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Everything You Need to Know About Oysters

Everything You Need to Know About Oysters

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The folks behind San Francisco's Waterbar share some ideas for serving everyone's favorite oysters on a half shell

Jessica Chou

While serving raw oysters at your next dinner party might seem a bit sketchy, the chefs over at Waterbar assure us that there's nothing scary about oysters at all.

Parke Ulrich and Greg Babinecz at Waterbar share their best oyster-serving tips, from how to buy them to how to serve them. Babinecz recommends finding an oyster producer you can trust, "some place with a high turnover, like a fresh fish market that's not keeping them in-house for too long," he says. "Someone you can really just talk to, ask what's freshest." And if local stores aren't an option, Ulrich says plenty of oyster farms now sell their oysters online.

"A lot of farmers nowadays have methods where they’re growing oysters at their best all year round," Ulrich says, "During certain times of the year their fat levels are different and that’s just a preference for people."

Oysters grown in colder water tend to have a cleaner, brinier taste, so Ulrich and Babinecz suggest serving them like wines, from the lightest to the heaviest.

"You have five species, which is a very big thing," Babinecz says. "In an ideal progression, I like to start with a nice crisp East Coast oyster, move to a bit more briny West Coast oyster, then probably move into a nice creamy Kumamoto, and finish with the Olympias and the European Flat oysters, since they'll have stronger flavors. They're heavy on copper flavors."

As for shucking them? Well, that's another story altogether.

Everything you need to know about Loch Fyne Oysters

Where are they

Loch Fyne Oysters is situated about an hour’s drive west of Glasgow.

Located near Cairndow on the A83, the world-famous Oyster Bar and Deli shop enjoy scenic vistas out across the gentle waters of Loch Fyne.

A regular bus service leaves from Glasgow’s Buchanan Street Bus station, with a stop right outside the Loch Fyne Oyster Bar and Deli.

What do they sell

Originally established as an oyster growing business in 1978, the company has expanded over the past four decades to include seafood, a smokehouse, the Oyster Bar restaurant, farm shop and deli.

The original farm shop started in a small shed in the lay-by at the head of Loch Fyne in the early 1980s. In 1988 it moved into the old cow byre at Clachan Farm, and the Oyster Bar opened up alongside.

The Loch Fyne Deli has grown to be a well-stocked larder store with everything from freshly-caught langoustine, to smoked salmon, jams, preserves, local meat, dairy produce and sweets.

Much of what you’ll find in-store is sourced via ‘Food from Argyll' producers, showcasing the best food & drink the area has to offer.

The Loch Fyne Oyster Bar serves fresh seafood, locally-caught seafood including the famous oysters from waters just minutes from the restaurant’s door. The Deli and Oyster Bar are open all year round from 9am. Closing times vary according to season.

A brief history

Local landowner Johnny Noble and marine biologist Andy Lane started the Loch Fyne Oyster Farm in 1978. First sales came from the original 'Loch Fyne Shop' located in a shed on the A83.

Both men were oyster enthusiasts, and were keen that they developed best practice in aquaculture from the outset. Innovation, sustainability and respect for the environment were key and continue to underpin the values of the company.

The Loch Fyne Oysters' motto is the Gaelic phrase ‘Nach Urramach an Cuan’, or ‘How worthy of honour is the sea’.

By the late 1980s, the oyster bar and farm shop were doing a roaring trade, putting this scenic corner of Argyll firmly on the tourist map.

In 1990, the inaugural Loch Fyne Food Fair took place, bringing together local food & drinks producers, music, and family entertainment. In 2015, the two day event celebrated its 25th year, and has the honour of being Scotland’s longest-running outdoor food festival.

A little bit about the restaurant

The restaurant is open daily throughout the year opening from 9am for breakfast, through to lunch and early dinner.

Head Chef Jamie Nicholson, seeks the best of the season’s flavours for the restaurant and oyster bar menus. With a natural larder of some of Scotland’s finest seafood on their doorstep, it’s no wonder this is a year-round foodie destination.

Early-risers can enjoy smoked Peterhead haddock and poached eggs, or a smokey Loch Fyne grilled kipper. From fresh native oysters ‘au naturel’ to roasted lobster and their famed smoked salmon platter, to buttery grilled langoustine fish is very much the dish and choosing amongst such tempting choices can prove tricky.

And the winner is.

