Oyster mushroom (mushroom species Pleurotus ostreatus) gets its name from an uncanny resemblance to fresh-shucked oysters. Oyster mushrooms can usually be found growing on dead or decaying wood or on organic material like sawdust and straw and are classified as a fungus, similar to other mushrooms.
Oyster mushrooms caps which are shaped like fans or as the name suggest “oysters” are generally large with sizes up to 10 inches in diameter that grow in clusters like an oyster bed. The growing conditions influence the color of the mushrooms so they can be found in various colors such as grey, white, yellow, dark brown and sometimes pink.
Another reason why they are called ‘oyster mushrooms’ is that they do not typically taste like mushrooms but have a subtle oyster-like flavor. These mushrooms are also called elephant mushroom, oyster cap mushroom, tree mushroom and shimeji.
Oyster mushrooms have high nutritional content including Fiber, Linoleic Acid, carbohydrate, Protein, minerals such as Zinc, Potassium, Iron, Calcium, Phosphorus, and vitamins like B1, B2, C, also Amino Acids, Niacin and Copper. Mushrooms are one of the few plant sources of vitamin D which helps strengthen bones.
In addition to providing these essential vitamins and nutrients oyster mushrooms are also free of cholesterol and fat, low in carbohydrates, calories and sodium and high in protein and fiber
Oyster Mushrooms and Cholesterol
Dr. Mehmet Oz recommended the consumption of oyster mushrooms either cooked or raw to lower cholesterol levels. He suggested individuals with high cholesterol eat a half cup of oyster mushrooms per day. Consuming oyster mushrooms can decrease cholesterol levels naturally, which can potentially reduce the need for prescription medication.
Oyster mushrooms contain statins, which are typically taken in drug form to lower "bad" (LDL) cholesterol. Statins wake up receptors in the liver, which take in cholesterol to pass it through the liver much more readily to rid the body of cholesterol. While oyster mushrooms are effective in lowering cholesterol, those suffering from the condition should not reduce or cease the use of their cholesterol medication without consulting with their doctor.
Oyster Mushroom and Cancer
Oyster mushrooms contain polysaccharides. Polysaccharides are a complex carbohydrate comprised of small sugar molecules. The Research Institute of Nutrition found polysaccharides can have a positive effect on tumours by inhibiting further growth. Polysaccharides also help to strengthen the immune system, which contributes to fighting cancer.
Oyster Mushroom and Inflammation
Also found in oyster mushrooms, terpenoids which kill bacteria and viruses by producing an anti-inflammatory effect in the body.
Other health benefits
Oyster mushrooms can also help with the following ailments:
Nutrition deficiencies, Ulcers, high or low blood pressure, Liver problems, Allergies, Autoimmune diseases and gastrointestinal problems.
The most nutrient dense portion of the mushroom is the cap however young mushrooms are the most nutritious. Oyster mushrooms are an extremely versatile ingredient which can easily replace popular choices such as Portobello and button and enhance the flavor profile with its distinct taste and meaty texture.
How to use Oyster Mushrooms
Place the mushroom in a bowl of water (minimum amount as they are quite moist) to flush out the gill spaces as well as to remove any insects or growing medium that may be present and gently press between paper or cloth towels to remove excess liquid.
Oyster mushrooms are used often in stir-fried dishes, since the cap is thin and cooks quickly. Simply tear the mushroom into desirable sizes before adding it to the wok. For a dish that requires a long cooking time, add these mushrooms at the last stage of cooking. Large mushrooms because of their meaty texture can be cut into large pieces, dipped into slightly beaten eggs, and then rolled in bread crumbs for pan-frying. Oyster mushrooms also work well in soups, pasta and even fried rice. If cuts are large enough, they also have a meaty appearance when cooked. They pair well with seafood and white meats
Mushrooms can be stored in a freezer after briefly sautéing in butter. Dehydrated Oyster mushrooms can be added to a dish without rehydration.
