When you love to forage and pick your mushrooms, then proper oyster mushrooms identification is key. You can find these mushrooms year-round, but they are highly dependent on weather, so it can be hard to find them at times.
Regardless of the season, it is also important that you know how to properly identify your mushrooms, as there are poisonous look-alikes that can be dangerous. Also, there is a bit of etiquette to follow when you go foraging, which can influence the whole process too.
These Are The 8 Tips to Becoming An Expert At Oyster Mushrooms Identification
Tip #1: Start by looking for oak and beech trees
When you go foraging for oyster mushrooms, start by spotting any old, open forests with oak and beech trees. If there are any of these trees that have fallen over and are dying, then you are in luck, as this is the perfect place for oyster mushrooms to grow in.
Make sure to look in the part below the fallen trees, because oyster mushrooms tend to grow in the shade.
Tip #2: Oyster mushrooms prefer dead trees
If you are foraging for oyster mushrooms, follow any dead or dying trees. You can almost always find them growing underneath these trees, but be careful, because you may mistake them for another type of mushrooms that may not be edible.
Tip #3: Go out to find them during season changes
While you can find oyster mushrooms at any time of the year in temperate climates, they are best found when you go out to get them right before weather changes. This means your luck is better when you go on the first weekend of spring, or the first fall frost.
Tip #4: Get only young oyster mushrooms
This tip is important because oyster mushrooms grow incredibly quickly, so when you pick out older ones, you may end up with leathery mushrooms that go bad soon after. If possible, aim for young, smaller, oyster mushrooms that still have a few days in them for you to enjoy.
Tip #5: Be wary of poisonous look-alikes
As you may have guessed by their name, these mushrooms look like an oyster, so identifying by their shape is easy. However, you should be aware of some similar poisonous mushrooms.
These mushrooms are:
- Jack-O-Lantern: some people confuse it with Chanterelles mushrooms, but it looks like an oyster as well. It has a distinct orange color, which should alert you, as oyster mushrooms are never orange. If you eat it, you will experience severe cramping, vomiting, and diarrhea.
- Ivory Funnel: these mushrooms are very similar to the Elm oyster kind, but the gills stop at the base of the stem. If you eat it, you will experience severe sweating, abdominal pain, nausea, diarrhea, shortness of breath, and blurry vision.
- Ghost Fungus: this mushroom is particular because it glows in the dark, but it also looks like oyster mushrooms. You can tell the difference between the two mostly at night, but also because this mushroom only grows in Asia and Australia. If you eat this mushroom, you will experience cramps and vomiting.
Tip #6: Oyster mushrooms are usually clean when you pick them
Since they grow in somewhat clear areas, away from dirt, you will find that oyster mushrooms are generally clean. You may want to look for snail damage and cut them off, but other than that, a simple dusting will do.
If you see what looks like oyster mushrooms in other areas, be careful, as these could be imposters and not edible fungi.
Tip #7: Check the characteristics of the mushroom
This part is essential once you see an oyster mushroom. Typically, these mushrooms are between 5-25 cm and don’t have any scales or warts. The flesh is white and firm, with some spots of brown or cream on the top.
Also, oyster mushrooms tend to not have stems, but some types may have what resembles stems that are very short and not in the center. You should not be able to see any sack or rim around the small stem.
Tip #8: They come in many colors
Though they are usually light grey or brown, they can range in color, including yellow and pink. The most common oyster mushrooms are named after their color, like the pearl oyster, golden oyster, and pink oyster. However, others, like the blue oyster are actually brown and not blue.
Now that you know how to properly identify oyster mushrooms, why not go out and try finding some? You should add some to your diet, as they are highly nutritious, and also high in fiber, vitamins, and minerals.
Enjoy your oyster mushrooms fresh, blanched, frozen, or dry. You could even make them into a powder for a bit of umami when cooking or to steep into a tea now and then.
Time to go foraging now that you’re an oyster mushrooms identification expert!