Over the years Loch Fyne Oysters have picked up a whole host of awards that celebrate our commitment to great tasting Scottish seafood and shellfish. These include:

• Great Taste 2015 - Kinglas Fillet and Whisky Marinated

Highlands and Islands Food and Drink Awards: Environment Award 2015

Best Scottish Mussels 2015: Association of Scottish Shellfish Growers

• Food & Drink Excellence Awards 2014 : Seafood Category - Kinglas Fillet

• The Queen’s Award for Enterprise: International Trade 2014

Everything you need to know about the oyster capital of California

Whether you&rsquore eating Pacifics or Kumamotos, chances are if you&rsquore in California, the fresh oysters you ordered came from Humboldt Bay, the state&rsquos oyster capital.

Like the San Francisco Bay, Humboldt Bay is ringed by mountains, hills and beaches. But the Humboldt inlet, which skirts the historic seaport of Eureka, isn&rsquot nearly as developed. A fortunate combination of geography, tides and human invention make Humboldt Bay a perfect habitat for oysters.

Humboldt Bay produces 10 million oysters or more a year, according to production reports from local aqua-farmers. Factor in the seed oysters shipped across the nation and beyond, and the number jumps to the hundreds of millions. Closer to home, Marin-based Hog Island Oysters now grows seed oysters here, trucking them to Tomales Bay later in their life cycle.

Two-thirds of the shellfish cultivated in the state originate in Humboldt, the Golden State&rsquos second-largest natural bay, according to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. In all, Humboldt oysters generate at least $6 million in sales per year, and a payroll of $1.4 million, according to the Humboldt Bay Harbor District.

To celebrate, the town of Arcata hosts a bivalve bacchanalia each June, usually on Father&rsquos Day, in which revelers slurp down some 100,000 oysters and spend almost $1 million. Should you attend, be sure to see or join the oyster-calling contest for a memorable laugh.

One secret of the oyster success is hydraulic. Like a slow-motion Bay of Fundy, Humboldt Bay completely flushes itself twice a day, ensuring that its waters are super fresh, which the water-filtering oysters appreciate.

Another is environmental. For decades, oyster farmers vacuumed up mature oysters from the bay floor, which ravaged the ecosystem, killing bat rays and grinding up rare eel grasses. Today they grow them in racks and bags or on long lines, off the bay floor, which protects the oysters from predators and the bay from dredging. The six farms, which together cover hundreds of acres in the central sections of the bay, reveal themselves at low tide, when the long lines, framed by PVC pipes, jut out of the water in rambling rows.

Of the oysters, Kumamotos, a smaller, more delicately flavored variety, with wavy shells and deep cups, seem most at home in Humboldt Bay. The Goldilocks conditions in the bay, not too hot or cold, produce what many consider the finest-tasting Kumos, a variety with origins in Japan&rsquos Kumamoto prefecture.

Whether Kumos or Pacifics, Humboldt oysters continue to impress, even diners with noble tastes. On a recent visit to Eureka, Countess Judy Bentinck, a British hat maker whose creations topped many heads at Prince Harry&rsquos wedding, made a beeline for Humboldt Bay Provisions to try the Kumos. Her husband Tim, earl of Portland (England, not Oregon), a noted actor and world traveler, couldn&rsquot resist the fried, plump Pacifics. &ldquoAbsolutely delicious,&rdquo he declared recently over dinner. &ldquoI can&rsquot recall any better.&rdquo

How to enjoy oysters in Eureka

Where to buy

For retail buys at wholesale prices, pick up dozens of live Kumamotos and Pacifics at the Coast Seafoods processing plant, just south of the Old Town Eureka boardwalk. Go upstairs to the office, pay, get your ticket and go back downstairs, where the oyster crew will bag your bulk order, often taken from the bay that day, and give you crushed ice upon request. 25 Waterfront Drive 707-442-2947 weekdays 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Where to dine

Overlooking Humboldt Bay in a restored historic storefront, Cafe Waterfront is one of the most popular oyster bars and grills on the North Coast. With good reason. The menu boasts many fresh catches, including the bay&rsquos signature bivalves, whether in shooters, stews or omelets, grilled or raw on the half shell. The cafe, a high-ceilinged affair with big windows and colorful stained glass, murals and occasional jazz trios, hosted a high-end brothel in Victorian times. A few second-floor rooms are still rented to guests, convenient for a late dinner. 102 F St., Eureka 707-443-9190

