How To Choose Oysters


The following tips will help you know how to choose oysters. These tips work well for shopping at the local market or hunting for fresh oysters among rocks at one of the best places in the United States to find them, like Puget Sound. So go ahead and school yourself. The lifetime rewards of your newly gained knowledge is sure to pay off in fantastic oyster picking and delicious slurping.

How To Choose Oysters

Here are our recommendations on how to choose the best oysters:

1. Appearance:  Look for shells that can close tightly and are not chipped or cracked. When your finger touches the live oyster, the shell should respond by sealing itself shut entirely. On the inside of the oyster, you should notice a liquid referred to as “liquor”. If the inside is dry, the oyster should be thrown away.

2. Smell: Oysters should smell like fresh, crisp sea water and be briny. Good oysters should not have a fishy smell at all, and pre-shucked oysters should not smell like ammonia.

3. Touch: The oyster shells should be rough, and some might have barnacles. You should avoid oysters with algae, seaweed, or mossy patches, because these could have been kept in a tank with poor water circulation.

4. Storage: Fresh oysters should be kept on ice, in a well-drained, refrigerated case to maintain their freshness.  Do not store them in tap water. Tap water kills them and you want to keep them alive. In the United States, fish sellers are required by law to keep the delivery tags from the delivery of fresh seafood. Ask to see the tags because they give the date of shipment as well as delivery, so you’ll know how long the oysters were in transit, how long they were on display, and their source.

How To Choose Oysters

Where Can You Find Oysters?
Oysters live in the ocean. They can often be found around flats consisting of a mixture of sand and mud. They are typically found well below the high tide level and can be easy to spot on the surface. No digging is required. Just pick them up and measure them to see if they’re legal size. The saltier the water, the better. After all that’s what gives them their great metallic taste.

Oysters taste different depending on the location they are sourced from. Their variety is what helps to make them a delicacy.  In the United States, oysters can be found on the coasts of California, Washington, Alabama, Maine, New Jersey and others.

5 Steps: Pro Oyster Tasting Tips
1. See: Study the appearance of the oyster’s shell, color, and shape with your eyes.

2. Smell: Enjoy the aroma of the oyster which should be sweet and sea like, not fishy at all.

3. Sip: Sip the delicious oyster liquor.

4. Slurp: Work the oyster meat loose, hold the flat side of the oyster to your lips and slurp the oyster meat!

5. Savor: Chew a few times to enjoy the full body experience and deliciousness!

Oyster Nutrition Facts
Oysters are a highly nutritious shellfish that offer a wide array of health benefits. They’re packed with protein, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.

Ways To Prepare Oysters
Serve them cooked as meat on pasta dishes
Steam them and top with butter and lemon juice
Add them to seafood soups
Serve them cooked in their shell and topped with herbs
Coat whole oysters in bread crumbs and broil
Coat oyster halves in your favorite marinade and roast them on the grill

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Now that you know how to choose the best oysters, we hope you’ll share your oyster experiences with us!

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Sarah is known for her extra fancy yeast breads, melt in your mouth pies, and everything salads. She has won awards as a home cook, and is passionate about helping others feel smarter in the kitchen. Sarah is the cooking genius of the sister duo.

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