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Step 1:

You will need a good oyster knife or a sturdy blunt knife. Look for a thick, solid handle made of sturdy wood with a short, thick blade. Strength and durability are more important that the size or sharpness.

The person in this picture is holding the oyster with there bare hands - IT IS NOT RECOMMENDED DOING IT THIS WAY! Either purchase a heavy pair of gloves that are thick enough to resist sharp edges, but not so bulky that you can't move your fingers or drape a towel over your open palm and hold the oyster that way - the ridges of the shell are sharp!

You can buy a special glove, which is a sort of chainmail, but they are expensive. If you are opening oysters all the time then not a problem but for more casual use make do with a teacloth folded a couple of times.

Purchase fresh oysters from a reputable seafood dealer. Using a stiff brush scrub the oyster under running water, this will clean away any sediment or seaweed on the shell. Hold the oyster firmly in one hand, knife in the other. Insert the knife blade into the seam between the top and bottom shell right by the hinge on back. Use the point to do this then gently by firmly rock the knife back and forth.

Step 2:

Once the knife has been inserted, twist the blade to open the hinge a little more. Repeat this process until you have cut the hinge completely. This sounds easy until you're actually doing it! Some oysters just don't take kindly to people sticking knives in their shell. Put a little muscle into it being careful not to cut or stab yourself. This is when your likely to do that!

Step 3:

Slide the oyster knife along the inside edge between the shell and the meat. While doing this be careful to keep the oyster level so the liquid inside does not spill out. Using a twisting motion, pry the top and bottom shells apart.

Step 4:

There is one muscle that looks like a thick cord, this muscle is what holds the shell together. It runs from the oyster to the inside shell. Cut this with a knife. You can either go to the trouble of setting down your blade and using a little fork to pick the oyster out, or you can do like the natives do and just scoop him with your knife and pop him in your mouth. Drink the liquor right out of the shell!


  • If you're having them fried or broiled, cocktail sauce. If you're eating them raw, not a darn thing or maybe some lemon wedges.


  • Oysters are available seasonally. The rule that generally holds is that any month (in the English language) that contains the letter R is a good month for oysters.

  • Shellfish prefer cold water. More importantly, warmer waters mean an increase in bacteria levels and then they can be dangerous to eat.

  • Fresh oysters should be closed tight, and kept either in fresh bay water or on a bed of ice. Never select shellfish that are open!

This article was from Chesapeake Bay Cooking which specialised in shellfish and seafood recipes as well as the famous Maryland Stuffed Ham recipes. (The web site no longer exists)