A few miles south of Eureka off Highway 101, Gills by the Bay has served its signature, fresh-picked crab omelets and sandwiches since the 1940s. But the Gill family cooks up exceptional oysters too. After a classic Hangtown Fry omelet smothered in oysters, mushrooms, onions, peppers and bacon, or deep-fried oysters dipped, rolled and hot dunked, peruse pictures of old fishermen on the low-key diner&rsquos walls. Some are of young Ben Gill, one of the last bona fide whalers on the North Coast. Now 90, he might still pour your coffee. Or walk outside to the garden patio, full of strawberries (help yourself), flowers, birds, fish ponds and old fishing gear, overlooking wooden docks and a wide, peaceful expanse of Humboldt Bay. 77 Halibut Ave., King Salmon 707-442-2554

Where to catch

Don&rsquot just eat oysters. Boat to them, scoop them out of the bay and slurp them up on a tidal flat. How does one dive into such an edible adventure? Hail Sebastian Elrite, chief oyster farmer with Aqua-Rodeo Farms and skipper of a skiff that takes culinary passengers on oyster excursions in Humboldt Bay. During low-tide tours with him, you can harvest your own mollusks and eat fresh from the bay or take them into Old Town Eureka, where a number of kitchens (Carter House Inns, Humboldt Bay Provisions) will prepare them for you. 707-836-3168

One-buck shuck

If the tide is high, fret not. A bivalve buffet awaits at Humboldt Bay Provisions, especially on Buck a Shuck Tuesday evenings, when Captain Sebastian, who looks like the Robert Redford of commercial fishermen, will personally shuck and serve the raw and cooked oysters. Popular Provisions styles include traditional mignonette, a house-made peach habanero, a Garlic Delight, and Russian sauce with local vodka, tomatoes and chives. Delicate Kumamotos are always worthwhile, as are the plump broiled Bucksports, a briny and robust variation of Pacific oysters. Wash it all down with Humboldt wines, beers, ciders or kombucha. Daily happy hours further entice, as do oyster discounts when you post something on social media. 205 G St., Eureka 707-672-3850

Where to stay

Oyster Beach, of course. The private waterfront property with meadows cypress and eucalyptus groves white sand bay beaches and stylishly restored, shabby-chic cabanas was once owned by the Grateful Dead&rsquos physician. The 14-acre retreat, directly across Humboldt Bay from Eureka on the Samoa Peninsula, is a 10-minute drive from Eureka and a short walk from miles of secluded ocean dunes and beaches. It&rsquos a great place to launch a kayak, sway in a hammock and grill fresh oysters after a trip with Captain Sebastian, who can pick you up and drop you off at your doorstep beach. 707-834-6555,

CORRECTION: A previous version of this article misidentified Humboldt Bay Provisions. The Chronicle regrets the error.

Everything You Need to Know About Oysters - Recipes

A po' boy or "poor boy" sandwich is a traditional Louisianian sandwich. The American classic almost always consists of meat (usually roast beef / chicken / ham) or fried seafood.

Famous chain restaurants like Hooters, Popeye's and Ruby Tuesday have caught on to the popularity of the sandwich, featuring menu items with a po' boy twist.

The traditional seafood versions of the po' boys are served hot and include fried shrimp and oysters.

Here's a Classic Fried Shrimp Po' Boy Sandwich recipe by Cooking and Beer:

Photo Credit: Cooking and Beer

Prep Time: 20 min
Cook Time: 10 min
Total Time: 30 min
Yield: 4 sandwiches

canola or vegetable oil, for frying

1 pound large shrimp, completely cleaned

1 cup stone-ground yellow cornmeal

2 tablespoons creole seasoning

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 tablespoon cayenne pepper sauce (like Frank's Red Hot)

4 hoagie rolls or french bread cut into fours and then cut lengthwise

4 large green leaf lettuce leaves

Pour enough oil into a dutch oven so that it comes up 2 inches from the bottom. Preheat oil over medium heat until it registers 360 degrees F.

While your oil is heating up, prepare your shrimp. Season the shrimp generously with salt and black pepper. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, creole seasoning and cayenne pepper. Split the mixture evenly into two smaller bowls. In another bowl, add the beaten eggs.

Add the shrimp to one of the bowls with the flour mixture and toss. Then transfer the shrimp to the bowl with the eggs and turn to coat. Lastly transfer the shrimp to the second bowl with the flour mixture. Toss until the mixture adheres, pressing to adhere where needed.

