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How to Eat Oysters at Home

by Louise W. Rice

The perfect holiday dinner palate cleanser, an aphrodisiac suited for Valentine’s Day, and a summertime beachside favorite, oysters on the half shell are fabulous celebration food. Advancements in technology make eating raw oysters at-home safe year-round. Enjoy a shucking good time at home!

Oyster Types

When choosing oysters for your at-home feast, consider a variety of bivalves. Eating oysters at home is most fun when you can try different types and keep track of the ones you like. Five common types of oysters exist Pemaquid, Kumamoto, Blue Point, Coromandel, and Malpeque. Similar to the way that wine vintners focus on environmental factors such as sunshine, rainfall, and soil to make wine, oyster harvesters cultivate oyster growing conditions to achieve a certain texture, taste, and saltiness of the meat.

Significant and noticeable differences exist between the flavor profiles, sizes, and textures of the different oyster types that depend primarily on water minerals and salinity, soil type, rainfall, and algae. East Coast oysters can be identified by their flat, large, round shells and briny flavor, whereas West Coast oysters generally are sweeter and creamier mollusks with smaller, jagged shells.

Shuck It

Notoriously difficult but a surprisingly easy task with a little bit of practice, shucking oysters should not prevent you from feasting on oysters at home. The process only requires a shucking knife, an oyster glove or a small towel, and your own two hands. Refer to this video, step-by-step, illustrated Learn To Shuck Guide for clear instructions on how to safely prepare oysters on the half shell at home. If you would rather skip shucking, you may ask your local fishmonger to do it for you. Make space in the refrigerator, and be ready to serve the oysters within two hours.

Holding Vessels

A hack is to use a kids’ snow cone machine to make crushed ice to keep the oysters cool when serving. Many different types of vessels can be used as a bed for oysters: oyster plates, a large serving tray, or a cheeseboard. You may be creative and utilize serving vessels in your home that you already have. The presentation truly will offer a feast for the eyes. For an extraordinary dining experience, Weston Table has an extensive collection of oyster plates and oyster forks from around the world, including vintage and antique options.

Oyster Sauces

While oysters may be eaten straight from the sea, making a mignonette or relish to accompany your oysters elevates the dish. Mignonettes are simple sauces with shallots, vinegar, and seasoning. A sweeter option, relish includes shallots, citrus juice, ginger, and honey.

The acidity of the mignonette and the relish balance the salty flavor profile of the oysters. Heavier accompaniments, cocktail sauce, and horseradish sauce also provide delightful pairings that add tanginess and a creamier texture to your dish. We recommend preparing a variety of sauces in advance and serving them alongside your bed of oysters.

Drink Pairings

Pop open a bottle of bubbly! Any sparkling wine (does not need to be expensive) may be slurped along with oysters. A crisp, dry white wine also complements the oysters without overpowering the delicate and light flavor of the oysters.

Ninety Plus Cellars privately labels the world’s best wines, offers affordable options for those who imbibe, and delivers nationwide. Enjoying oysters with beer is equally delicious. As Jimmy Buffett reviewed, “Give me oysters and beer for dinner every day of the year, and I’ll be fine.”

Purchasing Oysters

Did you know that oysters are natural filter feeders? Oyster farms everywhere help fight climate change by cleaning up our shores and keeping water clean for other aquatic life. Learn about the lifecycle of oysters and support the operations of oyster farms across the country by taking a farm tour.

Island Creek Oysters in Duxbury, Massachusetts, offers opportunities for 2-hour private tours during the summer months. After visiting the hatchery and nursery, board a boat for a ride through Duxbury Bay and learn to shuck, enjoy oysters and bubbly, and sip in the sunshine. Can’t visit? A number of top-tier oyster farms, including Island Creek Oysters, Hama Hama Oysters, and The Maine Oyster Company, deliver oysters overnight so you may enjoy fresh, tide-to-table oysters harvested daily from the comfort of your home.

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