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How To: Shucking Oysters

The process of shucking oysters, or opening the oysters so that it is possible to eat, is potentially dangerous. It requires the use of a sharp knife, which can cause cuts if it is not handled carefully. Although it takes a little time, practice and care to open an oyster properly, it is rewarding to eat the fresh meat that is inside the shell.

1. Check the Oyster

A live oyster will always have the shell tightly closed. If it is not closed, then the oyster has already died. Always check that the oyster is still alive before shucking. The shell should be tightly closed without any gap.

2. Clean the Shell

Before taking any steps to shuck the oyster, clean any dirt, debris or gunk off the outside of the shell. A stiff-bristle brush is appropriate to clean off any dirt that may be attached to the outside of the oyster shell.


Run cool water over the shell and hold the oyster firmly in one hand. Use a stiff-bristle brush and rub it over the surface of the oyster shell.

Rinse the dirt as it is brushed to determine when the shell is cleaned. Turn the shell over and repeat on the other side until all of the dirt is removed.

3. Put on Gloves

Never shuck oysters without heavy gloves. It is dangerous to shuck oysters without gloves because the risk of cutting a finger is high.

If gloves are not available, then fold up a towel. It will help protect the hands while holding down the oyster.

4. Place the Cup-Side Down

Place the cup-side of the oyster down on a table or cutting board. Never hold the oyster directly in a hand, since it can increase the risk of cutting the fingers. Hold the oyster down firmly with one hand and hold the shucking knife in the other hand.

5. Scrape the Knife Along the Shell

Place the knife at the abductor muscle, or the band that holds the shell together on one side, and slide it into the shell. Scrape the knife along the top, carefully turning the oyster so that the knife moves from one side of the shell to the other. Slide the knife to the bottom of the shell and rotate it back so that the meat is cut free on the bottom.

After the shell is opened, check that it does not have any grit or dirt inside the shell.

The process of shucking an oyster is not difficult, but it does require caution. Carefully handling the knife and taking measures to ensure that the oyster is properly cleaned will help reduce the risks. It is easy to enjoy oysters when the proper technique is used to open the shell.

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