As the weather gets cooler and the rains come, mushroom collectors go off into the woods to hunt for prizes. We haven't had any rain in the Bay Area yet, but if you're getting rain in your area, you may be seeing more fungi at your local farmer's markets and greengrocers.
We have been seeing a lot of cultivated mushrooms showing up at the markets here, and one new item making the rounds is the pink oyster mushroom. Oyster mushrooms originated in Asia and are called "oysters" because of their shape - they're flat with curly edges. Some people claim they also have a slight oyster taste.
Oysters are one of the most popular wild mushrooms. They often grow on the sides of tree trunks. Oyster mushrooms should be cultivated from hardwood; the ones growing on softwood are poisonous. Note: please do not pick wild mushrooms on your own unless you have been trained by a professional to identify them. Lack of mushroom picking knowledge can be fatal!
Pink oyster mushrooms are one variety of oyster mushrooms. They can also come in white, brown, golden, and blue colors. All fade to creamy gray when cooked. Pink oysters have a surprisingly short shelf life, and can disintegrate within 12 hours. Should you buy some, cook them immediately. You can also grow your own with this pink oyster kit.
(Image: Kathryn Hill)