While enjoying some forest stewardship time with a neighbor, we stumbled upon a cash of spring oyster mushrooms Pleurotus ostreatus. The older red alders were in perfect form, having received a good drenching over the past week. On both standing and resting, logs, we found a treasure. The other great thing about this discovery, is timing. We found almost all of the flushes were fresh, and had very little bugs.
After gathering several meals worth of mushrooms, we put some right into a cast iron pan for a good dry sate. Then added a little butter for flavor and salt to taste. It was a wonderful first feast, but there were more to come!
Back at home, I took a handkerchief home and later that evening, took time to finish cleaning and sorting the fungus. I took the wettest ones and threw them onto a stone pizza pan. Then I threw them in the oven at 375F for 20 minutes. They were cap up, because the gills are vulnerable to the heat. Initial cooking of most mushrooms lets the water cook out. If the water is not released, flavors will not come in and you are left with a soggy noodle.
Next, I flipped the mushrooms on the pan and added salt, onion powder, and garlic powder, along with a little sriracha. You can add any flavors you want, or a marinade. The gills up allow the flavors to stay on the mushrooms. I dabbed on powders and put the shrooms back in the oven at a reduced 350F for another ten minutes. If the mushrooms look crisp and brown, take em out. If they are still a little white and wet, turn off oven, but leave them in to cook a little more.
When the mushrooms came out of the oven, still warm, I added olive oil and some sun dried tomatoes. It was a fabulous dinner, and I had it again the next night. By then, my mushrooms were at the end of their firmness. You don’t want to eat old mushrooms. Browning, softening, and bug predation will speed the decomposition of a fungus. Eat them as young as you can, and don’t keep in fridge beyond a few days. Fresh is best.
Oysters are like pasta, and I think on my next harvest, I’ll try lasagna. When these mushrooms are flushing in the forest, you’ll have a haul- most of it’s water though, so plan to cook down a lot. The oyster does not dehydrate well, so stick to fresh eating. I hear some people pickle them, but I’ve never tried, and don’t have it high on my list of experiments coming down the line.