Best Substrate for Oyster Mushrooms: Ultimate Guide

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Last Updated on March 13, 2023

The oyster mushroom is a popular edible mushroom that is loved by many. Different substrates can be used for growing this oyster mushroom. But do you know which is the best substrate for oyster mushrooms? Let’s find out.

Oyster mushrooms are a group of gilled mushrooms, and this means they are classified as fungi. However, they are the type of fungi that is totally different from plants. Oyster mushrooms can be enjoyed in your various dishes. They are also known for their great health benefits.

So, this article covers what you need to know about growing an oyster mushroom, choosing the best substrate for oyster mushrooms, and so on. So, continue reading for some knowledge on this.

About Oyster Mushroom

The popular edible oyster mushroom (Pleurotus ostreatus) is a member of the Pleurotus genus. The oyster mushroom is a close relative to the king oyster mushroom, and the oyster mushroom is one of the most cultivated mushrooms around the world.

These mushrooms were first cultivated by the Germans during World War II. Then this mushroom is now been grown commercially around the world for food.

The shape of the oyster mushroom tends to be a funneled-shaped cap. It has a white to light brown, to a darker brown color. The flesh is white, then the gills appear whitish-yellow and run up a short off-center stem. The gills of oyster mushrooms tend to be recurrent, and the stalks are short and stout.

You can find oyster mushrooms in the forest in both temperate and tropical climates. These mushrooms are saprotrophic and are mostly found as fungi on hardwood trees. They can as well be found in unhealthy dying or dying trees or on decaying conifer woods.

Surprisingly, oyster mushrooms are carnivores that kill and digest nematodes just to obtain nitrogen from them.

Oyster mushrooms are edible and can be enjoyed in various dishes such as pasta and stir-fries. These mushrooms can be eaten raw or you can cook them. They also offer impressive health benefits.

What is the Best Substrate for Oyster Mushrooms?

Generally, when it comes to choosing the best substrate for mushrooms, straw is the most used for growing mushrooms. However, there are other varieties of substrate that you can go for. It all depends on what you have available.

Other substrates such as wheat straws, sawdust pellets, coffee grounds, cardboard, coco coir, as well as other agricultural waste by-products all make an ideal growing medium for oyster mushrooms. Just go for the substrate that is easier to access.

Wood pellets are also a great substrate to be used for your oyster mushroom. This is because they come sterilized. You just need to add water to get a good growing substrate for your mushrooms.

growing oyster mushrooms

How Do You Make Oyster Mushroom Substrate?

A substrate is a medium for growing things. A substrate is used to grow mycelium that provides the root of the mushroom. Now, this is essential for the successful cultivation of mushrooms.

Preparing your substrate refers to the process of inoculation. Now inoculation is the point where you add the mushroom spawns to your growing medium.

So, when it comes to making or preparing your substrate for oyster mushrooms, you need to be very careful not to contaminate the substrate. Contamination can encourage mold to begin to grow on the substrate and mushrooms, which is what we don’t want.

Therefore, ensure you wash your hands properly and use a clean kitchen gloves. Then use mild bleach to wipe down all surfaces to eliminate any microorganisms or germs.

Once you’ve successfully prepared the growing substrate, you can then proceed to the next stage. You can learn further about how you can grow this mushroom below.

How to Grow Oyster Mushrooms

Growing oyster mushrooms can be an easy thing if you get the right knowledge about them. Although oyster mushrooms are usually seen growing abundantly in the wild, you can grow oyster mushrooms in your home.

Mini All-in-One Mushroom Grow Bag

Here is a quick guide on how you can grow oyster mushrooms at home:

Supplies needed

To grow oyster mushrooms, you need to prepare your growing site and procure your growing materials. Here are the important supplies you will need:

  • Growing substrate (e.g. sawdust, straw, coffee grounds, and so on)
  • You will need oyster mushroom spawn
  • Then you will need growing bags or containers (note that oyster mushrooms can be grown in buckets or even Ziploc bags)

However, you can obtain ready-made growing kits for your oyster mushrooms from some retailers.

