The Honey fungus (genus Armillaria) is a partially edible grouping of fungi that includes more than…
King oyster mushrooms (scientific name Pleurotus eryngii) also known as trumpet mushrooms, and king brown mushrooms amongst other names, are the biggest edible mushrooms of the Pleurotus genus of gilled mushrooms. Their name stems from the fact that their color and caps make them look similar to oysters.
Where To Find King Oyster Mushrooms And When
King oyster mushrooms grow natively in East Coast U.S regions, Mediterranean countries, Middle East regions and some parts of Asia, such as China, Korea, and Japan.
They are weakly saprotrophic in nature, which means that they feed on decayed or dead organic matter, such as the roots of hardwood trees (like oak and aspen) and, unusually for the Pleurotus species, the roots of herbaceous plants.
These mushrooms grow at all times of the year. Unlike other gilled mushroom species, they grow individually and not in clusters, but you may find a few mushrooms in close proximity to each other in wild forest regions.
How To Identify Them
The first thing to look out for when identifying a King oyster mushroom is its small flattened cap. The cap is smooth and light or medium brown in color.
The stem of these mushrooms is a milky white or light beige in color, is semi-smooth, thick, and has a firm texture. They do not have any spots or warts in their caps or stems. The majority of King oysters grow from 2 inches to 8 inches (5 to 20cm) in height, with the average diameter reaching 2 inches (5cm).
King oysters are fairly distinctive in their appearance and there aren’t really any (poisonous) look-alikes to be wary of.
How To Grow Them
There are several ways to grow your King Oyster mushrooms at home, which are typically focused on three phases: cultivation space, fruiting the mushroom, and final collection after a few weeks.
The easiest way to grow King Oysters is to get a specialised kit, available in offline nurseries or online with all the essentials you need such as containers, bags, and spawn. These kits are typically sold for $15-25 so they are a quite affordable and convenient choice for newbies.
The step-by-step process to grow King Oyster mushrooms is:-
- Get a large sheet of cardboard and cut it into 4 x 4 inch (10 x 10 cm) squares and place them in a bucket with hot water to saturate them. Let these soak overnight and then drain excess moisture by gently squeezing out the squares.
- Place 10 to 12 small pieces of mushroom spawn over each cardboard square and especially near the sides. Then pile the squares up on top of each other.
- Place the piled-up spawn squares into a large transparent plastic bag and seal it. Keep the bag at a temperature of around 50 to 65F (10 to 18 celsius) in a dark place such as a cabinet. Check every couple of days to make sure that the bag is moist but has no pools of water. Carefully drain excess water if this is necessary. Other than this, leave the bag undisturbed for 4 to 6 weeks.
- Once you see small white strands (mycelium) popping up, open the bag and move it to a sunny area. The first batch of mushrooms may appear after 1 to 2 weeks. In the meantime, make sure you spray the walls of the bag with water to encourage more growth two to three times a day.
- If you are satisfied with the size of the mushrooms, it’s time to harvest them by carefully twisting the stems off.
King oyster mushrooms are a great source of protein, B-complex vitamins such as folate and thiamine, and trace minerals such as zinc, copper and magnesium which play a role in various metabolic processes and have potent antioxidant properties.
These mushrooms also contain bioactive compounds that support immune system activity and speed up recovery from illness. Some studies have also shown that they can help lower bad cholesterol by suppressing the production of certain fatty acids.
How To Cook King Oyster Mushrooms
These mushrooms are a culinary favorite amongst chefs in many popular cuisines and especially in Asia, where they are cultivated on a large scale. They have a tender meat-like texture and nutty flavor with a hint of seafood aromas. You can slice them up and use them in Asian stir-frys, rice dishes, pasta, pizzas, stews and soups. They are also great side dishes for barbeque meals.
Here is a quick and easy recipe to try out:-
- 4 medium-sized King oyster mushrooms, sliced lengthwise to one third of an inch pieces
- 1 tablespoon lightly salted butter
- 2 cloves garlic
- ½ teaspoon cumin
- 1 tablespoon vinegar
- Heat the butter in a medium pan and add the mushroom pieces. Season with the cumin and salt-pepper to taste and sauté for 2 minutes on each side.
- Add the garlic and sauté until fragrant for 1 more minute. Finish off with the vinegar, poured on top of the mushrooms.
- Drain the butter and serve.
King oyster mushrooms are incredibly versatile and very easy to cook with. It’s no wonder they are a popular food all over the world. Since they are fairly easy to find in stores or to grow yourself, you should definitely give them a try.
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