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Cooking Tips

Follow These Four Steps to Successfully (and Safely) Shuck Any Oyster

Don’t let fear of shucking keep you from enjoying oysters on the half shell at home.

Published Sept. 28, 2021.

You could wait for a night out to enjoy the briny pleasure of raw oysters, but preparing them yourself at home is easier than you might think. They’re increasingly available online directly from farmers, and they tolerate shipping exceptionally well because they can survive out of water for days as long as they’re kept fridge-cold. And if you have an oyster knife—an inexpensive, thick, dull blade that functions as a lever to pry the shells apart without cutting into them—you can shuck them yourself for a fraction of restaurant prices. (Here are our recommendations for oyster knives.) 

The following four-step method makes it simple to shuck raw oysters, and roasting them first, as we do in our recipe for Roasted Oysters on the Half Shell with Mustard Butter, makes shucking even easier.

1. Fold dish towel several times into thin, tight roll. Grip towel in fist of hand that will be holding oyster, wrapping 1 end over your thumb and tucking it between your thumb and forefinger.

2. Using your towel-protected thumb, hold oyster in place with hinge facing away from thumb. Insert tip of oyster knife into hinge of oyster.

3. Work tip of knife into hinge using twisting motion. When shells begin to separate, twist knife to pop hinge.

4. Run knife along top shell, scraping abductor muscle from shell to release oyster. Slide knife under oyster to scrape abductor muscle from bottom shell.

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