Before quarantine, I had always wanted to master the art of shucking oysters—it’s a simple skill that goes a long way as a New Englander and seafood lover.
I’ve taken full advantage of my spare time this spring by picking up local oysters and shucking them at home. I would also say that my personal love for oysters has turned into a professional obsession, albeit amateur…
I had only shucked oysters twice before quarantine.
The first time was when I placed an online order of farm-fresh oysters from Massachusetts for a family gathering in Virginia. It took me a while to get comfortable with the procedure. With some guidance from my uncle—who drew from his experience opening clams—it was a good crash course.
The second time I tried shucking was in the Marennes-Oléron region in France, the oyster bed capital of the country. Fun fact: oysters from Marennes Oléron earned a EU certified label (indication géographique protégée) that classifies les huîtres from the region as having a separate classification from other oysters to ascertain quality and authenticity.
Admittedly, I could have struggled less while prying open my French oysters if it wasn’t for the long hours spent sunbathing on the beach and the refreshing pours of rosé during apéro…
Anyways, if I can figure out how to open an oyster, anyone can.
And for shuck’s sake, let’s get to it.
How to Shuck Oysters
What You’ll Need
Fresh oysters → If you live in a coastal community, I highly recommend ordering oysters from a local oyster farm. If not, Food & Wine suggests where you can order oysters from online.
Oyster knife → Having the right knife reduces the struggle to open your oysters. I would advise going with a longer knife with a broad tip.
Oyster clamp, wooden → I’ve tried more traditional methods of shucking and the clamp makes shucking an easier and safer process. Watch the wooden oyster clamp in action here.
Kitchen towel (optional)
Kitchen gloves (optional)
5 Easy Steps to Shucking Oysters
Place one oyster in the wooden oyster clamp—the flat side should be on the top side while the round or “belly” of the oyster should be on the bottom. Secure the oyster well by placing it as deep into the clamp as possible.
Take your oyster knife, place it at the joint of the oyster, and carefully wiggle your knife while pressing into the clamp. Repeat this step until the oyster opens.
Finish shucking your oyster by carefully moving the knife along the edge. Be sure to detach the muscle from the top shell. Remove the top shell and set the shucked oyster onto a plate with crushed ice.
Repeat steps 1-3 until you’ve shucked all of your oysters.
Serve with fresh lemon and your favorite oyster accoutrements, accompanied with a bottle of champagne, sparkling wine or rosé. Bon appetit!