The process of growing oysters can be broken down into 3 phases:

Oyster mushroom growth stages

  1. Inoculation

The substrate material of your choice is mixed with the oyster mushroom spawn. The growing medium, which is the substrate, should be placed in the bag or container. Make sure there are holes or air filters in the bag for air exchange.

  1. Incubation

Next, place the bags in a warm dark room. This is to incubate and begin the first phase of growth.

For the spawn to grow a full web of root-like threads of mycelium and colonize the growing medium; it only needs about 10 to 14 days to achieve this.

  1. Fruiting

The mushroom will begin fruiting once the growing substrate has been totally colonized by the spawn. Then the bags or containers will need to be exposed to autumn-like conditions with fresh oxygen, low light levels, high humidity, and cooler temperatures.

Doing this will signal the mycelium to begin to produce mushrooms. The small pins will start to sprout. So, you will start to notice oyster mushroom pins coming out from the holes of the bag.

The last surviving response of the mycelium results in fruiting. In the wild, this fruiting is a result of the response to stress from the mycelium that happens due to changes in the environment.

Hence, imitation of this stress in the form of starvation will give rise to the survival response in your bag or container.

In just about 5 to 7 days, the tiny pins sprouting will grow and develop into a full-size mushroom.

Oyster Mushroom Cultivation Using Sawdust

If you’re wondering how to cultivate oyster mushrooms using sawdust, then look no further. For this recipe, you’ll need the following ingredients:

  • 5 cups of sawdust (ensure you use hardwood pellets)
  • 1.4 liters of water
  • 1 cup of wheat bran

Now all you need to do is:

  1. Once you’ve measured your ingredients, place your pellets and water into a container, and mix well. At this point, it should look more like the sawdust you’re familiar with. You can use either warm or cool water for this.
  2. Once your pellets are sawdust and loose, add your cup of wheat bran. Distribute evenly in the sawdust and mix well.
  3. Now add the sawdust mixture to grow bags. For every grow bag, you’ll need around 4 lbs and 4oz of the mixture.
  4. Once you’ve added the mixture to your grow bag, you’ll need to add a filter to help fight against contamination. Add the filter and then fold the top of the bag over a few times.
  5. Place the grow bag(s) into a pressure sterilizer. They can be placed on top of one another. Ensure the bags aren’t in direct contact with the base of the sterilizer. Add the water and place something heavy on top to secure the bags. Then leave for around two and a half hours.
  6. Leave to cool for around 8 hours, or overnight. Add grain spawn to your bags and tie them with a zip tie. Shake the bag well.
  7. Leave for around 10-21 days before you notice any results. However, check frequently to see if any problems or contamination are occurring. Once colonization has happened, your mushrooms are set to fruit! Simply cut off the top of your bag and get ready to grow!

Best Wood for Oyster Mushrooms

If you’re wondering what the best wood is for oyster mushrooms, then look no further. You can use either softwood or hardwood. However, I prefer to use softwood. Common favorites for mushrooms are soft maple, aspen, or birch sweet gum.

How to Sterilize Mushroom Substrate

You can sterilize the mushroom substrate with or without a pressure cooker. We’ll be taking a look at how to do both. Sterilization is important for some mushroom substrates as it’s the best way to avoid contamination. It’s important to note that simply boiling the substrate probably isn’t enough. Temperatures must be above 120C to remove all pollutants.

Using a pressure cooker, all you need to do is add the substrates to the cooker and cover them with water. Add the lid and allow the temperature to reach 120C to sterilize your substrate.

If you can not use a pressure cooker for this, you can try fractional sterilization. This is boiling jars until they reach 120C. You can use either an oven or an autoclave for this. However, this may cause your substrate to dry out and render it unusable, so you have to be extremely careful when using this method.

best wood for oyster mushrooms

Conclusion: Best Substrate for Oyster Mushrooms 

When it comes to selecting the best substrate for oyster mushrooms, it really comes down to which substrate you can easily obtain. Most types of substrates will work just fine. Therefore, you can simply go for what you have available.

Do you have any other ideas for the best substrate for oyster mushrooms? If so, please feel free to let us know in the comments below. And remember, sharing is caring! 

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