Eating raw oysters is one of the best seafood experiences. No other food conjures up a taste of the sea as much as an oyster. There are however quite a few differences among these shellfish depending on type and their location . Tastes can range from salty to floral, some have fruity hint, mineral flavours Even oysters from the same estuary can vary in flavour depending upon exactly where they are grown.
Ask in our shop and we can tell you more about the oysters we have on sale. For a comprehensive guide you can look at this chart about the different regional oysters in the UK.
Storing Your Oysters
Your oysters will come packed with the cupped shell on the underside in order to retain the oysters juices, this is how they should be stored. If they are not being consumed immediately, place them in a refrigerator either in the box they arrived in or another suitable container, cover with a damp cloth. UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES IMMERSE THEM IN WATER. They will keep for at least a week in a domestic refrigerator if these instructions are followed.
Fresh oysters should have tightly closed shells, any oysters which gap open and do not close when tapped should be discarded. Rinse the oyster under cold running water and scrub hinge with a stiff brush to remove any dirt.
Hints For Opening The Shells
Place the oyster on a firm surface, to protect your hands use a damp tea towel to hold the oyster, try to keep it level as you open to help retain the juices. If you do not have an oyster knife, use a stout kitchen knife with a strong blade, protect your hands!
Oysters can be kept up to three months in a domestic freezer. When thawing, place cupped shell on underside (as per opening instructions) to retain juices. Thawing will take two to three hours and the oysters should be consumed as soon a possible after thawing. Freezing kills the oyster and the shell will gape open when thawed, this makes opening easier.
To serve oysters “au natural”.
Open the oysters just before you plan to eat them. Serve them on a dish garnished with lemon wedges or to be really impressive, on a bed of crushed ice. Have Tabasco sauce or red wine vinegar mixed with chopped shallots on offer and plenty of brown bread and butter.
Heat the grill for 10 minuets. Open the oysters. Put a piece of crumpled foil in the base of the grill pan and lay the oysters in their half shells on top of the foil. Sprinkle with parsley mixed with bread crumbs. Dribble over a little olive oil and put under the grill for two minuets, no more. Alternately, dot with a little butter and some pureed shallots and flash under the grill for four minutes.
It is generally thought that the rock oyster is the better one for cooking with.
More oyster recipes here >> Bon appetit.
Some Q & A About Oysters
How do I know if an oyster is dead?
Oyster’s defensive mechanism is to keep their shells tightly closed, when the oyster dies or becomes very weak, the muscle which holds the two parts of the shell closed, relaxes and the shell gapes open. If the shell does not close when tapped, the is either dead or very weak and should be discarded.
Why must I not store oysters in water?
Oysters come from the sea, which has a higher salinity than tap water, also tap water contains additives such as chlorine and fluoride, this would dramatically alter the taste of the oyster and most likely kill it.
Why must oysters be stored with the cupped shell on the underside?
While out of water the oyster holds it’s shell tightly shut which retains water, every so often the oyster will relax it’s muscle allowing the shell to open slightly, it is trying to see if the tide has come back in! If the cupped shell is not on the underside the retained water will run out and the oyster will dry up and die.
Why are some Oysters only available from September to April?
The Native Oyster’s breading cycle occurs from May to August and is protected from being fished during this period by an ancient act of Parliament, also the condition of the oyster at this time is not ideal for consumption.