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Mar 31, 2008 06:49 PM

Raw Oysters-how long before they die?

Hi there. I bought some delicious looking kumomotos Friday afternoon intending to eat them that night, raw with a nice mignonette.
I totally forgot about them until JUST NOW. Are we asking for a night on the great throne if we eat them raw tonight?
Please share your thoughts/experiences.
I know mussels and clams would be fine for two days, but you can kinda tell when they are dead. No clue what a dead oyster looks like...
If they smell and are slimy I will avoid, but I'd love to hear what you all think.

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  1. I'm generally pretty open about how long I'll let food stay in my fridge before I eat it, but I would not eat those oysters. Into the the trash ....

    4 Replies
    1. re: MMRuth

      Really? Restaurants I've worked in have definitely kept them two to three days...but you think it's unwise, huh?

      1. re: rabaja

        Well - I guess I'm talking about shucked oysters ... can't speak for unshucked.

        1. re: MMRuth

          We haven't shucked them yet, but now you've scared me.
          I'm hoping I'll know when I open them if they've gone off. I should never have gotten a whole dozen!

          1. re: rabaja

            If you stored them well oysters can survive for three evenings (I like it to be on a bed of ice but not submerged), although it's nearing its end in terms of it being really good. You can generally tell an oyster is not good eats if they smell bad, but other hints include an unpleasant colour (generally avoid those that are purplish or strangely pink or red) and a shell that isn't particularly well closed.

    2. If you have had them in the fridge and they are still tightly closed, they're fine.
      A dead oyster is open and it stinks.

      They honestly last for weeks if kept cool and damp. They do dry out some so the sooner you eat them, the better the quality, but they stay alive and don't die or spoil.
      I sometimes buy a bushel from waterman and keep it in the unheated garage for a week or so during the Winter, so we can have them every day as long as they last. We bring in a few dozen every night and no one has ever gotten sick.

      Now that I've shocked half of CH...
      In past centuries, oysters from the Chesapeake Bay were harvested and shipped inland via Rivers, C&O Canal and railroads. They were shipped North from New Orleans on the Mississippi to Chicago. From New York and Boston via rivers and canals, through the Great Lakes to inland cities. They reached as far inland as Denver, long before planes or fast trains.
      Well before America's founding, oysters were brought from the Northern coast of France to Paris and inland.
      Oysters have been shipped for centuries. They'll be fine.

      13 Replies
      1. re: MakingSense

        Agree...if kept cool an moist...7-10 problem....

        1. re: Pollo

          Important to remember that they're alive. No plastic cover. And no ice. If the ice melts, the fresh water will kill them since they're salt/brackish water creatures. You can store them on several layers of wet newspaper and cover them loosely with a damp towel or more damp newspaper.

          Clams and mussels are more fragile so they don't last as long.
          With any mollusks, if they're open and don't pull closed immediately when you touch them, they're dead and shouldn't be eaten.

          1. re: MakingSense

            Plastic containers are fine as long as they are not air tight. Water itself will not kill them but the chlorine in the water will. Using damp newspapers or paper towers again will kill them because of the chlorine in the paper. Use damp cotton towel as a base and you'll be fine.

            1. re: Pollo

              Geez, pollo, the waterman on the Cheaspeake have been using newspaper, cardboard, and brown paper bags for generations for oysters and both hardshell and softshell crabs. That's how they store some of them before transferring them to brokers on their way to wholesale markets. Same in in the Gulf Coast region.
              That works just fine. My family has always done that with no mass mortality.

              1. re: MakingSense

                Gee....I guess it's your health....any idea what goes into ink used in the newspapers?

                1. re: Pollo

                  The Washington Post uses soy-based ink. Completely awful. Comes off all over your hands and shirtsleeves.

                  Sorry you don't approve.
                  The newspaper gets on the oyster shells. Not like you're sucking it, is it?
                  Perhaps it might be wonderful if waterman used tidy sterile butchers paper or something. They never have. Generations of them have just done it this way. There's no way we're going to change these guys.
                  Sort of part of the charm of the old Chesapeake Bay or Gulf Coast.
                  Doesn't seem to be killing anybody.

                  1. re: MakingSense

                    It's not that I don't approve...but there are better ways to store the need for newspapers....most of the live soft-shell crabs (from Maryland) sold in the Bay Area that I have bought come packed in trays lined with wet/moist straw....

                    1. re: Pollo

                      That's because they have to frou-frou things up for you San Francisco types.
                      There are a couple of crab shedding operations within about 5 minutes of my house on the Chesapeake.
                      The crabs come directly out of the water when they shed, and go into newspaper-lined cardboard trays from beer distributors - the kind that cases of beer come in. That's what the crabs go to the brokers and restaurants in. Or to my house.
                      Until the broker comes for his pick-up, they're stored in refrigerators in those trays, covered with damp newspaper.

                      These guys already work on small profit margins. They're reusing/recycling. Why buy straw or something when they can get the cardboard and newspaper for free?

                      Not as pretty as straw but this isn't San Francisco.

                      1. re: MakingSense

                        If you pay for it they better make it thew way you want it....$$$ talk...

                        1. re: Pollo

                          there is also a different transport time for crabs re: Chesapeake vs. Dungeness, maybe not much, but the traditional methods should be considered (seeing how much is flash frozen when even local)

        2. re: MakingSense

          I've been touting "The Big Oyster: History on the Half Shell" by Mark Kurlansky, amazing how stable the little suckers can be if handled well.

            1. re: litchick

              I've only read that and "Salt", have yet to hit "Cod"

              something always makes me want to say those with exclamation points.

        3. Just curious what you have done finally?

          For me, the furthest stretch for unshucked, fresh oysters was three days, stored under a cool temperature. They seemed drier and stronger in smell, but nothing was off and I was fine from it.

          On the other hand, I heard from someone who has shucked countless oysters that, once opened, you can tell they are still alive if the flesh shrinks back a bit, when you tease the edge of the body with your knife. I hope somebody here can verify that.

          1. shuck 'em and suck 'em! they will be fine.

            1. I kept avoiding this topic because I feared some some squeamish closet PETA person trying to guilt me out over my oyster lust! PHEW! My grandfather used to haul a huge sack of oysters home from Tomales Bay and store them in the ice box (yes.. ice box) wrapped in damp newspaper. The first three days we gorged on raw oysters. The next two or three days, the last ones, being a bit stressed and stronger-tasting, were cooked in different ways.. like crumbed, fried, and eaten in a soft roll with shredded lettuce, macerated red onions, and tartar sauce. I can't say that I have ever had my fill of oysters.

              3 Replies
              1. re: fromagina

                fromagina: you beast, I bet you even consider leather shoes...

                yeah, Johnson Oyster Farm.

                1. re: hill food

                  Well.. why waste all of that good thick skin that's left over after the beef is removed? Anyway.. my oyster shell shoe-idea bombed.

                  1. re: fromagina

                    well shells might cause calluses for one.