Oyster Mushroom
(Pleurotus ostreatus)

From THE WILD VEGAN COOKBOOK

Oysters
Oyster Mushroom sculpture

Oyster Mushroom

sculpture, acrylic paints

Here's a mushroom that lives up to its name—it looks, smells, and tastes like oysters. With virtually no stalk, this mushroom's oyster-shaped caps usually grow in layers on dead deciduous wood (or on some supermarket shelves), like clusters of oysters. The moist, hairless, fragrant, white to smoky-gray caps are 2-8 inches wide.

Oyster Mushrooms on Log

Oyster Mushrooms

Note how this whitish, summer variety, clusters on the log.

The white, hairless gills (which become yellow-tinged with age) descend the short, stub-like, lateral stalk, when it exists. The spores are white.

Oyster Mushrooms from Below

Oyster Mushrooms, from below

Note how the gills, which are widely separated, run down the short, stubby stalk.

Oyster mushrooms grow throughout North America. If it rains enough and it's not too hot or cold, you can find them any month of the year, although they're most common in the second half of autumn.

Cut out any part near the stem that's so tough you can't pinch through, and save it for stock. Cook the tender parts using any method. 10-20 minutes. They have a soft, chewy texture and it taste a little like seafood. Use seasonings suitable for seafood for a mock seafood effect.

Wildman Bites Oyster

"Wildman" Bites Oyster

Note the much darker color of these mid-November oysters (and the sculpture above) compared to the other photos on this page, taken in the spring.

photo by Fiona Heeran

One day, after lots of rain, my friend Joe found ten pounds of oyster mushrooms on a dead tree on a lawn by a house along the side of a road. He stopped his car, ran across the lawn with his pocket knife, cut down the mushrooms, returned to his car, and sped off with his prize.
Rain
Ten minutes later, the state police came after him. He'd been spotted running across the lawn of the State Prison's warden waving a knife.
Police
Certain that he was headed for jail, Joe showed the cops the mushrooms and explained that wasn't an escaped prisoner bent on bloody revenge. They sent him off with a no more than a warning.
Jailed!
Then, two weeks later, after more rainstorms, Joe happened to be driving along the same road when he spotted twenty pounds of oyster mushrooms on the same tree. This time he went and knocked on the door and asked the warden for permission.
Knocker
The warden scratched his head and answered: "Sure, be my guest. Take all the mushrooms you want. And thank you so much for stopping by to ask. You wouldn't believe the nerve of the last guy who found mushrooms on my tree!"
Shaking Hands
Oyster Mushroom Recipes