Once oysters are removed from their shell they can be served raw, baked, steamed, grilled or in specialty dishes. Oysters don’t take long to cook and a low heat or fast high heat (broiling or frying) is preferable. They will toughen up if cooked too long. If you are cooking or using oysters in a recipe, and don’t want to shuck them open, steam them just until they open and scrape them out of the shell. When cooked their shells pop open; discard those that do not open after cooking.
Preparing & Handling
- Store oysters at 33-40 degrees damp cold. Oysters can be kept in a bowl draped with a damp towel, but they should be arranged carefully so they lie flat; otherwise their briny liquid may drain out. Stored properly they should remain alive for 5 to 7 days, but freshness deteriorates with each day
- Oysters still in the shell are best eaten soon after they arrive.
- An oyster that doesn’t close when you press on its shell is dead and must be discarded.
- Shucked oysters and their juices should be wrapped airtight and can be stored under refrigeration for 4 to 5 days or frozen for up to 2 months.
Important: Do not store oysters where they could freeze, or where temperatures will fluctuate widely or reach over 40 F. Do not store oysters submerged in melted ice water or other standing water. Do not store oysters in a sealed plastic bag or other airtight container.
Tip: If you a serving oysters or clams on the shell raw, they are easier to open if you place them in the freezer for about 5-10 minutes before opening them.
How To Shuck An Oyster (Side Bar)
- Wash each oyster thoroughly using fresh cold water and a kitchen brush.
- Especially scrub at the narrow hinge where sediments are often trapped.
- Hold the oyster with the cup side down and level, with a thick glove, oven mitt or towel.
- Insert an oyster knife (a flathead screwdriver may also be used) into the pointed end of the oyster, at the hinge, and carefully work the tip back and forth until it penetrates the shell.
- Twist the knife to pop the shell open, being careful not to cut into the meat. Then slide the knife along the top shell to cut the muscle, remove the top shell and run the knife under the oyster to sever the bottom muscle.
- Oyster should now be completely detached and sitting in the deep cupped half of the shell, ready to be eaten raw or prepared for cooking.