Top Tips for Oysters at Home

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Oysters 101

Shucking oysters & busting myths

Diving deep (for oysters) to get you everything you need to know about, well, oysters. Actually, that’s a euphemism, since oysters are most commonly found in shallow waters—not deep waters. To be specific, oysters come from estuaries, bays, and coastal areas, specifically where saltwater and freshwater mix. Now, our top tips for how to prepare oysters, what to eat with them, and all the basics of looking like you know what you’re doing when it comes to the world of oysters.

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1. What are the different types of oysters?

There are various different kinds of oysters, and these are a few that we love to eat:

  • Atlantic oysters
  • Pacific oysters
  • Kumamoto oysters
how to shuck an oyster

2. How do you shuck an oyster?

What even is shucking? Shucking an oyster refers to the process of opening the shell to remove the edible part inside. It is a delicate process, so it’s advised to use a thick cloth or gloves when handling, since oysters’ shells can be sharp. 

What you'll need:

  • Fresh oysters
  • Oyster knife: a short, blunt knife specifically for shucking oysters
  • Thick cloth or glove for hand protection
  • A plate of crushed ice or rock salt

Steps to shuck oysters

  1. Check the oysters: Inspect the oysters to make sure they are fresh and alive. Live oysters will be tightly closed, or slightly open and will close tightly when tapped. If any oysters are open and don’t close when tapped, they’re likely dead and should be thrown out.
  2. Clean the oysters: Rinse the oysters under cold running water to remove any dirt or debris from the shell's exterior.
  3. Secure the oyster: Hold the oyster flat-side up in one hand, using a thick cloth or glove to protect your hand. The bottom side of the oyster will face down, and the hinge (pointed end) will face you.
  4. Find the hinge: The oyster's hinge is the point where the two shell halves come together. This is the toughest part of the shell.
  5. Insert the oyster knife: With the oyster securely held in one hand, take the oyster knife in your other hand. Place the tip of the oyster knife near the hinge, applying gentle pressure to wiggle the knife into the gap between the shells.
  6. Twist the knife: Once the knife is inserted, twist it gently to pry the shells apart. Be patient here; gentleness is key.
  7. Open the oyster: As the shells begin to separate, slide the knife along the inside top shell to cut the muscle that holds the oyster to the top shell.
  8. Detach the top shell: Once the muscle is cut, remove the top shell completely, exposing the oyster inside the bottom shell.
  9. Check for shell fragments: Carefully inspect the oyster for any shell fragments. Use the knife or your fingers to remove any pieces that may have fallen into the oyster.
  10. Serve and enjoy: The hard work is done! Carry on with the rest of our tips below. 

3. What are the best oyster accouterments? Aka, what are the best things to serve with your oysters? 

Don’t overload your oyster! ‘Naked’ oysters will let you savor the natural taste a bit more. Here’s a few we like best:

  • Squeeze of lemon
  • Red wine vinegar & shallot mignonette
  • Cocktail sauce
  • Horseradish

4. Oyster pairing: What is best to drink with oysters? 

Staying hydrated is key, as always. 

  • Champagne and other dry, sparkling white wines
  • Guinness (and other stouts)
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For your best champagne experience… How Stemware Affects the Taste of Champagne

5. What are some other ways to eat oysters?

Variety to keep your oyster prep interesting, if you weren’t already spicing things enough by venturing into oysters!

Myth busters! 

Since oysters come from a far off land associated with mermaids and pirates, here is our attempt to bust open the myths…and hopefully find the hidden pearl. 

Oysters are aphrodisiacs… or are they?

Our team of Partytrickers did a bit of sleuthing here, we’ll let you make the final call here. 

Can you find pearls in the oysters you eat?

Yes! Pearls can be found in some oysters that you eat, but it's quite rare. Pearls are formed when an irritant like a grain of sand or a piece of debris gets trapped inside the oyster's soft body. In response, the oyster protects itself by creating a substance to coat the irritant. Over time, layers of nacre are deposited on the irritant, and this is what forms a pearl.

However, it’s very uncommon that the oysters you get from a seafood market or restaurant would have pearls inside them. Best to go searching for those out in the wild ;)

Only eat oysters that were harvested in months with the letter ‘R’

As rumor had it… the reason for this myth is that oysters are more likely to spoil or be contaminated during the warmer months, which are typically May through August in the Northern Hemisphere (months without the letter 'R'). Historically, before modern cooling and transportation methods, eating oysters during these months could pose a higher risk of foodborne illnesses. Today, oysters can be safely enjoyed throughout the year, as long as they are sourced from reputable suppliers and handled properly. 

Are bigger oysters better?

Not necessarily! As could be guessed, all is based on your preferences. Larger oysters may provide varying benefits, so oyster size depends on what you’re looking for. Here are a few factors of how size impacts oyster enjoyment: 

  • Taste and texture: Some people think that larger oysters have a more robust flavor and a firmer texture, while others prefer the delicate taste and tenderness of smaller oysters. The taste can also be influenced by the oyster's species, environment, and the water they come from.
  • Consistency and presentation: When it comes to serving oysters on the half shell, some people prefer to have the same sizes for aesthetic reasons.
  • Preparation: Size can influence how oysters are used in the kitchen. Larger oysters are often preferred for grilling, roasting, or baking because they can hold up better to high heat. Smaller oysters, on the other hand, might be favored for raw consumption on the half shell, since they are more bite-sized.
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Now, for you to get out there and make use of all the oyster knowledge you now have. Hey, why not keep the night entertaining and blow your guests away with the fun facts you know now. Go-to oyster game: Busting myths & shucking oysters. 

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