How To Clean Oysters [5 Steps for Slurping Success]

January 24, 2023
by Jack Lyons

This article may contain affiliate links.
We may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.

Oysters are among those seafood options that are considered not only a delicacy but also a fine-dining option, with people paying lots of money for a restaurant dish made with oysters.

However, there are many people who choose to buy or collect raw oysters from the ocean, clean them, and enjoy them at home in a cooked dish or by the sea while they are raw and as fresh as they can be.

But how can you clean oysters? What is the process you need to follow to make sure your oysters are safe to eat?

It is questions like these that many people have, which is why we have written this article to share with you some tips on how to clean oysters and how to best enjoy them.

So, keep reading below to find out everything you need to know about how to clean oysters and the steps to take to enjoy them!

How To Find Healthy And Safe-To-Eat Oysters

When cleaning oysters, the first step is to get the freshest oysters you can. Of course, when you buy them from a fishmonger you only know what they tell you about their freshness.

However, if you leave in an area by the sea or are on vacation somewhere where you can get your hands on some fresh oysters by yourself, that’s even better.

As ever, though, avoid the open ones because they're dead and infected by microbes from both external sources and intrinsic degradation.

And if you want to check whether the oyster you caught is fresh and safe to eat, then try tapping it. If it’s alive and edible, then it will snap shut.

How To Clean Oysters For Cooking

Even though oysters can be eaten raw, several people enjoy them more when they are cooked, and even more so when it's pre-shucked oysters they have ended up losing some of their juiciness but are nevertheless delicious when cooked the right way.

When you are trying to work with shelled oysters, they won't be cleaned, and they'll most probably have some mud on them from their salty underwater habitat.

Cleaning them is easy, as you simply need to put them in a sieve and wash them under cold water to remove the mud and dirt.

Some people also prefer to put them in iced water to make scrubbing the dirt and grease away an effortless process.

Even so, to thoroughly scrub all the dirt away, you might need a toothbrush or a strong brush.

In case the oysters you are about to cook came in a jar, they were most likely saved in clean water rather than their liquid.

Because that water won't make much of a difference when cooking the oysters, you can quickly rinse them and then use them according to the recipe you are following.

Plate for fresh oysters

How To Cook The Oysters

Most recipes you will find online will most probably involve baking, steaming, oven-roasting, or grilling the oysters.

If you are a big fan of oysters, steaming them is the simplest and most delicious method.

Baking and oven-roasting oysters are also simple methods that require you to use nothing but an oven, while grilling is also an excellent way to cook oysters while they are still in their shells.

However, if you have some breadcrumbs, you can also try some fried pre-shucked oysters, as this cooking method will make it possible for you to incorporate a variety of ingredients and flavorings to render the oysters even more delicious.

The Process Of Eating Fresh Oysters

Here are the steps you need to follow to enjoy your raw, shelled oysters:

Clean The Oysters

To begin with, you must clean the oysters under cold tap water to get rid of any mud or dirt.

While you are washing them, thoroughly check them to make sure you’ve effectively removed all dirt.

In the meantime, you need to also ensure that all shells are closed, and if you find any that are open, throw them away at once.

Place Them On A Towel

Set a clean hand towel on the table or your kitchen countertop and put the oysters on the towel while using a second towel to keep each one of the oysters in place while you clean them one at a time.

Open The Shells

Using a specialty knife, open the oysters one by one by inserting the knife’s tip into the shells’ hinge.

The hinge is the meeting point of the top and bottom of the shell and you will recognize it by its slight indentation.

Press your knife a little bit inside and start moving it to split the top shell from the bottom one.

Loosen The Oysters

After you open the shells, don’t forget to loosen the oysters inside their shell, otherwise, it will be harder for you to slurp them.

Don’t Discard The Liquid

Under no circumstances should the liquid found inside the shells be discarded!

This is known as oyster liquor, and it adds that incomparable ocean freshness to your mouth, so don’t get into thinking it’s a sign that something’s wrong with the oysters or that they have gone bad.

Once you’ve opened a couple of oysters, you will get more familiar with the process, and the rest of them will be a piece of cake for you to open and enjoy.

The Bottom Line

Learning how to clean oysters will not take you more than a couple of minutes.

It is a very easy thing to do, and it’s also a very enjoyable and fun activity, especially when you are doing it by the sea after many dives deep in the ocean to catch them.

However, no matter where and how you choose to eat your oysters – raw or cooked – make sure you have followed our tips and cleaned them well enough so that you won’t taste any mud or dirt when slurping them.

You might also be interested in: Honest Cangshan Knives Review [And Our Top 4 Favorites]

About the Author
Related Stories