Pleurotus pulmonarius – Italian Oyster Mushrooms

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Italian oyster mushrooms (Pleurotus pulmonarius) are edible oyster mushrooms that grow in New England from summer-fall. These mushrooms tend to be smaller and whiter than the Pearl Oyster mushroom (Pleurotus ostreatus) which prefers cooler weather.
Oyster mushrooms are among the most cultivated and consumed edible mushrooms in the world.
Oyster mushrooms are identified by their fan-shaped cap and decurrent gills that run down their stubby, off-center stem. Oyster mushrooms are saprobes, often growing in a shelf-like formation with overlapping clusters on deciduous trees. They have a licorice scent when fresh and a white to lilac gray spore print.
Oyster mushrooms have an incredible ability to clean up pollution and mitigate oil spills. They are even being used to make mushroom leather. Oyster mushrooms are also amongst the easiest mushrooms to cultivate.
Oyster mushrooms are not super flavorful, but they have a mild umami flavor and a dense meaty texture. Oyster mushrooms are great dry sautéed or added to curries or sauces. They also dry well.
Oyster mushrooms must be differentiated from the potentially poisonous Angel Wings (Pleurocybella porrigens). Angel wings lack stems, have thinner and flimsier flesh, have a pure ivory color, and grow on conifers.

Written by Amy Demers, founder of the Connecticut Foraging Club. To learn more about foraging in Connecticut, check out our upcoming classes.

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