Oyster-of-the-Woods

Winter is still a productive season for wild food if you know where to look. Out on Dartmoor, along the River Teign is a stump which produces a crop of Oyster Mushrooms every year. Looking in this 1930s book it says: “The fungus is most prevalent in October and November, when it presents a striking appearance on a dark dull day.”

Pleurotus ostreatus - The Hall of Einar

That’s very true.

Pleurotus ostreatus - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the)

There are a lot of fruiting bodies so I feel confident in just taking two of them home. The gills underneath are fascinating. I love the way that as the radiating gills grow further apart from one another new gills fill in the gaps in a perfect mathematical pattern. It appears to have evolved to make maximum surface area to release the microscopic white spores without crowding interfering with spore release.

Oyster Mushroom - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the)

Never cut Oyster Mushrooms with a knife; it’s not necessary. All you have to do is rip them into shreds along the line of the gills from the outside in. It works perfectly. I fried them in a mixture of goat’s butter and extra virgin olive oil and made an omelette with chilli, garlic and fresh coriander.

Delicious on a dark dull day.

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