Susanne Till.
The king oyster mushroom,
a superfood.

The king oyster mushroom
is easy
to cultivate.

The king oyster mushroom
is good for
your digestion.

Dr Susanne Till teaches at the Department of
Nutritional Sciences at the University of Vienna.

The king oyster mushroom is still relatively unknown here. You could even call it a hitherto underestimated superfood. Thanks to its valuable contents, it could easily feature on our menus more often. According to biologist Susanne Till, the king oyster mushroom is the ideal alternative, especially for people who want to do without meat now and again. It has a firm bite, no strong mushroom flavour and contains vitamins which are almost exclusively found in meat. This makes it the ideal basis for the HERMANN meat-free products. Susanne Till explains the other things that characterise it.

Where does the king oyster mushroom get its name? How can you identify it?

Unlike most edible mushrooms such as truffle or porcini which grow on trees, the king oyster mushroom grows at the base of plants. In the wild, however, it is extremely rare. It is closely related to the oyster mushroom. You can identify it based on its typically shaped fruiting body with mussel-shaped or crescent-shaped cap.

How is the king oyster mushroom different from other mushrooms?

The king oyster mushroom or Pleurotus eryngii, is easy to cultivate. Cultivating a truffle is incredibly difficult, and porcini cannot be cultivated at all. As with the oyster mushroom and the white mushroom, the king oyster mushroom decomposes dead organic material through its fine cell fibres. For example, wood or straw. It also doesn’t have a strong mushroom flavour, but it does have a texture which is firm to bite. This also makes the mushroom a great alternative to meat.

How are mushrooms different from meat and plants, what do they have in common?

Just like plants and animals, mushrooms form their own group of organisms, the “fungi”. The king oyster mushroom contains fibre. Meat does not contain fibre at all. It has a low fat content with a very good fatty acid composition – much better than meat, because mushrooms contain unsaturated fatty acids. It contains oleic acid and linoleic acid, has a low calorie content and contains components which are typical of mushrooms but can also be found in animals, which are vitamin D2 and vitamin B12. Fibre is the link between mushrooms and plants, the composition, however, is different. Plants are autotrophic, they contain chlorophyll. Mushrooms, on the other hand, rely on the presence of other living things which they can decompose. This makes them heterotrophic.

What other things are included in the king oyster mushroom?

Minerals such as potassium, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus and sodium. These contents are very tightly enclosed in the cell wall of the king oyster mushroom. We still know very little about the bioavailability. The HERMANN meat-free products have a great advantage. The more the fruiting body of a mushroom is chopped up, the better it cooks. If the contents are not damaged too much during the heating process, these contents are more available. Therefore, the type of processing makes a huge difference.

Does the king oyster mushroom affect our digestion or our health in general?

The king oyster mushroom has a positive effect on our digestion. There are billions of bacteria in the large intestine. There are bad intestinal bacteria and good intestinal bacteria. Symbiotes live in a positive community with the intestine. This means that they do not damage the cells of the intestine. The beta-glucans of the king oyster mushrooms feed the good intestinal bacteria selectively, meaning bifidobacteria and lactobacilli. This means that they are responsible for the growth and survival of the lactobacillus and bifidobacteria species, which is why we call them prebiotics. A prebiotic is characterised by being a specific component of a food which explicitly promotes the positive microflora bacteria. So, the contents of the king oyster mushroom aid the activity in the large intestine and thus also its health.