Fry the shrimp in batches until they are cooked through and golden brown, which won't take long, about 3-4 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate to get rid of any excess grease.

In a small bowl, whisk together the mayo and cayenne pepper sauce. Slather the mayo mixture onto the 4 hoagie rolls and then top with shrimp, lettuce, tomato and pickle. Drizzle with more cayenne pepper sauce if desired.

Bonus tip: Pair the sandwich with a balanced pale ale. A pale ale's subtle hoppiness will compliment the heat!

Not all seafood po' boys are fried. In fact, if you're looking for a lighter version of this sandwich, you can try this sautéed shrimp variation by Dessert For Two.

Photo Credit: Dessert For Two

1 tablespoon butter, softened, divided

2 teaspoons cajun creole seasoning

6-7 ounces shrimp, cleaned and tail-less

1/4 teaspoon garlic, fresh, chopped

2 tablespoons lemon juice

Split the wheat rolls and butter the insides with half the butter. Toast the bread in a warm oven.

Meanwhile, stir together the mayonnaise and Cajun seasoning and set aside.

Preheat a small skillet over medium-high heat. Add the remaining butter to the skillet. When it starts to sizzle, add the shrimp and garlic. Add a pinch of salt and pepper. After 1 minute, stir the shrimp and let them cook on the other side for another 1-2 minutes. Do not overcook. When done, add the lemon juice and stir.

Assemble sandwiches: To each side of the bread, spread the mayonnaise mixture. Top with lettuce, shrimp, then onionsand tomatoes. Serve hot.

Another delicious way to enjoy a po 'boy sandwich is trying the fried oyster version. Here's a really great recipe by My Gourmet Connection.

Photo Credit: My Gourmet Connection

2 dozen fresh oysters, shucked

1/2 teaspoon cayenne (or more to taste)

Oil for frying (see recipe notes)

2 medium ripe tomates, thickly sliced

4 hoagie rolls (6-inch), split and lightly toasted

Combine the cornmeal, flour, breadcrumbs, salt, cayenne and paprika in a pie plate. In another pie plate, whisk together the egg and buttermilk. Add the oysters to the egg-buttermilk mixture and turn gently with a large spoon to coat. Remove the oysters, one by one from the egg mixture with a pair of tongs and place in the crumbs. Turn several times to coat evenly with the crumb mixture, then transfer to a plate and let stand for 10 minutes.

While the oysters "rest," make the garlic-onion slaw. Place the cabbage and sliced onion in a large bowl and season with salt and pepper. In a separate bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, mayonnaise, garlic, sugar and hot sauce. Add to the cabbage-onion mixture and toss to combine. Taste and adjust the seasoning as needed. Set aside until ready to assemble the sandwiches.

Heat 1/4-inch of oil in a large skillet to 350°F (medium-high). Test the temperature of the oil by adding a pinch of the dry crumb mixture - if it sizzles immediately, the oil is ready. Add 1/2 the oysters and fry until golden brown and crispy, turning once, about 2-1/2 minutes per side. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate and blot very gently. Repeat with the remaining oysters.

To assemble the sandwiches, line each roll with tomato slices and season them lightly with salt and pepper. Add a portion of the garlic-onion slaw and top with 6 oysters. Serve immediately.

Here are some tips for frying the oysters:

If you don't want to make a po' boy sandwich at home, there are plenty of restaurants that have adopted their own delicious version of the po' boy as well. In fact, there are round-ups of the best po' boy sandwiches in just about any major city. If you happen to find an incredible one near you, be sure to leave it in the comments below!

How to Order Oysters at Restaurants (and Actually Know What You're Doing)

Nobody needs an excuse to order a dozen oysters. But that moment when you get the menu at an oyster bar and stare down a list of 30 different types can be intimidating at best. What's the difference between a Kumamoto oyster or one from Wellfleet? Will it be crisp, clean, and salty or milky, full, and creamy? Large or small?

In order to answer these questions, we attended a class at Feast Portland on everything from shucking and oyster anatomy (the umbo is the soft spot at the hinge!) to eating them like a pro, taught by Lissa James Monberg , a third-generation oyster farmer from Washington state's Hama Hama Oysters . We asked, and Monberg laid out what we need to know when we're thinking of ordering oysters but don't know where to start.


