Oyster mushrooms are a staple in any mycologist’s garden. These tasty, easy-to-grow mushrooms can be added to egg dishes, soups and salads. But when should you harvest your oyster mushrooms? Here’s what you need to know about harvesting these tasty fungi.
When To Harvest Oyster Mushrooms
It’s time to harvest your oyster mushrooms when the caps are fully open. You will know they’re ready when they are dry and firm to the touch. Just like with other fungi, it’s important not to harvest too early or too late—if you do, you’ll end up with rotten mushrooms that may be inedible or even toxic!
To start looking for signs of readiness:
Pick a mushroom that has several pins growing from its side (the “spokes”). This means it is mature enough to be harvested soon.
Use these guidelines: If all of the spokes point downward toward the wood or other substrate upon which it sits, then proceed with harvesting; if not then allow them more time before picking as they may still continue growing.
When Is The Best Month To Harvest Oyster Mushrooms?
Oyster mushrooms are ready to harvest when they have reached their desired color and size. The best month for harvesting varies by species, so it’s important to know which oyster mushroom you’re growing before determining the best time to harvest.
For example, P. ostreatus will turn a darker brownish-gray with dark spots as it ages, while P. pulmonarius is more likely to stay white or light gray throughout its life cycle. However, both of these oyster mushrooms can be harvested in any month if you want them young and small or if they’ve already developed spores (which should not be consumed).
Can You Harvest Oyster Mushrooms Too Early?
Yes, you can harvest oyster mushrooms too early. You can also harvest them too late. The trick to harvesting oyster mushrooms is knowing when they’re ready to be picked. If you wait too long, they’ll have lost their meaty texture and won’t taste as good; if you pick them too soon, they won’t be fully developed yet. So how do you know when to pick your oyster mushrooms?
You’ll know it’s time to harvest your oysters when the caps begin turning from white or light brown to darker shades of brown or blackish-brown. Some varieties may even develop a red hue on top as well! When this happens, it means that these little guys are ready for harvesting ASAP so that all of those good nutrients don’t get lost in the process (or worse: drop down into your compost bin).
How to Harvest Oyster Mushrooms
The two main methods used to harvest oyster mushrooms are picking and growing the mushrooms on logs.
Harvesting by hand. This is the traditional way to harvest oyster mushrooms. To do it, you’ll want to be sure your hands are clean and dry before handling the mushrooms. You can either pick them individually or pick small clusters of them at once.
If you’re picking individual mushrooms, you can use a small pair of scissors or pruners to cut off the stem from underneath each mushroom. Or if you have a large group of mushrooms growing close together, gently pull on the stem until it releases its hold on the log and separate it from the cluster. Either way, try not to break off any other stems when you’re removing them from their host tree or stump because they can rot and spread disease throughout your patch of mushrooms if left on site too long after harvest.
Harvesting by log cultivation. Cultivating oyster mushroom logs is an easier alternative that produces more mushrooms than hand harvesting does because it doesn’t require much effort beyond inoculating logs with spawn (fungal spores) and letting nature take its course over time.
Storing Oyster Mushrooms After Harvesting
If you have ever tried to grow your own mushrooms at home, you know that they are not that hard to grow. There are a number of different ways you can store them.
Oyster mushrooms can be stored in the refrigerator for a few days after harvest. They are also good candidates for freezing and drying.
Refrigeration: Refrigeration is probably the most common method used to store oyster mushrooms after harvesting.
Freezing: You can freeze oyster mushrooms by placing them in an airtight container or bag, removing as much air as possible, and storing them in the freezer for up to six months. You can use frozen oysters in soups or stews or add them to other dishes where they will be cooked before serving (like stir-fries). You can also use frozen oysters as part of a marinade for meats such as chicken or pork chops before grilling or broiling them.
Drying: Drying is another method that works well with oysters because it allows you to store them for extended periods of time without worrying about spoilage from moisture loss. Dried oysters keep well at room temperature if they are kept away from humidity sources like windowsills or heaters.
There are many factors that can affect the taste and texture of your oyster mushrooms. The weather, soil type, humidity levels, and even how you store them after harvesting all affect how long they will last. However, now that you know how to harvest oyster mushrooms at their optimal stage of maturity, it should be easier for you to get them just right every time!