Oyster Mushrooms

Oyster mushrooms-1000x340
Oyster Mushroom Gills

Oyster Mushrooms have no poisonous look alikes.

The other morning, I was walking through the woods, when I happened upon a cluster of white fungi growing on a fallen tree trunk.  I was pretty sure I had found Oyster mushrooms.

I gathered a bunch and headed home to cross check my sources in order to verify my suspicions.  It appeared that I had found some Pleurocybella porrigens, which are smaller and more delicate than the Pleurocybella ostreatus that is an oyster mushroom I was more familiar with. Michael Kuo, in his book 100 Edible Mushrooms, gave oyster mushrooms an edibility rating of great! And they are. Luckily oyster mushrooms have no poisonous look alikes.


How to identify oyster mushrooms

Oyster mushrooms top and bottom

Oyster mushrooms top and bottom

Look for medium to large sized fan-shaped gilled mushrooms that grow on wood, often in overlapping shelves with not much of a stem if any. They have a white to brownish smooth surface with soft flesh and no rings.

Cooking Oyster Mushrooms

Delicious Oyster Mushrooms!

Delicious Oyster Mushrooms!

Once I was certain that these were the genuine item and not some toxic look alikes, I decided it was time to enjoy my bounty.  I threw a few pieces into a pan with some butter and sliced garlic, and lightly sautéed them.  Then my wife and I enjoyed them with our dinner.  I have the rest sitting on my kitchen counter to dry out, before I store them for use later in the year, when there are no fresh ones available.  They can also be preserved by first cooking then freezing them.

Oyster mushrooms are fairly common in the North East, and can usually be found growing on dead logs or tree stumps in the most unexpected places.  I once found a huge bunch growing on a tree stump in the middle of my village.  If you think you’ve found some, I’d suggest checking well before trying them, to avoid making a nasty mistake.  Once you are sure that you have  oysters, clean them carefully (you can use a paint brush to brush them off) and be sure they are dry before cooking them.  Don’t eat them raw!

Dried mushrooms in a ball jar

Dried mushrooms in a ball jar

When preparing your mushrooms for cooking, be sure to remove the tough stems.  The caps can be sliced or torn by hand then sautéed.  The first time I ever prepared “oysters”, I made the mistake of over cooking them.  They looked great, but were very tough.  I’ve since learned that delicate sautéing in butter, for about 5 minutes, is the way to go.

With Pleurocybella species it is possible to harvest from the same spot two or three times throughout the season, so I will be checking back there often, especially after a rainy day.

So, why am I so excited at discovering a bunch of mushrooms?  Oyster mushrooms contain lovastatins, which help to lower LDL cholesterol and are recognized for their anti-cancer properties.  So not only do they taste good, they do you good, and you don’t need a prescription.

Grow your own oyster mushrooms

If you can’t find oyster mushrooms growing in the wild, get the Back to the Roots Oyster Mushroom Kit and grow your own!

Please use our dedicated link while shopping on Amazon. A percentage of what you pay goes to supporting Suburban Foragers!

Back to the Roots Oyster Mushroom Kit

Grow your own mushrooms with the Back to the Roots Oyster Mushroom Kit


To learn more about mushrooms to hunt or grow your own, check out our picks in mushroom books by respected mycologists:

Gary Lincoff:

National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Mushrooms

The Complete Mushroom Hunter: An Illustrated Guide to Finding, Harvesting, and Enjoying Wild Mushrooms


David Arora

Mushrooms Demystified

All That the Rain Promises and More: A Hip Pocket Guide to Western Mushrooms

Michael Kuo

100 Edible Mushrooms


Paul Stamets

Growing Gourmet and Medicinal Mushrooms

Mycelium Running: How Mushrooms Can Help Save the World

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