Picking the best oysters (and when to do it)

There are two schools of thought when it comes to oysters: Eat ‘em raw, or steam (or smoke) ‘em up right. We find more flavor in the steamed variety, and, as members of FIREDISC® Nation, we believe food is to be savored. Oysters are no exception.

Bite them, relish the flavor, share them with loved ones, that’s what we say.

Fully cooked is best, and we’ll give you tips here for how (and when) to pick your oysters. It’s an art, and you’ll wind up with the best dining experience with a little legwork. Before you scrub them up and steam them good, here’s what to do.

  1. Check the calendar

This is important and has been part of oyster-eating for thousands of years. Harvest wild oysters in months that contain the letter R, September to April (Plus January.) That leaves summer, spawning months. 

Oysters harvested then are subject to be watery, ill-tasting, and possibly illness-inducing.

  1. Be legal

State and other legislating bodies can set harvesting seasons. Check with departments of natural resources and fish and wildlife agencies for those. Factors can include:

  • Number of tides
  • Condition of beaches and seawater
  • Number of harvesters expected
  • Average harvest size
  1. Hit the oyster reef

Oysters are found in clusters. Look for some about 3 inches wide, normally the legal limit (a small ruler or shellfish gauge is helpful). While wearing neoprene gloves, break clusters apart with a screwdriver. This frees smaller ones to grow into a better size for future harvests. Collect keepers in a bucket or wire basket with a flotation device around it.

PRO TIP: Search in flats with sand and mud. You’ll find them below the high-tide line and they’ll be easy to see.

  1. Check the shells

Good oysters are intact, with no cracks, fully sealed. Avoid those with chips or broken bits. An oyster has a flat and a cup side. A deeper cup means a meatier oyster. 

Hold it up to your ear and knock on it. A hollow sound indicates dehydration in the shell. Pass on these oysters, too. 

  1. Don’t wait too long

Oysters can live in the fridge for as long as three weeks. If shells are open, tap on them lightly and they should close if the oyster is still alive. Dead ones are inedible.

What you need is … a FIREDISC® bundle

A FIREDISC® bundle gives you one stellar cooker and just the right accessories you need. For the oyster cloister, the Ultimate Steaming Bundle supports your culinary lifestyle best. You get:

Check out the bundle, and get steaming today.