I have recently started blogging on Steemit and thus fallen short here on this one. I’m going to try to start doing better about cross posting as I know many of you are not YET on Steemit. If you are then go show me some by following, commenting, and of course if you see fit resteeming my articles. For those of you who are not familiar with Steemit it is a blogging/social media platform that pays you to write and post good content in cryptocurrency which can then be turned into your preferred currency. As I reach a month of membership/blogging I’ll do a review post about it…stay tuned. Better yet, go check it out for yourself. I’m very much enjoying it thus far. Onward ho!!
You can find some type of oyster mushroom nearly year round. It is always a delicious treat when you happen upon these gems in the wild. It is not uncommon to find them growing in large numbers and they can continue to produce throughout the season from the same log, just keep going back every other week for a sneak peak. We have this one large downed beech tree that crosses our creek that we regularly find white oysters on late spring thru fall. This beech tree is host to multiple other species including a medicinal favorite of ours called Turkey Tail (Trametes versicolor). It flushes regularly with the constant moisture from the creek below it despite droughts such as the one we are currently in. Pleurotos species are awesome. They are meaty, mild and incredibly versatile. We also farm oysters but do not clean them prior to delivery unlike our wild surprises that we enjoy regularly at the family dinner table. Our lil fella has gotten pretty good at assisting in the cleaning of oysters (and chanterelles) and asked me to take pictures of him demonstrating…which has led to this post. We cultivate oyster mushrooms outdoors as well as wild harvesting them. Below are two images (poor quality images-sorry) showing the tree we harvested these off of. The first image is prior to harvesting, the second is post harvest showing how much we left in place. Only take what you plan to eat, leave the rest for the wild creatures.
Before we get started I’d like to share that this is NOT how we clean all of our mushrooms. Lion’s mane, for instance, can be squeezed like a sponge and is completely different to clean. I’ll get into all that in a post later this season.
First, nearly all wild mushrooms are subject to insects, organic matter, and other things that you typically won’t find on food in the produce isle of your local grocery…but you won’t typically find these delectable treats either. I know some people who don’t bother really cleaning their wild shroom finds and just see the bugs as extra protein. Now, don’t get me wrong I love this concept and am not past eating bugs if I’m hungry enough….but I’m not and here we are.
You’ll typically notice upon harvest a slight ‘fishy’ smell to your oyster mushrooms and bugs go crazy for it. Take a look at the picture above, see all those bugs. Yeah, they love that shroom as much as we do. However, unless you are lacking in protein then you may want to wash those lil suckers off.
We have a little setup that we use each time we clean buggy shrooms. This includes a larger container to dump the spent cleaning water and bits in (for slurry), paper bags/paper towels (also saved for slurry), and a smaller bowl for clean water.
This is a fun activity to get kids involved in (as you can see). It teaches kids the necessity of cleaning your produce and why it is important to do so, gets them involved in the food preparation process, gets them excited about healthy food, and allows for fun family time. We regularly also take our children foraging with us which teaches them all kinds of valuable skills, as well as gives us quality family time.
First, assess your mushrooms (above). They should not be slimy, no brown or decaying spots, and of course double check to make sure they are what you thought you were harvesting (absolutely do not eat if you have any doubts about the species…take a spore print, ask an expert, etc or toss if in doubt).
Next, trim any undesirable bits off and toss them in your slurry bucket. This includes stems with oysters as they can be particularly tough to eat and prevent a good sear with frying.
Next, dip and quickly swish the mushroom in the clean water then inspect it. Regardless of how clean the mushroom may have appeared to be there WILL be gunk that comes off, even if it is just a lot of spores but undoubtedly there will be dirt or bugs too. Oysters tend to be heavy on beetles and they like to get deep down in the gills so I typically will quickly run my finger across the gills as I’m swishing or afterwards to do a quick check.
Next, place them gill side down on paper towel or paper bag and proceed until you have a full set on the draining area. Next take a paper towel (or dry towel if you’re not going to slurry or just don’t want to waste all those trees) on top of the mushrooms and gently press down to soak up excess water. Do this until they are fairly dry and set aside. Now start on the rest. Continue this cycle until you have cleaned your mushrooms.
Now go cook those bad boys up and enjoy! Soon I’ll be sharing my gluten free fried oyster recipe that struts a nice little nutritional punch with the flour so you can really enjoy these yummy mushrooms.
Ending common sense rant & disclaimer: Use your noggin folks. If you don’t know how to identify a oyster mushroom don’t go running into the woods and grab the first whitish mushroom you see growing on a log…you’re likely to seriously hurt yourself, or at least cause some serious discomfort. This is NOT a ‘how to identify’ post, don’t just look at pictures and run into the woods. This is for those of you who know you have a nice patch, cultivate, or have it in hand and know what it is. I am not responsible for you not using common sense.