wild mushrooms

wild mushrooms

How to forage wild oyster mushrooms


Foraging Wild Oyster Mushrooms


If you’re in the California area where wine country tours are extremely common, you should think about taking a day to forage some wild oyster mushrooms. While these mushrooms can run you a pretty penny at a gourmet market, there’s no reason why you can’t just go forage for them yourself. In fact, these delicious mushrooms are some of the only ones that you can find year-round. So, whenever you’re ready to go on some California wine tours, keep a lookout for these delicious mushrooms!


The Appeal of Wild Oyster Mushrooms

When you buy oyster mushrooms, they are most likely cultivated rather than plucked from the wild. As you probably know from other kinds of foods, there’s nothing like the taste of food that has been taken right from the great outdoors. Plus, foraging for them yourself adds another type of appreciation for the taste.


Although you can find these in California during every season, many people believe that oyster mushrooms are most tasty in the fall. Autumn is the perfect time to check out some Napa Valley wine country tours, so this works out great if you want to pair these two activities together. You can also stay in the city and schedule some wine country tours from San Francisco. No matter where you are in California, beautiful rural areas are just a short drive away.


How to Identify Wild Oyster Mushrooms

Of course, whenever it comes to foraging for wild food, it’s important that you know how to identify what’s what. This is especially true with mushrooms. Oyster mushrooms (pleurotus ostreatus) break down dead hardwood. It’s a decomposer mushroom that is commonly found on stumps and dead trees. Next, we’ll offer some information to help you with oyster mushroom identification.


The reason why they are called oyster mushrooms is because they grow together in bunches and look like a bunch of oyster shells stacked up on top of each other. The fact that they grow in bunches makes them a lot more convenient to forage. They are easier to see, and once they are found, you usually have a decent haul right off the bat. Oyster mushrooms are gilled on their undersides as well as part way down their stems. The color of their tops ranges from off-white all the way to brown.


Add Mushroom Foraging to Your Trip’s Itinerary!

Whether you plan on going on a Napa and Sonoma wine country tour or some San Francisco wine tours straight from the city, foraging for wild oyster mushrooms is another activity that we recommend adding to your list. Seriously, these clusters of oyster mushrooms are often found pounds at a time! After you’ve spent a lovely day in the beautiful forests of Northern California foraging for some wild oyster mushrooms, you can sit back and relax, knowing that you have some delicious meals on the way. Their mild flavor is perhaps best enjoyed sautéed in butter and oil or added to some creamy sauces. You can also make “oyster” stew!

Want to learn with us? Check out our wild mushroom classes all around northern CA throughout the winter and spring. Check out all our dates here.

wild mushrooms

How to grow your very own oyster mushrooms at home!


Have you had the chance to try oyster mushrooms yet? These delicious mushrooms can be bought in markets, foraged, and even grown at home or in your backyard! There are many reasons to start growing oyster mushrooms. For one, it’s fun to care for, harvest, and eat food, all from the convenience of your home. Moreover, oyster mushrooms are delicious and have a number of health benefits!


Oyster mushrooms make a strong case for being the easiest type of mushroom to grow at home. Not only do they grow quickly but they are also pretty resistant to competing organisms. Plus, this kind of mushroom can grow from a variety of substrate materials. Of course, if you’re foraging for oyster mushrooms in the wild, you’ll want to watch out for oyster mushroom look-alikes. The Angel Wings mushroom, for example, is a potentially poisonous mushroom which looks similar to the oyster mushroom. However, when you grow at home you won’t have to worry about this! Below, we’ll break down how to grow oyster mushrooms so you can get started!

The Grow Process

The first step is inoculation. You’ll want to mix the oyster mushroom spawn with some type of substrate material. This can be coffee grounds, sawdust, cardboard and more! You’ll then place this mixture into bags that have small holes so that air can be exchanged properly.

Next, the incubation period begins. Place the bags in a dark room that is ideally somewhere between 68-75 degrees Fahrenheit. The spawn will grow within 10-14 days. You’ll notice the presence of white webs growing in the bag when the spawn is ready to start fruiting.

To start the fruiting process, the bag should be exposed to fall-like conditions. This includes cooler temperatures, low-level light, lots of fresh oxygen, and high humidity. After you begin this process, these mushrooms will become full size within a week.


The Health Benefits


Oyster mushrooms have reached a new level of popularity in recent years because of their health benefits, how easy they are to grow, and because they make a great addition to all kinds of meals. The list of health benefits from oyster mushrooms really goes on and on. They help boost the immune system. They are antiviral, antimicrobial, and anticancer. Plus, oyster mushrooms are rich in protein, free of cholesterol, and have tons of vitamins including vitamin D and vitamin A.

They are called oyster mushrooms because they grow in bunches and their tops tend to look similar to oyster shells. You can grow quite the haul at home with very little trouble. There is obviously plenty you can do with this mild-tasting mushroom which can help compliment a variety of meals.

You can toss the mushrooms into a pan and sauté them with butter and oil, or you can add them to a creamy sauce. Many people enjoy tossing oyster mushrooms into a stew. Once you have them readily available in the comfort of your own home, you’ll be able to figure out plenty of creative ways to use them.

wild mushrooms, Recipes

A Morel Dilemna: AND a recipe

This is a guest post from our fearless mushroom leader Patrick Hamilton  

The snarkiest of mushroomers, and even the most polite and PC picker, will tell you, "Morels grow where they want to grow."

            Simple as that. And difficult as that.


            After decades of pursuing these delectable fungi, this morel hunter knows full well what others speak of with either despair or hopefulness, in sarcasm or earnestness: morels seem to appear here and there, but not there and here—at least not consistently.

            Or maybe they do. To find out, you simply have to obey the adage all true mushroom people understand: "If you don't go, you won't know!"

            So come on one of our Sierra mountain forays and explore the opportunities to find the ever elusive morel, or maybe even spring king porcini!

            Here's a quick and easy method for what to do with those you might find.


-Morels: The Very Best Way-

Serves 2

            Rinse the morels, making sure no dirt is left on the stem bottoms. Then chop or slice a handful into wheels, and put them into a medium hot sauté pan with 1 1/2 tbsp of sweet butter. Cook for at least 5 minutes, mixing a bit. 

            In the meantime, finely chop about 1 tbsp of shallots and toss them in too. Stir, shake, or agitate the pan to mix. Cook for a minute or two. Add a small splash of dry Sherry; mix and cook au sec, then add a nice amount of heavy cream and cook for just a minute or two over low heat.

            Use your best sea salt flakes and fresh ground pepper to finish.

            Serve over great bread (like brioche, but not any strongly flavored loaf) or toast rounds. This will be another one of those voila moments that will make you the most popular person in the kitchen, period. 

            Do share.