Oysters are a natural aphrodisiac, that is an open secret for oyster lovers. If you have been to a seafood buffet before and have eaten oysters, then I am sure you know this little secret about them. But there’s so much more about oysters that we wish to share in this blog.
So here are a few things to remember before your next oyster snack:
Properly cook your oyster before you eat
Always ensure that your oyster is fully cooked before you consume it. If you do not know how to tell whether an oyster is cooked or not, wait until the restaurant gives you a piece of pumpernickel bread, as the acidity in the bread will kill any bacteria on the raw oyster.
Does your restaurant have an appropriate license?
Ensure that your seafood restaurant has an appropriate certificate or permit for selling and serving shellfish. This is because if the oysters are served undercooked, there can be viruses and bacteria which survive cooking.
Individuals who have immune system problems, pregnant women, infants, and young children are all advised to stay away from raw oysters. In addition, do not attempt to eat an oyster that has an air pocket inside it as this is a sign of spoilage. If you are cooking any seafood at home, it is important to ensure that the temperature of the water is suitable to cook it in; anything below 60 degrees Celsius (140 F) may allow bacteria to survive and multiply.
How is your oyster cooked?
Ensure that your oysters are cooked using a reliable method, as this will kill any existing bacteria, including those on the shell. The most appropriate methods for cooking raw oysters include steaming, grilling, or poaching the oysters. Boiling, frying, and microwaving are inappropriate methods of cooking oysters as this will not kill all bacteria which may be present.
Get freshly shucked oysters
Always purchase freshly shucked oysters from a respectable restaurant if possible, as these will have been cooked within hours of being opened. Pre-shucked, frozen oysters can be stored for several months without losing quality. However, if you are buying frozen oysters, make sure that they have been frozen using the “cold” method to kill off any bacteria present and ensure their safe consumption.
Raw oysters have an expiry date
Believe it or not but even raw oysters will expire! It is important to check that your oysters are not out-of-date. The shelf life of a raw oyster is typically around one week, after which it may begin to spoil or develop an unpleasant smell and taste.
Don’t let a cut stop you
Cut the tip off your finger? Wash and disinfect the wound for 20 seconds with warm water that is at least 45 degrees Celsius (113 F). Then pop on a glove, and pick that raw oyster like nothing ever happened.
Beware, raw seafood can be dangerous
Beware of any raw seafood or shellfish that has not been prepared for consumption properly. If you are purchasing shucked oysters, make sure there is no blood present in the shucks, and if it is wholly cooked then ensure there is no color change or discoloration around the edges of the meat.
Know where your oyster came from
When you are buying oysters from any reputable seafood establishment, they should be able to tell you exactly where the oysters came from. It is important to select only fresh, well-dried, and live oysters as these will hold their flavor best throughout storage and transport.
Ensure your oysters are clean
Before you begin eating your oysters, it is best to ensure that they are clean and free from any discoloration or debris. You can either use your hands to shuck the oyster or alternatively, a special tool called an “Oyster Knife”.
Finally, enjoy! Remember to keep all seafood refrigerated until just before cooking it as this will ensure that it remains fresh and safe to eat.