Valentine’s Day Mushroom Recipe
Oyster Mushroom Curry
Preparation Time: 10 mins
Cooking Time: 25 to 30 mins
Serves: 4 to 6
200 g Oyster Mushrooms
1 tblspn + 1 tblspn Oil
1 large Onion (chopped finely)
2 large Tomatoes (pureed)
1/2 Bell Pepper (sliced thinly)
1 cup Peas
1 tblspn Ginger Garlic Paste
2 tsp Chilli Powder
1 tblspn Coriander Powder
1 tsp Cumin Powder
1/2 tsp Turmeric Powder
1 tsp Garam Masala Powder
Salt to taste
Coriander leaves a handful finely chopped
- Heat oil in a pan, add in mushroom and cook until lightly coloured. Remove this to a plate.
- Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in the same pan, add in onions and cook until golden, add in ginger garlic paste and sauté for a minute.
- Add in all spice powder and sauté for a minute.
- Add in tomatoes and cook until oil separates.
- Add in more water; add in cooked mushrooms, peas, bell pepper and mix well
- Cook until the mushrooms are done. Simmer for 10 minutes.
- Add in coriander leaves and mix well to serve.
CARIRI’s Biotechnology Unit can help you resolve food quality problems, make processes more efficient and profitable, and develop new products. They provide consultancy and training services across the Food Industry value chain- from food processors, restaurants and caterers to wholesalers, distributors and retailers.
One facet of Biotechnology is the Mushroom Technology Package Bay which has been developed to promote diversity in the Agricultural Sector. The bay houses the production and incubation of growing bags which once completed are harvested and sold. You can grow your own business and you don’t need much space to start it, you just need to know the specifics and CARIRI is here to guide you.
Food safety may be compromised around Carnival time for various reasons. Many of the causes stem from improper cleaning and sanitation practices as well as poor personal hygiene. This Carnival, keep these tips in mind to ensure that you and your family consume safe food:
- Hot foods should be held above 60oC or above and cold food should be kept below 5oC (refrigerator temperature) once prepared
- Do not pack hot foods together with cold foods
- When transporting food keep perishable foods on ice. Fried chicken, potato salad, ham, beef and fish, egg or chicken sandwiches need to be kept cold. You can also freeze meat sandwiches the night before
- Be careful about ice - separate ice for consumption from ice to be used for cooling, in different coolers
- Hot foods should be bought freshly prepared and should be piping hot.
- Salads and vegetables are supposed to be kept on ice
- Take along a lot of moist towelettes or baby wipes and instant hand sanitizer with you to clean your hands before touching food
If you depend on street vendors for food, be alert of the following:
- Their food handlers badge that should be current and displayed
- Their immediate surroundings are clean, free of litter, pests and other contaminants
- The vendor’s attire – they should on have hair nets, not be wearing jewellery whilst handling food, coats/aprons and gloves should also be clean
- The vendor should have facilities that include a supply of clean, potable water in addition to liquid antibacterial soap and hand-drying paper towels that allow him/her to practice regular hand-washing.
- There must be a covered waste receptacle.
- Foods should be in temperature controlled devices such as food warmers and other insulated containers that keep foods out of the temperature danger zone (5-60oC)
- All equipment and utensils are clean, functioning, well maintained and made of food grade material (e.g. stainless steel, food grade plastic)
- If food is being sold from a vehicle, the vehicle should be clean and well maintained
- The vendor’s personal behavior does not compromise food safety (e.g. he/she is not eating, drinking, chewing gum, smoking or chattering excessively whilst preparing food)
- Food packaging materials such as boxes, paper and bags are properly sealed and kept away from airborne contaminants, chemicals and any other hazards that can pose a food safety risk
- The vendor is not showing signs of illness such as excessive sneezing, coughing, runny eyes and nose, vomiting, having to use the washroom often and other such symptoms