove the lower part of the stem; there is thus very little waste. Do not remove too much of the stem, however, as this is where the majority of the ingredients and aroma substances are found.

Oyster mushrooms can be served as an accompaniment to various dishes. They are delicious with meat, poultry and fish and also enrich noodle and rice dishes or omelettes. If the stem is separated from the cap, the mushroom can be fried like a cutlet. Try it. Breaded with slivered almonds and served with a salad it is very tasty.


Seasoning tip


The pleasant taste of the oyster mushroom can be accentuated with parsley or basil, salt and pepper and a little garlic. But don't season too heavily, or you will mask the aroma too much.

 

 

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