Techniques for Shucking Oysters

What You'll Need
Fresh oysters
Hard-bristled brushes
Dry towel
Shucking gloves
Plastic bowl
Shucking knife

Shucking oysters refers to the process of separating the oyster shells. Though it may sound undemanding, shucking oysters can be rather difficult. Furthermore, the wrong technique can lead to serious injuries since using a sharp knife during shucking is unavoidable.

Step 1—Getting Started: Taking Precautions & Arranging Shucking Tools

Oyster shells are very hard and consist of sharp edges that can easily cut through the skin. Thus, shucking oysters without undertaking proper precautions is inadvisable. Ideally, you should wear thick gloves that help to grip the oysters and protect the hands. The other option is to use a towel for gripping the oysters. It is better to open the oysters over a large bowl so that the juices inside the oyster aren’t spilled. This is likely since the shell is opened with a jerk. Using a shucking knife or oyster knife is recommended, but if it is not available, any knife with a strong handle can be used. However, small knives aren’t useful since they cannot bear the force that is needed to shuck oysters.

Step 2—Cleaning Oysters & Preparing for Shucking

You need to prepare the oysters for shucking. Oysters should be chilled at the time of shucking, as colder shells are easier to open. Furthermore, cold temperatures ensure that oysters are alive at time of shucking. The chilled oysters need to be cleaned before shucking. This is best done with ice-cold water. You can also use a hard-bristled brush for cleaning oysters. This helps to remove the grime and grit that covers oyster shells. Determine the back and front side of the oyster. The back surface is represented by the shell with a pronounced curvature. The front-end is more rounded in shape.

Step 3—Opening Oyster Shell with Knife

Use the towel to grip the oyster in one hand. Hold the knife in the other hand. Ensure that the hinged side is accessible. Thus, the curved or back side should be facing downwards. Insert the pointed tip of the knife within the minute crevice visible along the hinge. The knife cannot penetrate the hinge much at this time. You need some serious effort to push the knife inwards. Repeat this process along a substantial part of the exposed hinge. Now, insert the knife’s tip at the widest-looking crevice of the hinge and try to twist the knife. The knife acts like a prying tool here, separating the two oyster shells.

Step 4—Cutting Along Oyster Shell

The shells still cannot be separated completely. You need to cut the oyster, which has a strong, internal bonding with the shell. Using the same knife, slice repeatedly along the cracked hinge, pushing the knife deeper for a more comprehensive slicing action. After cutting the oyster along the shell, remove top shell. Drain-away the liquid inside the shell by pouring it into the bowl. Use a spoon to scoop out the remaining oyster meat from the shell. The last bits of meat stuck to the shell can be scraped-out with a knife.