Oysters are plump, mineral rich, saltwater bivalve mollusks, with rough irregular shells, closed by a single adductor muscle. They belong to the family Ostreidae.
They live at the bottom of shallow coastal waters, often adhering to rocks or other objects, in the Pacific, Atlantic and Mediterranean waters.
They can also be farmed in bays and estuaries. Pearl Oysters, are farmed for pearls.
Pacific Oysters: Photo Courtesy of Peter Gugerell CC-BY-SA-3.0
What do Oysters taste like?
Depending on where they are harvested, their Flavour can range from bland to salty.
Oysters are sold live in the shell or shucked (removed from their shells). They can also be canned and sold, in jars and cans in supermarkets.
Nutritionally they are rich in protein, zinc and iron, and plenty of other minerals. They have almost no fat. A dozen regular sized oysters will have about 70 Calories.
How to Buy Oysters
The most important thing is to ensure that the shell is tightly shut and the oyster is still alive. If the shell is partly open, tap it. If the oyster is still alive it will close its shell.
A fresh oyster is plump and has a natural creamy grey colour and a clear liquid surrounding it. Fresh oysters smell nice and briny like the ocean. Avoid those with strong fishy smells.
How to Prepare and Serve Oyster
Before shucking oysters (removing them from their shells), wash and scrub the outer shell, then watch my favourite video below to, on how to shuck oysters.
Remember that oysters can be eaten raw or barely cooked. They can also be steamed, baked or grilled.
Raw oysters are served on the half shell, on ice.
Oysters make refreshing appetizers that can be topped with lemon juice and other sauces and paired with a glass of white wine or champagne. They are at their best in fall and winter.
Here is my favourite you tube video on “How to shuck oysters”
Important Points to Note
Clams and Oysters filter 55-75 litres of water per day and those that live in polluted waters can concentrate pathogens that can make you sick. They can also concentrate undesirable minerals.
Eating raw shellfish from contaminated waters can make you sick, so it’s important to buy oysters from reputable markets.
Storage of Oysters
Store up to one week in fridge in an open container covered with damp cloth, however they are best eaten fresh, as soon as possible.
Availability and Season
They are at their best in late fall and winter.
Types of Oysters
Oysters are found in the Pacific, Atlantic and Mediterranean waters. Oysters come in many varieties and many are farmed in cultivated oyster beds.
Eastern Oysters: produced in the Atlantic and include Lynnhavens, Bluepoints and Chinocoteagues. Eastern oysters, accounts for most of the American Oyster supply.
Pacific Oysters: are produced in western waters. Most pacific oysters are marketed and graded by size rather than name.
Olympia Oysters: tiny native western species, commercially harvested in Washington state.
myfavouritepastime.com Last Updated: 6th July, 2019