How to shuck an oyster

There’s a knack to preparing, or shucking, oysters. Follow our tips on everything from how to tell if an oyster is good to eat, to cleaning an oyster and opening an oyster shell.

How to shuck an oyster

You will need:
18 very fresh native or rock oysters
An oyster knife (we like Oxo Good Grips)
A clean tea towel (to protect your hand)

1. Make sure the oyster is closed tightly. If it is open, it’s dead and shouldn’t be eaten… discard.

2. Clean the outside of the shell under running water to remove any grit.

3. Wrap one of your hands in a tea towel and hold the oyster with its flat shell facing upwards.

4. Push the tip of your knife into the hinge at the narrow end of the oyster.


5. Carefully work the blade from left to right to loosen the hinge, being careful not to break the shell.


6. Twist the knife to open the oyster, being careful not to spill the juices. Push the blade in and run it along the underside of the top shell to cut the oyster muscle. Discard the top shell.


7. Use the knife to detach the muscle underneath the oyster from the bottom shell and turn the oyster over (this is for presentation and so you can eat the oyster in one go)


Raw or cooked?
If you’ve bought native oysters (like the ones shown here), there are three classic ways to serve freshly shucked raw oysters:

  • squeeze lemon juice over
  • a shake of Tabasco
  • a tiny spoon of a shallot vinaigrette (or mignonette)

As for rock oysters (the long, craggy type) you can bake them or add them to a rarebit. Rock oysters are generally available year round in the UK, while natives are at their best from September to April (all those months with an ‘r’ in the month, as folklore says).

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