How to Choose The Best Oysters — What to Look For and Avoid


Oysters are a type of shellfish that can be eaten raw or cooked. Oysters can differ in size, shell color and shape. Picking good fresh oysters might be difficult for someone who has never tried them before. You must eat only fresh oysters to avoid food poisoning and feeling sick. Let’s find out how to choose the best oysters and what are some things to look for and avoid while buying them.

How to choose good oysters? What does a healthy oyster look like? Good, fresh oysters must be closed and slightly damp. When choosing oysters, pay attention to the oyster’s weight. It should feel heavy as the water inside the shell is a sign of good quality oyster. Pick up two oysters and hit one against the other. If the sound produced is dull, the oyster is fresh. 

Ultimate Guide on Choosing the Best Oysters — What to Look for and Avoid When Selecting Oysters

When shopping for packaged oysters in supermarkets, look for an identification mark with information about the type, origin and date of packaging. The package or container must indicate the dates of the catch of the shellfish, the expiration date, origin and the specific type of oyster. If there is no packaging, do not buy these oysters. Remember that oysters should be kept on ice or in a special aquarium.

How do you tell if an oyster is good or bad? To tell if the oyster is good or bad, take two oysters and hit one against the other. If the sound produced is dull and hard, then the oyster is good. Also, a good oyster should be slightly damp, smell like fresh seawater, and the shell must be closed. Choose only heavy oysters with water inside.

Pay attention to the shell itself — it must be intact, tightly closed, without cracks or damage. This suggests that the oyster is healthy and can be eaten. Sniff the oyster — if it smells like fresh seawater and little algae, you can buy it.

Before, it was thought that you should buy oysters from September to April. Today oysters are grown on special marine farms so as not to harm their natural population and to ensure year-round supply to the market and gastronomic establishments.

You should also pay attention to the weight of the oyster by placing the shell in your palm. If it feels heavy, then water has accumulated inside the shell, which is a sign of the quality of the oyster. When you get home, check if oysters are alive. To do this, just open one of the oysters, drip lemon juice and press on it with a knife. If the oyster moves, then it is alive.

Typically, oysters are sold in half a dozen and a dozen, but now they can even be purchased by the piece. However, oysters can be a strong allergen.

How to Pick the Best Oysters With Marco Pinchot Video Guide

What are the best months to buy oysters? True gourmets know that the best months to buy oysters are from September to April. It is in autumn that the oyster season opens, which will last from September to April. Experts say that the freshest and juiciest oysters can be enjoyed in the months containing the letter “r”!

What Does a Healthy Oyster Look Like?

How can you tell if oysters are good?

  • A healthy oyster shell must be closed.
  • A healthy oyster must be slightly damp.
  • A healthy oyster is always transparent.
  • If you hit two oysters against one another, the sound should remind the sound of hitting stones against one another.
  • Healthy oysters can be sold alive, packed in special bags, or in small containers, where the shellfish are placed in a blanket of algae.
  • If oysters are bought without shells, pay attention to their size and packing method (shellfish should be the same size, and they are placed in special jars with liquid marinades).
  • Healthy oysters might have sand on the shell.

It is believed that the smaller the oyster, the tastier it is. However, standard oyster sizes can be 5 to 15 cm in length.

What Does a Bad Oyster Look Like?

How can you tell if oysters are bad?

  • A bad oyster will have the shell open. Touch the edge of the shell. If it closes, the oyster is alive and can be eaten. If it remains open, the oyster is dead and must be thrown away.
  • A bad oyster is not placed on ice or in an aquarium.
  • A bad oyster’s body is cloudy and white.

Sometimes it is quite difficult to determine if an oyster is alive with the shell closed. The most effective way to check the freshness of the seafood is to open it. You should hear a characteristic click, and the oyster must react to a knife or lemon juice. When choosing an oyster, the main thing is to pay attention to its freshness. The shells of the molluscs should be closed tightly to each other, without gaps.

The most valuable thing about an oyster is the place where it grew. If this is the Atlantic, the oyster will be of the highest class both in taste and nutritional value. But if you keep such an oyster in saltwater, it will not lose its saltiness, but it will wash out all the taste of the region where it grew. Therefore, the most delicious oyster is the oyster taken from the water and brought without being placed in the aquarium.

There are many types of oysters. In wildlife, they live along the shores of the Atlantic and the Mediterranean, but now there are fewer “wild” oysters. The most popular oysters come from France — Normandy, Brittany and Maren d’Oleron. Especially large ones are caught in Japan and the Far East. The weight of Japanese giants can reach 1.5 kg. But oysters are also distinguished by their shape — flat and sunken (concave). For their classification, special numbering is used. Oysters also differ in taste — some are more iodine, others are saltier, and in the tenderness of the flesh.

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