Shucking 101

Bill shucking an oyster

Wash and rinse the oysters thoroughly in cold water. Open or shuck an oyster by placing it on a table, flat side up, holding it with your non-dominant hand. With your dominant hand force the oyster knife between the shells at or near the thin end. To make it easier to insert the knife, the thin end or “bill” may be broken off with hammer. Now cut the large abductor muscle close to the flat upper shell in which it is attached and remove the shell. Cut the lower end of the same muscle, which is attached to the deep half of the shell, and leave the oyster loose in the shell if it is to be served on the half shell, or drop it into a container.

After shucking, examine the oysters for bits of shell, paying particular attention to the muscle, to which pieces of shell sometimes adhere.

Hinge shucking an oyster

Wash and rinse the oyster thoroughly with cold water. While wearing a protective glove, hold the oyster in your non-dominant hand with the cup side down. The curved side of the oyster should be against the palm of your hand. The point, or hinge, should be facing toward you. Insert the oyster knife into the hinge. Point the knife down into the cup of the oyster. Use a twisting motion to separate the top and bottom shells. You will feel the hinge pop when the seal is broken when you twist the knife (this sometimes takes a little bit of strength). Work the blade as close to the top of the shell as possible, and run it from the hinge around the shell to the other side of the hinge, being careful not to break the shell. When the top and bottom shells are separated, open the oyster. Run the knife along the top of the shell to cut off any remaining meat. Now you want to check the oyster for any grit, such as sand or mud or even shell. You can cut the meat off of the bottom shell to make eating easier.

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