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How to Open Oysters

Updated on February 22, 2013

Cleaning and Inspection

Before shucking oysters, they should be cleaned with a brush and rinsed well to remove excess grit from the shell exterior. Oysters should be kept cool during the entire process.

Before and during shucking, each oyster should be inspected for quality. Always cull any oysters that have shell damage, discolored meat, strong odors, or other questionable characteristics. Live oysters may open slightly at rest but should close tightly when tapped.

Oyster Opening Techniques

Several methods can be used to open oysters. Popular techniques include opening from the hinge, opening from the lip, shell cracking, freezing, steaming, and roasting.

How To Shuck Oysters - Working from the Hinge

The hinge method is the most popular way to open oysters. When using this technique, the oyster knife is inserted at the hinge. The oyster is opened by either twisting the knife or tapping it onto a table.

How To Shuck Oysters - Working from the Lip

An alternative method for opening oysters involves prying the shell open along the outer lip. Some cooks strike the edge of the oyster, breaking off just enough shell to allow a knife to be inserted. When shucking oysters via the outer lip, a thin blade oyster knife works best. A major disadvantage of this technique is the possibility of shell fragments getting on the shucked oyster.

Oyster Shucking Poll

Have you tried shucking your own oysters?

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Seafood Safety

Like all seafood, oysters must be handled properly in order to minimize health risks. Seafood safety information is available from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), state fish and game agencies, and other sources.


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    • LisaMarie724 profile image

      Lisa Stover 5 years ago from Pittsburgh PA

      Very informative hub, I've never attempted to cook them at home but maybe now I can try.