Blue Oyster Mushrooms: The Easy Guide to Identify, Use, and Grow in 2021

Blue Oyster Mushrooms

If you are looking for a mushroom that is easy and fun to grow, plus delicious to eat and packs a nutrient-rich punch, then look no further than the Blue Oyster Mushroom.

This mushroom species is a great choice for home-growers as it is attractive to watch while it grows, requires little maintenance, and produces loads of edible fruit.

Blue Oyster Mushroom mycelium is hardy and aggressive and ready to fruit within two weeks. It grows well on any wood-based substrate – which is another reason to consider getting a blue oyster spawn to grow at home (you can get it here). It’s a great way to reuse wood and paper waste that would otherwise go to a landfill. Reduce, reuse, and recycle – all part of a zero-waste lifestyle that you can read more about in this blog.

A hobby is fun and rewarding, and what could be more rewarding than reaping and enjoying a harvest of mushrooms that you grew yourself?

This guide will tell you everything you need to know, including how to grow them, the health benefits of consuming them, and their nutritional values and uses. We will even include a few tantalizing Blue Oyster Mushroom recipe ideas.

Let’s dig in and see what we can unearth.

What are Blue Oyster Mushrooms?

Blue Oyster Mushroom is a subspecies of the common Oyster Mushroom. Their scientific name is Pleurotus ostreatus var. columbinus.  That is almost as much of a mouthful as the mushrooms themselves.

Both the common name and the Latin name are derived from the shape of the fruiting body. In Latin, Pleurotus means ‘sideways’ and refers to how the stem grows sideways compared to the cap. Ostreatus is Latin for oyster because the shape of the cap resembles the attractive shell of an oyster. Some people believe that the name is fitting because of the mushroom’s flavor resemblance to oysters.

The Blue Oyster Mushroom has a meaty texture. The pins start out blue and turn gray as the mushroom matures. The pins can double in size from one day to the next, another reason it’s such fun to cultivate them – you can literally watch them grow!

Due to their aggressive growth behavior, Blue Oyster Mushrooms are fast colonizers, and their biological efficiency is among the highest – 100 to 200%.

Blue Oyster Mushrooms
Blue Oyster Mushroom potted garden.

Did you know?
The oyster mushroom is one of the few known carnivorous mushrooms. Its mycelia can kill and digest nematodes (microscopic worms). It is believed that this is how the mushroom obtains nitrogen. Don’t worry. If you grow blue oyster mushrooms at home, you won’t have to include worms in their diet.

Where do They Grow?

The Oyster mushroom species is common in subtropical and temperate forests around the world except for the Pacific Northwest of North America. These mushrooms are mostly seen growing on dying hardwood trees – but they aren’t the cause of the tree’s demise. They act as a primary decomposer of wood; therefore, the species is a saprotroph (not a parasite). They live mostly on deciduous trees and beech trees as a white-rot wood-decay fungus.  Oyster mushrooms benefit their surroundings by decomposing dead wood, thus returning vital minerals to the ecosystem.

Blue Oyster Mushrooms: Benefits and Uses

This species of mushroom is tasty and has a meaty texture. They are mainly used is for eating, but some people consume blue oyster mushroom psychedelics.

I’m not sure when last you went to the market and had a look at the Blue Oyster mushroom price. They cost more on average than other varieties, and yet they are so easy to grow – so it makes sense to grow your own.

Once harvested, they keep well in the fridge but should be consumed within a week of picking. They are inclined to keep growing once harvested, even in the fridge.

You can dehydrate the mushrooms when they are harvested using a  dryer. Store them in an airtight container in a cool, dry place. Simply reconstitute the dried oyster mushrooms by placing them in boiling water for two to five minutes or soaking them in lukewarm water, wine, or broth for about 30 minutes (or you can put them directly in soups and stews).

By drying your mushrooms after an abundant harvest, you will ensure that you have sufficient produce long after the plant’s growth cycle has ended.

Blue Oyster Mushrooms
Blue Oyster Mushrooms

The Health Benefits of Blue Oyster Mushrooms

According to an article on CNN Health, mushrooms are considered a ‘superfood’ because they boost your immune system. They are also cholesterol and gluten-free. Mushrooms are a low-calorie source of antioxidants, fiber, and protein.

Let’s have a closer look at the health benefits of Blue Oyster mushrooms:

1. Boosts your Immune System

Blue Oyster mushrooms contain antioxidants that protect the body from free radicals. The vitamin B-complex and the vitamins C and D found in these superfoods will do wonders for your immune system. Due to the high antioxidant levels, it is believed that mushrooms can prevent many adverse health conditions.

The selenium found in blue oyster mushrooms can help fight free radicals in the body. We are exposed to free radicals through pollution, alcohol, unhealthy fats, and electromagnetic radiation. Free radicals can cause serious illnesses.

2. Protein Without the Fat

Our bodies need protein for growth and repair, but many sources of protein contain unhealthy fats. Compared with eggs, another protein-rich food, blue oyster mushrooms contain less fat.