There are five types of oysters, and knowing these species will help tell you who grew it and where it's from. The Pacific oyster, like the ones from Hama Hama, is on the fruity side of the spectrum, Monberg explains. The Kumamoto oyster has a similar flavor profile, but has a deeper cup and doesn't grow to be very large. Then there's the Virginica , or Atlantic oyster, which is more intense in flavor it's saltier, still fruity, and robust. Monberg says you can find these oysters from the Gulf of Maine down to the Gulf of Mexico.

On the other end of the spectrum, you'll find the Olympia oyster and the European Flat . Those two are the same genus, and both are very intense in flavor, even though the Olympia is native to the West Coast and the European Flat is native to Europe (mostly around Brittany, France). The European Flat is less common, large, and—true to its name—flat. "You eat it because it's…interesting," Monberg explains. "They're kind of hard to eat. You eat the oyster, and you're like, this is why French people invented mignonette ."

Enjoying oysters at Sisters in Brooklyn. Photo: Alex Lau

Growing Location and Method

If you like larger, creamier oysters , you'll want to look for oysters from nutrient-rich environments. "Think: rich estuaries, like the Gulf of Mexico, the Mississippi Delta, or Willapa Bay and the South Puget Sound of Washington—anywhere you can imagine bird sanctuaries," explains Monberg.

For smaller oysters with crisp, clean flavors , you'll want oysters from colder, cleaner waters and narrower, smaller waterways, she says: "Think: glaciers and fjords, places where you can see through the water. Or, when you're looking at the water, it's greenish or brownish, because there's so much algae in it."

For those interested in diving deeper, Monberg recommends asking servers about growing method. That is, were the oysters grown down on the beach or tumbled? "It influences shell shape," says Monberg. "Tumbled oysters have a deeper bucket, which holds more seawater, and a round little morsel with a different mouthfeel—in our oysters, that's crisper, brighter flavors." Neither method is better than the other it's just a matter of taste.

Oysters at Rappahannock Oyster Bar in Washington, D.C. Photo: R. Lopez

Tis the Season

Generally, it's a winter-versus-summer thing, says Monberg. At Hama Hama, the oysters spawn in the summer and are exhausted by early fall. After spawning, they'll be thinner, with a little more salinity, and some may have more seawater flooding deeper shells.

This means that, while demand is higher in the summer, winter's the right season for oysters , Monberg explains. When the water gets cold, their metabolisms slow down, and they hibernate. "Winter oysters are really good: They're well-balanced, not too salty and not too bland," she says. Summer oysters, on the other hand, are growing like crazy in 70 degree water (and so is bacteria) and won't be very salty. They also run the risk of being spawn-y ("Eating an oyster gonad is chalky and bitter. No one wants that.") and soft.

Hama Hama actually doesn't sell its oysters in the summer. And many U.S. restaurants, like Publican in Chicago, where Monberg ate last week, fly in New Zealand oysters during the summer months.

Know Your Taste

Get familiar with what you like and dislike. To get acquainted with different oysters, as an introduction, Monberg recommends ordering a sampler of one species (ex: East Coast Virginicas) and then getting geographic variety within that species (ex: Virginicas from Maine, Wellfleet, and the Carolinas). As an example, Monberg gave the class Hama Hamas, Sea Cows, and Blue Pool oysters, which are from the same river in Washington the Blue Pool had a deep bucket and were salty as can be while the Sea Cows were milky, rich, and needed no toppings. Only with direct comparison were their differences highlighted—no matter, we ate them all.

1. The r-month rule DOES matter.

Most people will tell you that the "r-month rule" doesn't matter anymore. They'll say that it's cool to eat raw oysters in a month doesn't have an "r" in it — like August — because it's safe. And sure, it is safe. But you know what? It's gross. Raw oysters aren't meant to be eaten then, so stop it.

“I basically inadvertently follow the r-month rule because they never taste good in the summer,” says Rowan Jacobsen, author of The Geography of Oysters and the best oyster website on the Internet, “It’s perfectly fine to eat oysters any time of year, unless you’re on the Gulf Coast, temps are too high in the summer there."

There was another reason for the r-month rule: It allowed them time to reproduce since oysters spawn in the summertime. On the Gulf Coast, where they still harvest wild oysters, they still have a set season for oystering. But everywhere else, baby oysters are “made” in hatcheries, so natural reproduction is not a real issue.

But still, oysters grown in cold water are better so just follow the rule.

(Note: The r-month rule is only important with raw oysters. Grilled or fried, oysters are about the same year-round.)

