How to Shuck Oysters


There are many ways to eat oysters and they’re all delicious but true oyster lovers like them raw and for this, you should learn how to shuck oysters. The main reason for this is to have them fresh, live and authentic. It may look hard on TV when you see those chefs and experts just skillfully doing it, but in truth, oysters are more cooperative than you might think. The trick is to keep them cold and don’t choke them in plastic.

We will look at how to shuck oysters with step by step instructions in a bit, along with the tools that you would need. For those who like their oysters cooked, here is a guide on how to smoke oysters and if you’ll be using a smoker, this is how to use an electric smoker.

Raw Oysters and Their Aphrodisiac Effect

Since we’re on the topic of eating raw oysters, it will be interesting to know why they say it’s an aphrodisiac and what other facts are associated with that.

If you haven’t heard of the tale, there is a man lover called Casannova in the 18th century who is known for his numerous affairs, and they say he eats 50 oysters for breakfast. There have been studies that show that oysters really are aphrodisiacs. A team of Italian and American researchers analyzed some mollusks which include oysters and found that they were rich with unusual amino acids. These were found to trigger increased levels of sex hormones.

The bivalves contain zinc which they proved to be an essential nutrient in producing testosterone and spermatogenesis. The amino acids that they contain, along with serotonin aid in the neural pathway of a person’s response to pleasure. But of course, there are many other things that influence desire such as your overall physical and mental well-being. Food and exercise greatly affect this and there could also be possible placebo effects. Part of why oysters have a reputation as aphrodisiacs is simply in the sensuality of the eating experience.

Types of Oysters

Now that we know a few fun facts about oysters, let us get to know some of the different types and how this makes a difference in how to shuck oysters. Some are more difficult to shuck than others.

  • Pacific Oysters

    These are also known as Crassostrea gigas and are small and sweet. This is one of the most cultivated oysters and is very popular in Europe and the West Coast. There are many other types of oysters that can also be described as pacific oysters including Kumamotos and Miyagis. They have a distinct fluted appearance and sharply pointed shells than atlantic ones.

  • Kumamoto Oysters

    Though classified as pacific oysters, kumamotos do have their own species. These are almost nutty oysters and have deep bowl-shaped shells. They’re also deeply fluted and have pointy shells. They spawn in warmer weather and remain firm and sweet even during the summer. Japan is known to cultivate them widely.

  • Atlantic Oysters

    These are 85% of oysters that are harvested in the United States. These include bluepoints, wellfleets, malpeques, and beausoleils. You might be surprised that there is a slight difference in how to shuck oysters depending on the type.

  • European Flats

    They are often called Belons. It was the most common oyster in Europe though Europeans appreciate pacific oysters as much. These types of oysters have smooth flat shells and their taste has a tinge of lovely seaweed and sharp mineral. Their texture is meaty and has a bit of crunch.

How to Shuck Oysters

So you now know more about oysters than probably most of the people you know. How do you actually shuck them?

  • Preparations

    You might not expect it but just like in other food preparations, how to shuck oysters do come with some hazards and you must make sure that you’re doing it safely.

    Before any precautions, make sure that you choose fresh oysters. They should be alive when you shuck them. It’s not safe to eat expired oysters. Keep them nice and cold in a bowl of ice water.

    Next, prepare your workspace and put a clean towel to brace your oyster and protect your hand from the knife.

  • Tools

    Keep the following supplies handy when you learn how to shuck oysters. Put a trash can near you for the things you need to discard. You will also need a stiff bristled brush, gloves, an oyster knife or any knife with a heavy blade.

  • Cleaning

    Put on your gloves and scrub the oysters clean with the brush. This will remove the ocean grit. And then rinse them in cool running water. This is an important note to sanitary eating when learning how to shuck oysters.

  • Insert the Knife Between the Shells

    Using the gloves or towel on your other hand to hold the oyster, hold it with the flatter side up. Look for the hinge and insert the knife between the shells near the hinge.

  • Pop the Hinge

    Get the knife into the hinge and pop it by twisting the blade. Other oysters are more stubborn and you will have to exert more effort in twisting and finding the right angle.

  • Slide Between the Shells

    At this point of how to shuck oysters, when the hinge is open, slide your knife between the shells. Keep it below the top shell and don’t mangle. You will feel some resistance on the top shell so you have to cut through.

  • Open Up

    Now you’ve separated the shells at this part of how to shuck oysters. Remove its top shell and cut the meat attached to it with the knife. You can also cut along the bottom shell to free the oyster so that it’s easier to eat.

  • Serve

    Serve the oysters right after shucking them and keep them cold. You can serve them plain or with some squirt of lemon. Others prefer cocktail sauce or vinegar. That depends on your taste.

You must remember as you master how to shuck oysters, to keep as much of the liquid or the oyster juice or liquor in the shell. This is what makes it delicious.