3. Low in Cholesterol

Blue Oyster mushrooms contain several proteins that help to burn cholesterol. They contain no bad fats and have a low carb content. The fiber and enzyme content helps the digestive system.

4. Strengthening Bones

Blue Oyster mushrooms contain vitamin D and calcium. Both are beneficial for bone health.

5. Good for your Heart

Blue Oyster mushrooms contain potassium which helps maintain our blood vessels’ health, resulting in a happy heart.

Blue Oyster Mushroom Recipe Ideas

The stems are inclined to be chewy, so you may want to avoid using these in some dishes.

  • Sauté the mushrooms with garlic and green onion in olive oil and serve as a side with any meat dish.
  • Add fresh or dried mushrooms to soups and stews.
  • Poach the mushrooms in butter and cream and toss with pasta, Parmesan cheese, and green onions like in this recipe.
  • Add mushrooms to roasted potatoes like in this video:

How to Grow Blue Oyster Mushrooms at Home

This species will grow on almost anything made of wood. You can also use cardboard, paper, spent coffee grounds, woodchips, sawdust, or straw.

What are the Best Fruiting Containers?

You can use polypropylene mushroom bags. They cost more than polyethylene bags, but they can go in a pressure cooker, which is important if you want to sterilize your substrate. They also come with a filter patch to allow for air exchange, which is very important for mycelium growth in a dense substrate.

Polyethylene bags are advantageous because you can tie-off your own choice of length to fill longer fruiting bags that can be hung from a support.

Once you have sterilized your substrate, you can fill and seal your bags. If you don’t have a pressure cooker, but you want to sterilize your substrate, you can read this blog.

Another fruiting container that you can consider for the straw substrate is a plastic bucket. Make about six to ten small (8mm to 10mm) holes all around the bucket, and then tape them closed. Fill the bucket with straw and grain that contains Blue Oyster mushroom spawn. Place the bucket into another slightly larger bucket with no holes to allow for air exchange.  Once the mycelium has colonized the straw, you can take it out of the other bucket. Remove the tape from some of the holes. The mushrooms will grow out of these opened holes.

Grow Your Own Blue Oyster Mushrooms

For this guide, we used wheat straw supplemented with a mix of 10 to 20% spawn-infused bran. You can add small amounts of lime and gypsum; this makes a popular substrate from which you can expect to harvest at least two flushes of mushrooms. We chose to use Polypropylene mushroom bags as a fruiting container.

With our substrate in the bag and the bag sealed, we made a few small holes, about 8mm to 10mm in size, to allow for air exchange. Without air, mycelium growth will stop. The mushrooms will eventually grow from these holes.

The growing parameters of the Blue Oyster mushroom:

Incubation:
Temperature: 15° C to 21° C
Humidity: 90% to 95%
Fresh air exchange: 1 to 2 per hour
Duration: 10 to 21 days

Pinning:
Temperature: 10° C to 16° C
Humidity: 90% to 95%
Fresh air exchange: 4 to 8 per hour
Duration: 3 to 5 days

Fruiting:
Temperature: 15° C to 21° C
Humidity: 80% to 90%
Fresh air exchange: 4 to 8 per hour
Duration: 4 to 7 days

If the Blue Oyster mushroom doesn’t get lots of fresh air at the pinning and fruiting stages, the fruit will grow long stems, which is not desirable. You want your Blue Oyster mushrooms to have very short stems and thick caps – this is only accomplished if they have lots of fresh air exchange. Because there is a lot of carbon monoxide at the base of the mushroom, they will grow long legs if they need to stretch for fresh air.

To prevent leggy mushrooms, you should also ensure they get the right amount of light, or they will be stretching their stems to reach toward the light too.

Harvest the mushrooms by picking or cutting entire clusters rather than one mushroom at a time as the mushrooms will store longer.

Blue Oyster Mushroom Tacos
Blue Oyster Mushroom Tacos

In Conclusion

If you are looking to start a new hobby or you want to embrace a more natural way of living, why not give Blue Oyster Mushroom growing a try?

Growing your own produce can be very rewarding, and, compared to other crops, mushrooms are inexpensive to cultivate, and the time from spore-to-table is much quicker than other fruits and vegetables.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is there a downside to growing Blue Oyster Mushrooms?

One downside is that this species needs a lot of fresh air exchange, which makes growing them indoors a bit tricky. They also have a heavy spore load, so it’s best to pick them before they are fully mature. Exposure to mushroom spores on a small scale is not harmful.

Can I buy a Blue Oyster Mushroom Kit?

Yes, you can order mushroom starter kits online. This is great for people who are just starting out and want to be sure they enjoy the hobby before investing too much time and effort.

 What Other Types of Oyster Mushrooms are there, and are they all Edible?

There are seven types of oyster mushrooms that are all edible, but there are three poisonous look-alikes.

References:

https://mushroomhobby.ca/blogs/blue-oyster-mushroom/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pleurotus_ostreatus

https://grocycle.com/health-benefits-oyster-mushrooms/

https://learn.freshcap.com/growing/candidates-for-cultivation-the-blue-oyster-mushroom/

 

 

 

 

 

 

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