Here’s Everything You Need To Know About Oysters

You either love ’em or hate ’em. There’s usually no in-between feelings about oysters. Some common words that are often used to describe these saltwater molluscs are salty, meaty and briny. You can eat them raw, on the half-shell, fried or take them out of the shell for soups, stews, pasta dishes. (You should really check out crispy oyster omelets if you travel to Thailand.)

Raw oysters have long been admired as an aphrodisiac since they’re high in zinc, Vitamin E and have a reputation for being helpful with fertility. They also contain amino acids, which have been known to spark the production of sex hormones. As the warmer weather approaches, you’ll probably notice intriguing signs outside of all your favorite local restaurants for dollar oyster happy hour.

Oysters are usually found along the Atlantic Coast and the Gulf of Mexico in North America. They often live in tidal creeks and estuaries, a partially contained coastal body of brackish water (water with more salinity than fresh water) with rivers and streams flowing into it and an open connection to the sea. Oysters are actually pretty adaptable and can make it through a wide range of water conditions. In addition to oysters being delicious, they’re a huge part of the coastal environment because they help protect the shorelines from erosion.

The Gulf of Mexico produces more than 500 million pounds of in-shell oysters each year, according to the Gulf Coast Seafood site. The size of oysters can vary depending on where they’re harvested, but typically eastern oysters are the biggest in the U.S. because of the gulf’s warm waters. You’ll find them chilling in oyster reefs across the gulf, which include five states: Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida. Gulf oysters can be distinguished from others by their sweeter flavor and softer texture than their northern relatives.

How To Order Oysters

When an oyster craving strikes and you’re at a seafood spot with a bunch of options, it might be helpful to know some lingo. At the very least you can order by size and tell them whether you’d prefer them salty, mild, briny or buttery. Atlantic Oysters (e.g. blue points, malpeque and wellfleet), which are just about the most common, are found along the North American Atlantic coast, all the way from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico. These tend to be larger and tear-drop shaped with a smooth shell and they have a crisp and clean flavor.

Pacific Oysters (e.g. Penn Cove Select, Fanny Bay and Kusshi) come from the Pacific coast, have shells with ruffled edges and their flavor is usually briny, herbaceous and creamy. European Flat Oysters (e.g. Belon) have the boldest flavor with a gamey aftertaste. They come from the Brittany region of France and they’re saucer-shaped with a shallow shell and seaweed-green color.

Olympia Oysters only come from the U.S. Pacific West Coast and they’re harder to cultivate. They have a creamy texture with a sweet celery flavor and a metallic aftertaste. Kumamoto Oysters are imported from Japan and they grow relatively slowly. The oyster itself is small and they come across as creamy and buttery with a sweet, mild and nutty flavor. These are the most approachable and the best for first-time oyster eaters.

How To Eat Oysters

While there’s really no right way to eat a raw oyster, here’s how it’s usually done: Restaurants or raw bars will give you a tiny fork, which you’ll use to gently detach the oyster, while keeping it in the shell. Then comes garnishing. Mignonette sauce isn’t for everyone, but it pairs really well with the saltwater taste of the oyster. The sauce is made using minced shallots, cracked pepper and red-wine vinegar, but if this scares you, there’s always the option to squeeze a little lemon juice on top and call it a day.

Bring the oyster to your nose, get all of those ocean vibes, and then slurp the oyster meat and liquid into your mouth. Maybe chew it a little before sending it down. Now you’ll be a pro the next time your boss takes the team for dollar oysters.

Everything you need to know about oysters, plus a how-to-shuck tutorial

Oyster season is finally "officially" here.

In celebration of all the bivalves out there, we sat down with The Parish co-owners Ethan Powell and Tobias Hogan for a little Oyster 101, where they show and tell us everything there is to know about different species, names, taste, the "R" month legend and how to shuck them (video!).

Q: How many types of oysters are there?

A: There are five species of oysters that we eat in the Northern Hemisphere: the European flat oyster the gigas -- Pacific oyster -- most common along the Northwest coast and British Columbia the Japanese oyster -- Kumamoto the virginica -- Eastern oyster -- propagated from New Orleans to Nova Scotia and the Olympia oyster, or natives (to the Pacific Northwest).

Interesting fact: Factory runoff after WWII killed the Kumamoto population in Japan. They had to take it to the United States and then back to Japan and re-plant. The Kumamoto in Japan now might be native to the United States.

Q: What are the taste differences between species?

