How to Shuck an Oyster? Enjoy Oysters Without Injury

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It’s almost oyster season — the time of year a good many Americans anticipate all year. Oysters, of course, are a bit pricey, and the environmental issues along the Gulf Coast (too much salt, too much heat and a pesky parasite called Perkinsus) will make the price go up even more.

You can save money and still enjoy these slippery devils by eating them at home instead of at a restaurant. But you’ll loose that one main benefit of restaurant oysters. They take the risk of shucking so you can just slurp them down with a little horseradish and lemon. But you can safely shuck oysters at home if you just follow a few simple steps.

Shucking Oysters Safely

What you’ll need:

  • Clean, dry kitchen towel.
  • Clean, damp kitchen towel or cutting glove.
  • Oyster knife.
  • Flat dish or large, stable lid.
  • Ice.


  1. Fill a large flat dish or a lid that can remain stable while it’s upside-down with ice. This not only keeps the oysters cold until you’re ready to eat, it keeps them level so the meat and natural juices don’t slip out until it’s in front of your mouth.
  2. Scrub each oyster with a stiff wire brush or scrubber under cold running water to remove any dirt or mud from the shell, which you’ll be eating from later. Cover the oysters with a damp kitchen towel until you’re ready to eat.
  3. Place the oyster cup-side down on a clean, stable surface on top of a dry towel with the pointy (hinged) side facing you.
  4. Hold it securely with your gloved hand or fold an edge of the dry towel over it to protect yourself (if the knife slips, it will slip into the towel). Keep your hand perpendicular to the knife. It may seem more dangerous that way, but it provides better hold — making you less likely to slip.
  5. Squeeze the tip of the oyster knife into the pointed hinge carefully but firmly with the blade angled down into the cup.
  6. When you feel the knife slide in, twist it as if you’re turning a doorknob or car key. You’ll hear the hinge pop when it’s open.
  7. Just on the inside of the oyster, there’s a tough fleshy band (the adductor muscle) that holds the shell together. Scrape the blade across the top shell while gently prying it open to detach the muscle from the top of the shell. Discard the top shell.
  8. Scrape the knife gently underneath the oyster on the bottom shell to detach it, but leave the oyster in the cup to serve it.
  9. Remove any pieces of sand or shell from inside the oyster and place it gently on top of the ice.
  10. Serve immediately with horseradish, lemon wedges, black pepper, hot pepper sauce or mignonette sauce.

Take a look at: How to Clean and Fillet a Fish? It’s a dirty job, but…

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