Oyster mushrooms have a distinctive look, they have short stems; as the name implies, they are shaped like oysters. There are so many varieties of mushrooms and about 7 popular kinds of oyster mushrooms. They are not as common as the white button mushroom, but they are edible and have found their way into dishes and recipes around the world.
These mushrooms are native to a part of the world where people believe that they impart wisdom. Even ancient Egyptians believed that eating oyster mushrooms could grant immortality. While they hold cultural importance in many cultures, they also make a great addition to recipes. Oyster mushrooms might be named after the shellfish they share a physical appearance with, but their taste is not similar to the seafood in any way.
What do oyster mushrooms taste like? Oyster mushrooms have a very mild flavor; when you eat them raw, their taste can be compared to that of button mushrooms with notes of watermelon and a buttery flavor. They could also have a seafood flavor if you eat them raw. To get the delicate and savory flavor of oyster mushrooms, you have to cook them. When cooked under high heat, the earthy flavor is intense, and they tend to have a subtly sweet taste accompanied by the hint of an anise flavor.
Oyster mushrooms may have a slightly different taste depending on the variety you are having. Cooking oyster mushrooms unlocks the store of flavor that they have. About the seafood flavor or fishy taste of these mushrooms; that might be as a result of how they were stored or packaged.
Nutritional Benefits of Oyster Mushrooms
Oyster mushrooms have an impressive store of health-promoting compounds. They have been used in traditional medicine in several cultures for ages. Science has shown that they contain powerful plant compounds that are proven to be highly beneficial for the body. But back when science was still primitive, the medicinal properties of oysters were well known.
Oyster mushrooms are nutrient-dense; they are a good choice for people who want to get nutrients into their bodies but reduce calorie intake.
One cup of fresh oyster mushrooms contains 28 calories, less than a gram of fat, 27 percent of the Daily Value (DV) for niacin, 8 percent of the DV for folate, choline, phosphorus, and potassium. It also contains zinc, iron, fiber, protein, and vitamin B5. There are also trace amounts of selenium and vitamin D.
A study was carried out on old rats in 2007. It showed that oyster mushrooms could improve antioxidant leaves and lower some kinds of inflammatory markers. Another study in 2020, showed that the antioxidants in oyster mushrooms could help reduce liver damage caused by toxic chemicals in the body. Antioxidants always protect the body from cellular damage that happens as a result of free radicals and oxidative stress.
There are about seven phenolic compounds in oyster mushrooms that all play the role of antioxidants in the body. Oyster mushrooms can also help prevent the oxidation of LDL (the bad kind of cholesterol). Studies have shown that the oxidation of LDL causes the buildup of plaque in the arteries which leads to heart diseases.
Oyster mushrooms may be able to help regulate blood sugar levels. In 2007, 30 people who had Type 2 diabetes ate 150 grams of cooked oyster mushrooms for 7 days. The result was amazing; they were able to reduce post-meal blood sugar by about 23 percent and fasting blood sugar in their bodies by 22 percent.
It has been suggested that the high levels of beta-glucans, a type of fiber that slows down the digestion and absorption of carbohydrates, could be responsible for the blood regulating abilities of oyster mushrooms.
Culinary Uses of Oyster Mushrooms
There are several ways oyster mushrooms can be used in the kitchen. Having oyster mushrooms on hand is a good culinary choice, you can hardly go wrong with them. If you favor a vegan diet, they are perfect for use in a vegan barbecue slider. Have you tried sushi? Oyster mushrooms can be used in sushi after they have been sautéed with maple syrup and spices. If you prefer baked goods, you can bread oyster mushrooms with a flax egg and make mushroom cakes.
These mushrooms have also been touted as a vegetarian substitute for pulled pork. When you prepare them properly, they have a meaty texture; that, combined with their subtly sweet taste, makes them a perfect substitute for meat in vegetarian diets.
Where Can Oyster Mushrooms Be Found?
Oyster mushrooms were cultivated in Germany during the First World War as a subsistence measure; in various parts of the world today, they are grown commercially. Raw oysters have a slippery texture and are one of the most commonly sought mushrooms in the world.
There are several varieties of oyster mushrooms, but there are two types you will most likely find in a supermarket. The King Oyster has a more meaty texture than any other variety of oyster mushrooms. They have small flat caps and very thick stems. The second variety is the Pearl Oyster, these have a tender texture, their appearance looks like they don’t have stems, and they are usually very small.
We also have other popular varieties of oyster mushrooms, like the Yellow or Golden Oyster, Blue Oyster, and Pink Oyster.
What are Oyster Mushrooms Similar To?
The best replacement for oyster mushrooms would be shiitake mushrooms. They don’t taste like oyster mushrooms but can be used in the same recipe or dishes that require oyster mushrooms.
Facts You Don’t Know About Oyster Mushrooms
- The scientific name for an oyster mushroom is Pleurotus ostreatus.
- Oyster mushrooms have a poisonous doppelgänger known as Ghost Fungus (Omphalotus nidiformis). They are native to Japan and Australia.