LEARN: 5 CORE OYSTER FACTS

Author:
Kevin Joseph

We all have “that” friend that knows more about wine then the rest of us, and to our dismay (or delight) they always take the lead on choosing the bottle for the table. We want you to be “that friend”, but for oysters.  It’s time for you to own an expertise, and with these 5 myth-busting talking points, you will quickly become the go-to oyster expert in your circle.

You CAN Eat Oysters in months without an “R”!!!

We like to say "There is no R in May, June, July or August. But there is an R in SummeR!" Yes, its safe these days. In the United States, thanks to strict commercial growing and harvesting rules and conditions, oysters (and other bivalves) are safe to eat every month of every year. So where did the “R” month thing come about you ask? Pretty simple. It came from the late 19th and early 20th century when raw sewage was being dumped into the same harbors as oyters were being harvested from in cities like New York, Boston, Baltimore. And in the summer, bacteria would bloom with the higher water temperatures. So, people who ate those oysters harvested from those waters in the summer, well, they got sick. This being the time before the relationship between food and bacteria was understood, people just thought "Oysters are poisonous in the summer". We now know better and we dont harvest shellfish from uncertified waters anymore. So slurp up year round.

Oysters are Aphrodisiacs...

Let’s start from the beginning. This discussion started with the notorious and infamous 18th-century lover, Giacomo Girolamo Casanova. It is said that Casanova ate 50 oysters every morning for breakfast, which gave him the stamina to exceed and please the expectations of his many sexual partners. Fast forwarding a few centuries, scientiific research studies show that oysters are loaded with amino acids and zinc which support brain function and trigger increased levels of sexual hormones. Since the brain is the largest sexual organ (aside from the skin), it stands to reason that eating oysters will turn us on. Lastly we mustn’t ignore that a well shucked, plump oyster has a very strong resemblance to the female genitalia, and that oysters are eaten by being slurped and sucked. So while the masses will continue to discuss, argue and debate whether oysters are or are not aphrodisiacs – and we’re  sorry to disappoint you but not having the answer either – we’ll leave you with this…eating oysters is fun, sexy, delicious and make us feel good. How does it get any better than that? 

Oysters should be eaten with cocktail sauce...

Ask any oyster farmer, grower or expert and they’ll recommend that you to eat your oyster “naked” – or – without added sauce. One of the wonderful qualities about oysters is that they come with their own natural “sauce” or oyster liquor. By adding cocktail sauce or mignonette, it will overpower the delicate nature flavor of the oyster. The Oyster liquor is the natural liquid or juice inside the oyster that keeps it alive once it’s harvested out of the water. This juice is filled with a unique merroir (more on that below) that tastes amazing and enhances your oyster eating experience. As we say, "Friends dont't let friends use cocktail sauce". I mean, why would ANYONE put ketchup on an oyster? Total flavor kill which is why cocktail sauce was invented. It was created to mask the scent and taste of rancid oysters. It is a vestige of days long past. Thank God!

Kumamotos are the Best Pacific Oyster...

Avid oyster eaters know and classify their oysters as either East Coast (large, shallow and flat) or West Coast (small, deep and sharp), and that pacific  “seed” oysters make up almost the entirety of the West Coast category. Pacifics are generally known for being smaller with sharp or pointy shells – which does define the size and shape of a Kumamoto, so it is easy for one to understand why most people consider the Kumamoto a pacific oyster.  However, Kumamoto oysters are actually their own species. Originally from Japan, the Kumamoto oyster was first introduced to the US, specifically, Washington State, in 1947 as a substitution for the Pacific Oyster.  Today Kumamotos are the most popular and sought after oyster in the US. Want to know more about the 5 species of oysters? Learn more HERE.

These oysters are salty…

When it comes to Oysters, replace the word “salty” with “briny”, which literally means, “of salty water or relating to the sea”.  Oysters naturally take on the characteristics of where they are produced. In the wine world, this is called Terroir (tehr-wahr), but in the bivalve world, it’s called Merroir [mer (sea) + terroir], meaning the way an oyster’s flavor reflects where it was grown. Because the properties of water that are found in the sea vary in each climate, body of water and location, oysters will have a taste distinctive to the geography of their harvest. It’s worth noting that by in large, East Coast oysters are brinier than their West Coast counterparts due to the higher salinity levels of the Atlantic.

 

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