Oyster Mushroom (Pleurotus ostreatus)

Description: Those hardy souls who take long winter walks are sometimes treated to the sight of a snow-capped mass of fresh oyster mushrooms growing on a tree or log.
This large white, tan or ivory-colored mushroom is named for its oyster shell-like shape. It has white gills running down a very short, off-center stem. Spores are white to lilac, and the flesh is very soft. Oyster mushrooms usually are found in large clusters of overlapping caps and always on wood. Size: 2 to 8 inches wide.
When and Where: Spring, summer, fall and during warm spells in winter. On trees and fallen logs.
Cautions: This mushroom has a number of look-alikes, (including Crepidotus and Lentinus spp.), but none are dangerous. they may, however, be woody or unpleasant-tasting. Check by tasting a small piece and by making a spore print. Watch out for the small black beetles which sometimes infest this mushroom.
Cooking Hints: Soak in salted water to remove bugs. Dip in beaten egg, roll in cracker crumbs and fry.

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