Know When to Harvest Oyster Mushrooms for the Best Results

Know When to Harvest Oyster Mushrooms for the Best Results

Are you interested in when to harvest oyster mushrooms? We share that information, and discuss the selling process for fresh mushrooms, too.

If you have gotten through the steps of inoculating, incubating, and fruiting oyster mushrooms, then you’ve come so close to completion! The next step is to harvest your delicious mushrooms. I have outlined some tips on when to harvest oyster mushrooms below. Underneath that information I have included some more content on mushrooms, which I hope you find interesting.

Knowing when to harvest oyster mushrooms

The last steps to commercial mushroom cultivation involves harvesting, storing, and selling the mushrooms. Oyster mushrooms have an extremely fast growth rate. When growing in the 60’s or at higher temperatures, the mushrooms typically need to be harvested twice a day in the morning and night. The oyster mushrooms should be harvested before the edges of the caps flatten out completely or even flip up. Having a slight roll on the edge of the oyster mushroom will maintain the ideal texture and storability of the mushroom. Harvesting at this stage also limits the amount of spores being released by the mushroom. Harvesting can be done into crates and plastic bins with holes to allow breathability. The mushrooms should not be packed too deep, at most two on top of each other as they are extremely fragile. Once the harvest is complete the mushrooms should be stored at 36-38 degrees Fahrenheit. To minimize drying, a cover or towel should be placed over the mushrooms but some holes in the container or a paper box/bag are needed to allow air exchange. If the mushrooms are stored in the sealed container the water cannot evaporate and a rot will form within a couple of days. If properly stored, the mushrooms can keep for about 10 days.

Selling your harvested oyster mushrooms 

When selling mushrooms it is great to have consistent customers that are willing to purchase every week. Restaurants, CSAs, farmers’ markets, co-ops, grocery stores, and distributors all make for good selling outlets. At farmers’ markets it can be good to sell by the pint instead of by the pound. Many consumers find a $5 pint of mushrooms more reasonable than mushrooms for $15/lb. This way a predetermined amount is given to the customer making it faster and easier to sell. If packaging it is vital the mushrooms have ventilation in the package. If the mushrooms are placed in a place with no airflow they will quickly rot. This is a balancing act as too much airflow will force them to dry out and lose quality quickly.

Growing interest in oyster mushrooms may lead to more availability

The amount of small mushroom farms has exploded over the last decade. This can be attributed to three factors:
  1. The increase in information and resources available to potential mushroom growers. Two-five day mushroom cultivation workshops are being offered around the country, sharing the fundamentals of growing mushrooms. Internet forums and Facebook groups help growers share information and new ideas between each other.
  2. The local food movement has created a desire for the consumer to know where their food is coming from and who produced it. This movement is encouraging a shift from large national farms to small-medium local and regional mushroom farms.
  3. America is going beyond the button. More species of mushrooms are being introduced into the American diet. These “specialty” mushrooms, which include anything not in the Agaricus genus, are being consumed from fine dining to the family dining table. The production and consumption of shiitake mushrooms has soared in the United States in the last 20 years. Oyster, lion’s mane, pioppino, maitake, king trumpet and other specialty mushrooms are experiencing a large increase in production and consumption.
From 2013-2015 production of specialty mushrooms increased by 37%. Mushroom consumers are starting to understand that mushrooms can bring many different flavors and textures to a meal. Furthermore, oyster mushrooms are particularly well suited for the small to medium mushroom producer. Oyster mushrooms are native to the Northeastern US, with the most common being the species Pleurotus ostreatus, also known as the pearl oyster.

Do you want to practice when to harvest oyster mushrooms at home? You can be growing your own oyster mushrooms with a ready-to-fruit mushroom growing kit

You can grow oyster mushrooms at home, in any scale you’d like, via an array of mushroom cultivation techniques. You can grow them on straw, on wood chips, on grain, or even on toilet paper. Oysters love cellulose-rich substrates and these mushrooms are aggressive colonizers. The easiest way to grow oyster mushrooms at home for beginners is by using a ready-to-fruit mushroom growing kit. These 5.5 pound kits can fruit mushrooms within 14 days of starting the kit. These kits typically produce multiple flushes and can yield up to two pounds of mushrooms. We have a variety of mushroom species available, including an array of beautiful oyster mushrooms like the blue oyster, pink oyster, and the yellow or golden oyster. Check out our entire selection of mushroom growing kits here.
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