A: East coast oysters are much brinier and have a lot of crisp minerality. West coast oysters are richer and have a melon-like finish. Natives, or Olympia oysters, retain a lot of minerality and earthiness because they evolved here. If you have a rain cloud coming off the Pacific, it hits the rainforest in the Pacific Northwest and runs through volcanic soil and streams into the fjords where these grow.

Q: Where do the different tastes come from?

A: The oyster is a filter feeder. When they sit in the water, they've got their trap open and water is passing through. One oyster can filter about 50 gallons a day. As the water passes through, they're taking in all the phytoplankton in the water. You can have an oyster at point A on the beach and have the same oyster at point B, 500 yards away and it will taste completely different.

Because they're filter feeders, they're an indicator species in the bays. When you have a healthy oyster clan/mussel population, you probably have a pretty healthy bay.

Q: What do the different names (e.g. Netarts or Kusshi) of the oyster refer to?

A: The variants of the flavor profiles. It started in New York with the Blue Point oysters. Blue Point was a bay on Long Island that became famous for growing their oysters and they started calling them Blue Point oysters, trademarking them basically. People knew those as a famous oyster. Farmers will talk about oysters by place rather than species to indicate a level of quality or certain profile in order to brand their oysters and sell them.

Q: Is the legend of only eating oysters in months with an "R" true?

A: Maybe 150 years ago before proper refrigeration and before oyster hatcheries developed triploids -- oysters that don't spawn. Now, if the water temperature gets up to a certain level, the USDA will shut that bay down, because vibrio (a foodborne illness associated with undercooked seafood) can form.

Mark Kurlansky wrote a book called The Big Oyster, about the New York oyster industry in late 19 th century when there was a big breakout of people getting sick. They blamed it on the oyster so the mayor said no more eating oysters in months without an "R" -- May, June, July, August. The book talks about how oyster bars all over Manhattan started spelling August with an "R" -- Argust -- so they could sell their oysters earlier.

Q: What should you look for when you're buying oysters?

A: You want to see if the oyster is closed and if you thump the top of the oyster a couple times and it doesn't close voluntarily, it's probably dead and I wouldn't eat it. Make sure there are no cracks or holes in the shell or bottom. A nice heavy oyster means it's probably going to have a lot of liquid and it's still fat and plump. If you bang it down and it sounds kind of hollow, it's probably on its way out. As long as it's still in its liquid, it can process that. The longer it's out of the water, the more like the sea it's going to taste. When it's hollow, it means it either wasn't in great shape when it came out or it's been out of the water a little too long.

Everything You Need to Know About Nutmeg

This wonderfully fragrant and versatile spice deserves a revered spot in your pantry.

Nutmeg (scientific name: Myristica Fragrans) is the seed of an evergreen tree native to Indonesia, Malaysia, and India. It is also now grown extensively in the Caribbean. The seed grows inside a larger pale green fruit. Interestingly, the seed is also covered with a lacy scarlet colored aril that, when removed and dried, becomes the spice we know as mace. Mace and nutmeg have similar flavor profiles… a warm, spicy, but also sweet, flavor, combined with an unmistakable perfume. Grated nutmeg is a bit more pungent, while mace is more delicate and, many feel, sweeter.

As with many spices, it’s best to buy whole nutmegs and grate only the amount you need when you need it. The only proof you will ever need is to grate some fresh and to smell it next to an open container of the pre-ground stuff there is no comparison. Until recent years, nutmeg graters and grinders were specialized tools adding to the clutter in the kitchen drawer. But now, the microplane has pretty much replaced them (and is, of course, used for any number of kitchen jobs). Whole nutmegs can, literally, last for years.

In a way similar to cinnamon, nutmeg has come to represent holiday baking in the U.S. But many cuisines employ nutmeg in a much wider and more varied way, in both sweet and savory dishes. A dusting of this intensely aromatic spice serves as the perfect finishing touch on a glass of holiday eggnog, and it can also make a dish of tortellini sing—nutmeg’s versatility knows few bounds. Which is likely why it is an integral part of spice blends around the globe, lending both its fragrance and sweet warmth.

So, while I will always recommend freshly grated nutmeg for my family’s sugar cookies, I urge you to explore some savory options as well. Try incorporating a dash of fresh nutmeg in dishes involving: beef, pork, chicken, tomatoes, potatoes, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, winter squash, pumpkin, greens, rum, cream sauces, cheese sauces, and pasta.

