The return of the mighty King - King Oyster that is!
Growing mushrooms at home, with the seasons, means autumn is the time for abundance of Pleurotus eryngii - the delicious King Oyster mushroom. Although they can be grown throughout the year, we find they produce in abundance during Autumn and Spring. When Will first grew the King Oyster I thought it was called the King due to its remarkably large fruiting body. I soon learnt it is actually due to its superior flavor and texture. Other names include Abalone mushroom, and royal trumpet.We now grow small ones, like the Italians prefer (they call it Cordoncello), as well as the big ones preferred by Koreans and Chinese (they call it xìng bào gū).
This is by far our favourite oyster mushroom for several reasons; the whole mushroom is edible, including the stem; the texture, similar to abalone or calamari, holds up well even with prolonged cooking; the spore load is significantly lower than other oysters; they were the first oyster mushrooms we grew; they are the easiest mushroom to clone, thanks to their size; they have a longer shelf life than most mushrooms; and they are much easier to harvest, especially when big.
Growing Tips and Tricks for Pleurotus eryngii The King Oyster is unlike other oyster mushrooms such as the Blue, White, Yellow and Pink oysters, in that it's natural habitat is in the ground, not on trees above the ground. These mushrooms grow on many substrates such as coffee grounds, straw and even cardboard. They are one on the most basic saprophytic mushrooms to grow. We have used many methods to grow King Oysters mushrooms at home. The simplest method is to add grain spawn to fresh sawdust that has been soaked in water with hydrated lime.The King Oyster likes a couple more goodies to really boom - which is what you want with these ones! We have found adding up to 40% bran to the sawdust mix, then pressure cooking (or steaming) the substrate, prior to inoculating, increases the yields significantly. See our post on how to make supplemented sawdust substrates for further info.
A supplemented sawdust mix
King Oyster mushrooms are one of the few oyster mushrooms that can benefit from a casing layer. We have trialed coir, garden dirt, sand, and combinations, and they all worked. Casing results in bigger caps, more substantial and sustained yields, however, if you grow outside, like we usually do, then you will need to clean the casing off the stems. If it rains heavily, or you water with a hose, the casing splashes against the mushroom. We now harvest the first 2 flushes from uncased bags of substrate, then bury the blocks in our garden, which is similar to casing, and we are rewarded with monster garden King Oysters.
A big uncased King Oyster
A really big cased King Oyster mushroom