Golden oyster mushrooms are a type of functional mushroom that are well worth exploring. With their myriad health benefits, ease of growing, and delicate flavor, golden oyster mushrooms have a place in any kitchen. Let’s do a deeper dive into golden oyster mushrooms, the different varieties available, their historical use, and more.
Golden oyster mushrooms (pleurotus citrinopileatus) are functional mushrooms, which means they have health benefits beyond their nutritional value. And they’re often used in traditional medicine around the world.
Sometimes called pearl oyster mushrooms, this variety of oyster mushroom has a bright yellow color. The cap of its fruiting body can be wavy or ruffled in appearance. Unlike some mushrooms with a single cap at the end of their stem, golden oyster mushrooms have a central stem with several caps radiating outward.
Oyster mushrooms are edible mushrooms, and there are around 40 different types (1).
In addition to the yellow oyster mushrooms we’re discussing, there are other varieties of oyster mushrooms that range in color and have slight variations in their texture and flavors. Here are some of the different types of oyster mushrooms available (2):
You’re probably familiar with hearing about medicinal mushrooms such as reishi, chaga, and lion’s mane having a place in the annals of traditional and natural medicine. Golden oyster mushrooms have played their role too, although much of the documented literature typically refers to oyster mushrooms in general.
Also referred to as hao gu, oyster mushrooms have been used in traditional medicine to treat high cholesterol, diabetes, and infections. Data gathered from lab experiments have also demonstrated its antifungal and antitumor properties and ability to lower cholesterol (3).
Because of their nutritional profile and health benefits, oyster mushrooms were first cultivated in Germany during WWI as a subsistence measure during food shortages. Today, oyster mushrooms are not only a delicious food source, but they’re also used in mycoremediation, which basically means they’re used to decontaminate the environment (4).
Like many mushrooms, golden oyster mushrooms contain several health benefits. They have a high antioxidant value and contain nutrients like potassium, zinc, protein, fiber, vitamin B5, niacin, choline, phosphorus, vitamin D, and selenium (1).
Aside from being supportive of overall wellness, oyster mushrooms have properties that can improve heart health, including cholesterol and blood pressure levels, support and strengthen your immune system, assist with regulating blood sugar, nurture gut health and a robust microbiome, and even act as a natural anti-inflammatory in the body (1).
Golden oyster mushrooms are native to Asia, so expect to find them in countries like Japan, Korea, Northern China, Thailand, and Eastern Russia. They can grow in various environments, so they pop up in regions outside their native habitat.
While they haven’t been labeled as such, there’s a growing conversation in the foraging community as to whether or not golden oyster mushrooms are invasive. When they start populating an area where they aren’t native, they take away resources native mushroom species thrive on. The may also have an impact on morels in some regions of North America (5).
Aside from farmers’ markets and grocery stores, and because of the potential impact a non-native species may have on a local ecosystem, learning how to grow your own golden oyster mushrooms could be an option. Mushroom cultivation can be easier than you think.
Oyster mushrooms thrive in various substrates such as sawdust, paper, pulp, coffee grounds, banana fronds, leaves, corn on the cob, and waste cotton (6). Remember, the substrate is what allows the mycelium to develop, and the mycelium supports the mushroom.
Foraging and wildcrafting are popular terms we’re hearing more and more about. And it’s a good idea to know what they mean and consider some of the ethics behind wildcrafting.
Generally, foraging refers to collecting wild food resources found in nature. While similar, wildcrafting is the practice of harvesting local resources for medicinal needs. Another essential aspect of wildcrafting is paying attention to the local environment and not overharvesting.
The good news is that harvesting mushrooms won’t damage the mycelium, a vast network of thread-like filaments responsible for absorbing nutrients, helping decompose organic matter, and recycling nutrients back into the soil.
Conversely, mushrooms are a food source for animals, insects, and other critters. One way to do your part is to take a spore print from the mushrooms you’ve harvested, especially if you plan to grow golden oyster mushrooms someday.
Once you’ve harvested your wild mushrooms, place the mushroom cap on a sheet of paper and leave it for several hours or overnight in an area where it will be undisturbed. The mushroom will release its spores and leave a print you can use later in identification or with a mushroom grow kit.
Oyster mushrooms are known for their delicate flavor, and golden oyster mushrooms are no exception. While their taste can vary somewhat depending on how they’re prepared, golden oyster mushrooms have the same sweetness and earthy flavor as regular oyster mushrooms, except they’re more pronounced.
Some describe golden oyster mushrooms as smelling like fresh watermelon or having a slightly citrus flavor profile. Most agree they have a nutty flavor, similar to roasted cashews, and become smoky or buttery when cooked. With their meaty texture and rich umami flavor, golden oyster mushrooms lend themselves to vegan and vegetarian cuisine and various dishes, such as soups, stir-fries, pasta dishes, and even sandwiches.
Sauté your golden oyster mushrooms in olive oil until crispy and add to a lunchtime sandwich. Or look for an oyster mushroom recipe like wild mushroom risotto. Along with shiitake mushrooms, this dish is a fantastic and flavorful way to enjoy golden oyster mushrooms and their health benefits.
No problem if you’ve scored some golden oyster mushrooms from the farmers market or grocery store and need help with what to do with them. Fresh mushrooms have a short shelf life, and there are things you can do to keep them from going to waste. You can cut your mushrooms into quarter-inch slices and dry them in a food dehydrator (or even your oven) to make mushroom powder so you can have them on hand when needed. They can be frozen for up to a month, either fresh from the store or after being cooked.
Psst: If you use dried mushrooms in your recipes, then you’re familiar with how they must be rehydrated before use. Not so with dried oyster mushrooms. These are ready to go when you are. Simply add them to your dish, and you’re good to go! Remember that these work best in dishes such as stir-fries or being added during the last few minutes of cooking.
With so many health benefits, adding golden oyster mushrooms into your life is a no-brainer. These beautiful and delicious mushrooms are a fantastic way to connect with traditional and natural medicine lineages and nature. Moreover, growing your golden oyster mushrooms can be a fun and educational project for you and the whole family. Be sure to keep up with the latest news and discoveries and learn about other types of mushrooms on shroomer.