Description and Characteristics
Oyster mushroom (sometimes called “oyster fungus” or “tree oyster”) is a soft mushroom characterized by its oyster-shaped cap which grows up to 25 centimeters across, usually white but there are also other colorings including gray, blue, yellow and pink. Furthermore, compared to most mushrooms, this species is smooth and does not have any scales or warts in its caps. The stem/stalk of oyster mushroom is mostly not visible because of the whitish-yellow gills wrapping around it. If seen, the stem is usually short and thick. The vegetative part of the mushroom which is also considered its roots is called the “mycelium” which consists of a mass of white, branching, web-like structure attaching to the surface/area where the mushroom is grown. Another feature in distinguishing mushroom species is through its spore print. It is commonly achieved by putting a drop of water on the top of the cap to help release the spores of the mushroom, then covering the cap with a paper cup or glass and leave for two to 24 hours until the spores fall on the paper, foil or glass, making the spore print pattern. The spore print of an oyster mushroom is white or lilac-gray. Also, this spore print can be used to grow mushrooms. The print is kept in a sealed bag in a cool, dry, dark place until it’s ready for cultivation. Oyster mushroom can be eaten raw (though it probably won’t digest properly) or cooked giving a subtle, mild flavor with a firm, tender, velvety textured flesh.
Mushrooms and/or fungi can look similar and only experts or people who have studied mushrooms should consume mushrooms that are found in the wild as there are some species that are poisonous and unsafe.
Location and Sources
Oyster mushrooms can grow at moderate temperatures ranging from 20°C to 300°C and humidity of 55% to 70%. This species of mushroom is very adaptable as they can grow just about anywhere given the right growth condition. Commonly, oyster mushrooms take hold on matter that is decaying such as a log, fallen trees or dead standing trees which are naturally found in temperate and subtropical forests around the world. Nowadays, anyone can already grow his/her own mushrooms using the Do-It-Yourself (DIY) or Grow-Your-Own Mushroom kits which are available in the market. It is purchased according to the type of mushrooms you wish to grow and each kit contains everything you need to successfully grow mushrooms. Mushrooms are now also grown in laboratories and farms usually for commercial purposes.
Application and Product Output
Being an edible and easily accessible food source, oyster mushrooms are cultivated at home and in farms mainly for this purpose. Oyster mushrooms are cooked into different dishes, used as a garnish, or in a blend with other mushrooms. Oyster mushroom is also considered as a great substitute for meat in a lot of plant-based recipes as it is said to replicate the taste and texture of meat. This species also offers vitamins and minerals including magnesium, riboflavin, phosphorus, potassium, and copper that are recognized to reduce health risks. Studies of oyster mushrooms also reveals different health benefits such as helping modulate blood cholesterol level, decreasing the size of tumors, and possible prevention of cancer.
Recent search for more environment-friendly products leads to the discovery of the different applications of fungi and mushroom including oyster mushroom. Product and fashion designers exposed the infinite potential of a mushroom part called the “mycelium”. Mushroom mycelium acts like a glue packing together other fibers to create a durable material that can be further processed and dyed to create different products such as containers, lampshades, and even textile. Different manufacturers have different processes in producing such material, one of which is directly growing oyster mushrooms in the pre-formed shapes made of plant fibers so that the mycelium will grip directly to the shape, and then later on, the mushroom itself can be harvested and cooked.
To date, the resulting product is commonly referred to as the “vegan-leather” and is accepted by the different industries especially in fashion as it is a more eco-friendly leather alternative. The resulting product which comes in different names including Mylo, MYX, and Muskin, can mimic the look and feel of a real leather, and it can be made into everything from shoes, bags, and jackets. Currently, companies are still developing different products made out of the said material which will be soon introduced to the mass market. Continuous research and innovation guaranteed the future of things made from mushrooms.
Production and Sustainable Consumption
Mushrooms and fungi are traditionally grown as food-source in which the production is proven sustainable due to its easy and large scale cultivation that can be done even at home. In the textile industry, product outputs made from mycelium are more environmentally-friendly and sustainable, especially that it does not involve slaughtering animals for their skin. Mushroom cultivation is 100% nature-friendly as this does not involve chemicals or processes that can harm the environment. Moreover, the product outputs are eco-friendly and compostable.
The year 2020 has open great promotion and opportunities for products made out of mushrooms and it is said that by 2021, these products are to be made available in the market. Kering (Gucci’s parent company), Adidas, Stella McCartney, and Lululemon have teamed up to invest in Mylo, a leather alternative material made from mushroom mycelium which was developed by US biotechnology company Bolt Threads. These major fashion houses are expected to release their products to the market by 2021 resulting in large scale cultivation/farming of mushrooms and production of the eco-friendly material. This newly discovered application of mushroom and fungi not only helped the textile and fashion industry but also offers a promising material that can be utilized to create different products which can be of great help in our day to day life.
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