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An A to Z guide to choosing, storing, preparing, and cooking fresh produce and recipe ingredients.

  • How to Choose Oysters
    Buy oysters as fresh as possible. Choose those with a natural sea smell and tightly closed shells—if they’re open, they should snap shut when you tap them. In general, the smaller the shell, the more tender the meat. Farmed oysters are a better choice than wild, which can have elevated toxin (PCB) levels. The main types found in U.S. markets are Eastern or Atlantic (Bluepoint, Malpeque, Wellfleet), Pacific or Japanese (including little Olympias from Puget Sound), and small, intensely flavored flat or Belon (European imports farmed on both coasts).

  • How to Store Oysters
    Cover oysters with a damp cloth and store in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. Don’t put them in fresh water; it will kill them.

    How to Prepare Oysters
    Shucking oysters is a bit tricky, but using a folded kitchen towel or a heavy glove to hold them as you work should protect your hands; a special oyster knife is safer to use than a paring knife. Here’s how to go about it: Scrub the oysters. Hold one in a towel in the palm of your hand (or just in your gloved hand), with the flatter side up. Insert the knife into the hinge and twist to pry the shells open. Twist off the top shell. Run the knife along the underside to sever the muscle. Remove the meat.

  • How to Use Oysters
    When fresh, oysters are best eaten raw, perhaps with a squeeze of lemon, Tabasco sauce, or pepper. They’re also delicious grilled, breaded and fried, or in stews. Use cooked or canned oysters in stews and soups, or serve battered and fried.

    —Jenny Rosenstrach

    Real Simple Oyster Recipes:

    See all Oyster recipes »

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