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Jan 1, 2011 11:52 AM

Dexter oyster knives, and prices of oysters at fish stores...

Having given up on finding reasonable priced oysters at local restaurants, I finally got around to getting myself a good oyster knife so I can open my own.

Knife I chose was a Dexter New Haven (Dexter makes four or five top quality, reasonably priced traditional models, all named for oyster cities. No oysters in New Haven anymore, but when I was a kid I can remember seeing empty shells piled up 10 feet high where the oyster boats docked).

Knife is a revelation. I just hold it up in front of the oyster and they pop open from fear and resignation. Seriously, it is amazing how well the thing works compared to various cheapie and homemade ones I have used in the past.

However, even opening them myself, I am still paying $1 to $1.25 each at fish stores which seems awfully expensive after eating $4/dozen happy hour specials in FL. Anyone know if they are any cheaper near the source, say, in Damriscota or the Cape?

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  1. When I buy oysters from Glidden Point I pay about the same price but I buy selects which are much bigger than what I see in fish stores. I think their cocktail size is around $0.75.

    1. Oysters down south are much cheaper, but personally I think the quality isn't even close to our oysters up here. Shells are brittle with lots of damage from parasites and other things that breed in warmer waters.
      I expect to pay at least 90 cents a piece up here, even off the dock.

      1. Wellfleet prices are usually around $1 a pop in Wellfleet. I would argue that they are at least 3x more delicious than Gulf oysters and worth it however!

        1. I now make Whole Foods my go-to for oysters. They stick to a $.99 policy and their quality control/volume means fewer disappointments than my inland fish markets.

          1. Stopped by JPs in Eliot Maine the other day. They are a major oyster vendor (apparently sell to the Grand Central Oyster Bar in NYC) and typically carry 20 varieties. It's unclear from the website if they sell retail, but theydo - but only in quantities of 100 (the 100-count bag being the way oysters are normally packaged for wholesale). Thse run from $50 for some of the Canadian ones (French Kiss?) upward, with some of the good ME and MA ones going for $65 or so (and probably higher). Oh and they ship but not sure how that effects price.
            That seems pretty reasonable to me, if one is intending an oyster bash, considering especially the choice and fact that they are probably a lot fresher than ones bought from a fish store or Whole Foods, and will hence keep longer in the refrigerator if one intends to eat ones way through 100 without assistance.
            Oh, I found Damriscottas at the Free Range Seafood place in MHT for $1, much nicer that the Malpeques I was getting in Concord.

            5 Replies
            1. re: giantmouth

              Funny how these things work. After I wrote that last post my wife came in from the Market Basket supermart a mile down the road with a bag of in-shell oysters. Now in the ten years we have been going there I have NEVER seen oysters there, and they certainly didn't have any during the whole xmas season, a big time for oysters when many grocery stores that don't ordinarily stock them do. So what did they have in mind getting them in now?

              Alas, they couldn't tell her where they were from, and at $6 a pound they were pretty expensive.

              1. re: giantmouth


                How where the oysters, fresh?
                Which Market Basket?
                So, at $6/lb, how much did that figure per oyster?


                1. re: bearzie

                  Warner Market Basket. I found the wrapper, and the were $5 not $6/lb. But the the ones she got me worked out to about $1.30 each. The had a very heavy, somewhat murkey and overpowering, oyster flavor, almost like someone had dumped Chinese oyster sauce on them. A bit too strong for my taste, I much prefer the Damriscottas from Free Range Seafood.
                  I was in the MB a couple days later, so I asked the fish guy if he could check out the packaging and see if he could find where they came from, but he had no luck. The odd thing was, the ones in the case that day were a mix of fairly big knarly looking ones like the ones my wife had bought me, and smaller, neater ones that had a pattern of radial ridges going out from the hinge end. I don't ever recall seeing oysters with that sort of pattern, but I don't claim to be an expert. But the difference between the two was so pronounced that it suggests MB is, at the very least, mixing oysters of different types.

                  1. re: giantmouth

                    I was under the impression that all retailers selling oysters (& maybe any shellfish?) are required to have the tag available from the batch/box/bag they came from with it's identification information. Anyone know if this is true?

                    1. re: Dave B

                      Definitely true. MB was remiss in not being able to produce one - a fine-able offence. This JP's in Eliot sounds fantastic. When I ran an oyster bar from my lobster boat, I ran up to Mook Sea Farm (Damariscotta/ Walpole (207) 563-1456) for 100-count bags of selects and cocktails at about .65 each. You have to call ahead.