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Jan 5, 2006 07:05 PM

Is there an easy way to shuck oysters?

  • r

I gave up on oysters because of the struggle to get at them. There must be an easy way to open them ... what is it?

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  1. I just get them really really cold (put them in the freezer for a bit), put them deep side down on a thick pot holder or towel, flat side up, and use a sharp flat screwdriver to pop them open near the hinge. If I did it more often I would get an oyster knife but oysters are not native to Indiana and you don't see them in the shell that often.

    1. In my experience, NO.

      I would strongly recommend that you head to a restaurant supply store and buy an oyster knife and a protective glove.

      The most serious injury I ever received in a kitchen came while shucking oysters along the Chesapeake. I was NOT wearing a glove and the knife hit the bone in my finger leading to a dozen stitches. Expensive oysters they were.

      1. Yes, there is an easier way. First, get yourself an old timey can opener with the sharp tri-pointed end that was used to pierce open juice cans. Hold the oyster against a hard surface and insert the pointed end of the opener into the closed edge of the oyster - the hinge. Make sure it's pointed up and let gravity work for you. The oyster should give without a problem - but if it doesn't, insert into the other side. It may take a few times to get the feel of it but I can shuck a dozen oysters in 30 seconds without a knick, scrape or cut.

        7 Replies
        1. re: bryan

          Thanks for this tip! Will try this next time when we shuck oysters at home. Seems like it takes husband a while w/ just a dozen. If that doesn't work so well, am def. buying an oyster shucking knife. I don't think it's that hard, it's just a matter of practice and finesse.

          1. re: Carb Lover

            So what does he use to shuck them now?

            1. re: bryan

              Something that looks like a sturdy rounded paring knife; I have no idea where it came from. One of those "junk" items that gets moved from house to house for some reason. It's completely flat though, so no upturned end to help w/ the prying. Last time he shucked oysters for the dish below, he vowed to get a shucking knife for next time! The irregular shaped miyagis can be very stubborn!


              1. re: Carb Lover

                Thanks for the elucidation Carb. As usual, you're more than informative - you're delightful. Am so glad to have you on this board. Keep it up darling. Warm Regards, Barbara

                1. re: bryan

                  Thanks for your kind words. I read your exact post to my husband and he got all excited...until he realized that he still needs a device to sweep the oyster body from the shell. I guess he could do that w/ a paring knife, but I think we'll just get an oyster knife eventually to make life easier. Happy shucking!

                  1. re: Carb Lover

                    I use a grapefruit spoon. :)

          2. re: bryan

            Just to expand a bit on Bryan's excellent description, which I agree is the correct way to do it . . . every oyster has a top and bottom shell. The top shell is more-or-less flat and the bottom is more-or-less rounded. The difference can be subtle, but if you look carefully you should be able to decide which is which. You'll find the procedure much easier if you position the oyster correctly, i.e., top shell on top. And while I agree that a can opener works fine, if you really plan on doing it often a proper oyster knife - short and stout with a slightly bent tip - is a small and worthwhile investment.

          3. Oyster knives aren't expensive, in fact, they are quite cheap; can't think why your husband would hold off on buying one.

            Buy cheap gardening gloves to wear and as Bryan said, open at the hinge. Stick the oyster knife in the hinge and twist.

            If it gives you problems, work around the oyster then go back to the hinge.

            Throw away the gloves. Oyster muck is the nastiest smelliest stuff on earth and it starts to smell quick.

            You probably want to do this outside.

            1 Reply
            1. re: BlueHerons
              1 wiener hound

              One evening I was have dinner at Bowens Is. I am sure BlueHerons knows where that is. I was in the Roast Oyster Room with my wife and a friend and her 20 something daughter. I had been openings oyster at that time for about 45 years and banging a few digits once and awhile when the 20 something taugh me something. I too had always used the hinge end and then applied manly force. The dear darling across form me said au contrair. Do use the hinge but use a twisting motion instead of force. It is like a tickle not a jab. Go figure it works.

            2. Learned this trick from locals while standing in about a foot of water at the mouth of the Hama Hama River on the Hood Canal up in WA.

              Use a cheap long blade oyster knife (like a letter opener with a larger handle, reg. short blade will work but these provide a little more impact) hold by the hinge end with the top (flat) side up and hack at the tip with the blade using glancing blows. The layers of shell come off quite easily and a small hole will appear. Insert tip of knife and twist. Didn't need a glove. This worked so well, I was eating about one oyster for every 2-3 I tossed in the bucket.

              Don't do this indoors and even outdoors would suggest setting up next to a flower bed or lawn area away from your patio or dining area that you can hose down afterwards. It makes a little bit of a mess and we found that the ants love the shell pieces.