Shucking

Shucking an oyster requires a bit of practice and patience but it’s liberating, will save you money,  and impress your guests!  Keep in mind that oyster shucking accidents can happen.  You are going to be taking a knife in one hand, directing it towards your other palm, and shoving, so the right equipment is crucial.

We recommend a New Haven design oyster knife that has a shorter blade, contoured handle, and curved tip for extra leverage.  A good pair of gloves protects your hands really well but can be a bit bulky when prepping the oyster for presentation. Still, it is our preferred armor over a towel which doesn’t provide full hand protection. Your Ruby Salts have already been thoroughly cleaned so no additional scrubbing is necessary.

  1. To open the oyster, insert the knife point into the “hinge” at the back of the shell until a small gap is felt. You may need to pump the knife up and down to work it into the gap.  Rotate your wrist in a slight rocking motion to try and wedge your way in.  The biggest mistake is forcing the knife in.  Try a few spots, pressing slightly, until you feel or see the knife make a little progress.
  2. You only need to be in about ¼” before you can pry the shells apart by fully rotating the knife blade.
  3. If the knife has mud or shell fragments on it, wipe it off, then re-insert the knife at the hinge, keeping it tight against the inside of the top shell, sweep it toward you to cut the top muscle. Your goal is to not cut the oyster meat.  You’ll feel the resistance of the muscle and the pop when it’s cut, then you can easily lift off the top shell.
  4. You should be looking at a perfect, clean oyster sitting in its cup.  Remove any shell fragments by flicking them away with the tip of your clean knife.
  5. The last step is to cut the bottom, adductor muscle so the oyster can be slurped in one quick motion.  Re-insert your knife, under the oyster along the inside curve where the shell rises, stick tight against the shell and cut the muscle in one small motion.

If you’re really lucky, you might find a tiny soft shell oyster crab coexisting quite naturally with the oyster.  It is an uncommon delicacy and can be enjoyed with a quick fry in butter.

Another shucking method is the microwave.  A few seconds per oyster will leave them gaping, warm and ready to eat.  To avoid cooking them you can freeze them just until they start to gap but you run the risk of forgetting about them and making oyster ice cubes.