Here are a few recipes highlighting nutmeg you may want to try:

And, just in case you have ever heard the rumor that nutmeg is hallucinogenic—you𠆝 have to ingest literal cupfuls, and you𠆝 poison yourself in the process anyway, so don’t try it! But don’t forget to try a grating or two in some of the above mentioned savory applications. You’ll be glad you did.

Everything You Need to Know About Bacon Recipes

Bacon is an ingredient that cannot miss any meal. Even though it has been used for millions of years, the recipe for bacon has been modified and adapted so that the result is delicious. And it really is. Bacon goes well on everything. You can make a bacon pie, you can add it to a hamburger or pizza or use it in surprising combinations, such as bacon-flavored gum.

Everyone loves bacon because it is a versatile yet so delicious ingredient that can add a specific aroma to most meals. Bacon makes every meal better. There are many things people do not know about bacon and that will help them enhance its aroma and use it smartly when cooking. Here is everything you need to know about bacon recipes.

Bacon Types

You might think that every type of bacon is the same in every part of the globe. And this is a misconception. Cultures are different and even though it may seem odd, they make bacon from different body parts of a pig.

So, there is the American bacon made from pork belly, which is cured and smoked and it usually comes in thick and thin slices you need to cook. There is the Canadian bacon which is cut from the loin and it is trimmed of fat and cured. This one is usually sold pre-cooked and it has a different flavor compared with the American bacon it is sweeter and more tender.

And of course, Europe has its own ways of making bacon. You have probably heard of pancetta, the Italian bacon that is usually sold in chunks. This type of bacon is not smoked, but it is cured and spiced. And there is the English bacon, part of the shoulder and ham cuts which is smoked and cured.

How Long Does It Last?

When you buy bacon, you probably check the sell-by listed date, which is the first indicator of good or bad bacon. However, the date is not real every time because it depends on many factors: temperature, where it is kept if it was opened or not, sun rays and so on.

So, to make sure that the bacon you use will still be edible, keep in mind that it can be stored in the refrigerator by up to 2 weeks and up to 8 months in the freezer. Cooked bacon can last even less, up to 5 days in the refrigerator, while uncooked and opened bacon can last up to 1 week.

Of course, every type of bacon that is frozen will last a few more months, according to twiftnews on culinary topics.

Bacon Combos

Bacon is full of flavor and in combination with some ingredients it can turn out to be fantastic and mouth-watering. It can be present at breakfast, lunch and dinner meals and even desserts.

Zucchini Bacon Muffins

We all know that morning can be difficult and challenging, especially if you wake up tired and cranky. But bacon can brighten your day in a breakfast muffin. Eggs, zucchini, bacon, and cheese is one of the best combinations of salted muffins. Plus, it helps you save time on time-crunched mornings.

Bacon and Eggs

This is a classic, yet so delicious combination. And its history is quite interesting. Bacon and eggs are the classical American breakfast that was introduced by Edward Bernays to America. Yet, it knows the recipe from Sigmund Freud, so it started in Europe. Bacon and eggs were made to be brought together, as from Chemistry’s point of view, they perfectly complete each other.

Bacon Cheeseburger

Bacon makes the burger!

Can you remember the taste or a hamburger or cheeseburger without bacon? Me neither, because this is another great combination. Bacon is crispy and it adds a touch of flavor and aroma to a plain hamburger. It was firstly introduced in 1963 by A&W Restaurant, which has proudly served it since.

Bacon Salad

Salads are versatile and the term describes quite a wide variety of combinations. There are many legumes, fruits, and seeds you can combine to have a salad, but bacon is the secret ingredient. Fried bacon adds the necessary amount of crispiness, nutrition, and flavor a salad needs.

Bacon and Waffles or Donuts

If we take a look at restaurant menus, we can easily notice that bacon is part of desserts we didn’t even imagine would go well together. However, people have the courage and they have created successful combinations of chocolate, coconut, and bacon.


Bacon is a nice and very popular ingredient, part of famous and delicious dishes. There are many types of bacon and depending on how you keep it, you can extend its shelf life.

Bacon goes well with many things, such as hamburgers, salads, muffins, and, of course, eggs. You can even find it on chocolate donuts and waffles, so it’s clear that everybody loves bacon.

Donna James is a high skilled freelance essay writer and proofreader from Michigan, United States who currently works on various projects focused on the IT&C industry apart from her work . She is interested in everyday development and writes blog posts on various topics, such as marketing and technology.