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How to Shuck Oysters

We explain how to shuck, and then serve raw and cooked oysters...

The perfectly shucked oyster

The oyster can be described as a 'slow food product', as oysters can take from 24 to 60 months to reach market size. Given the time taken to reach market size, take a little extra time and care, and try to achieve the perfectly shucked oyster...

The oyster meat should be cleanly cut; and surrounded by the oyster's liquor (filtered seawater) in the cupped shell. Expertly shucked oysters, served immediately. Perfect!

The first rule

The first and most important rule is: Always buy fresh oysters from a reputable source.

At Simply Oysters, we offer the UK's widest selection of fresh oysters. All of our oysters are packed fresh to order by our oyster farms and fisheries, for next day delivery to our clients' addresses in mainland UK. These are the freshest and finest oysters possible; with full traceability from the oyster beds to our clients' addresses.

Oysters can be unpredictable

Oysters come in different shapes and sizes, and their shells can be rough or smooth, hard or brittle, jagged or pointed. The tip and blade of the oyster knife can be sharp. The oyster shells can be sharp when whole, and much sharper if broken.

Oysters can be unpredictable to shuck. Professional oyster shuckers can always tell a story about the mishap that occurred when they shucked 'that' oyster!

The right tools

Firstly, invest in a specialist oyster knife, and a quality chainmail glove to protect the hand that holds the oyster.

We trust, use and recommend:

Wusthof Oyster Knife 4284 

Honeywell Chainex 2000 Chainmail Oyster Glove 

How to shuck oysters

Step 1

Check that the oysters are closed and unbroken. Oysters can open slightly while in transit or stored in the fridge (this is normal). If any oyster has opened, simply tap the oyster firmly on the bench and it should close. If the oyster closes when tapped, it means the oyster is fresh and fine to consume. Discard any oyster that does not close when tapped, or has a broken or cracked shell.

Step 2

If you haven't already done so (upon receipt of the box of oysters), clean the oyster shells with a stiff brush under cold running water.

Step 3

Insert the tip of the knife at the 'hinge' (at the back of the oyster) between the shells. Don't push too hard, as the tip of the knife can slip away from the hinge. Instead, 'wiggle' or 'twist' the handle of the knife so that the tip of the knife works it's way between the shells to a depth of about 5cm. Continue to wiggle the tip of the knife, until the shells 'pop' open (usually an audible 'pop' sound).

To keep the knife clean as you work, wipe the tip and blade of the knife on a clean damp cloth.

Occasionally when when inserting the tip of the knife into the hinge of the oyster, a small speck of mud or a few fine grains of sand may be pushed into the oyster. Use the tip and blade of the oyster knife to clean off mud or sand from the oyster meat.

Step 4

Once the shells 'pop' open, slide the blade of the knife underneath the flat shell (top shell), and use a 'circular' motion to cut the abductor mussel that attaches the oyster meat to the the flat shell. Try to achieve a clean and precise cut, and take care to keep the oyster meat in tact. Then remove the flat shell.

Step 5

Slide the blade of the knife underneath oyster meat at the bottom of the cupped shell (bottom shell), and use a 'circular' motion to cut the abductor mussel that attaches the oyster meat to the the cupped shell. Try to achieve a clean and precise cut, and take care to keep the oyster meat in tact.

Optional: Use the blade of the oyster knife to 'flip' the oyster meat over for presentation.

Important: Retain the oysters' liquor within the half shell. Do not spill or pour the oysters' liquor out, as this is vital to the overall taste of the oyster.

Top Tip: Take a look at videos on how to shuck oysters on the Internet at YouTube. 

Serve shucked oysters

The freshest and tastiest oyster is the oyster that's just been shucked. Once shucked, serve oysters immediately...

Place freshly shucked raw oysters in their half shells on the Simply Oysters Oyster Tray 6 or 12, or on a tray or dish covered with ice. Serve raw oysters with accompaniments such as, wedges of lemon or lime, or Tabasco Red Pepper Sauce.

For cooked, oysters, place the raw oysters in their half shells on the Simply Oysters' Oyster Tray 6 or 12 to keep the oyster shells stable and level. Once the oysters are placed on the tray, add any accompaniments, and place the tray in the oven to cook. Once the oysters are cooked, remove the tray from the oven and serve, or transfer the cooked oysters to another tray or dish and serve.

*If you don't have a Simply Oysters' Oyster Tray to keep the oysters wobble free; then place the raw oysters on a flat metal tray and try to position the oysters' cupped shells so that they don't wobble about or tip over and spill the oyster liquor or accompaniments out.

See Simply Oysters' Oyster Tray 12 or Oyster Tray 6

See All Oysters