How to Shuck an Oyster

At Uncle Pat Oysters we are often asked what is the best way to open (shuck) an oyster. We charge an extra 50c for this service, and when you consider the cost of doctors consultation charges and stitches, 50c an oyster is a bargain.

Be that as it may, the time will come when you want to learn to shuck your own oyster, so I have put together a little tutorial going through the various steps. We cultivate predominantly Pacific Oysters in this country, so we will demonstrate with this type, but all oysters have basically the same layout.

STEP 1 – Position the Oyster correctly.


The oyster can be opened from any angle, but the best and safest positioning is on a solid surface, opened from the hinge (pointed) side. This is often referred to as the nose. Coastal oysters may not be as uniform in shape, but if you look carefully, you will find the hinge. The reason that we open on a solid surface and not held in our hand (like some show-offs), is that if the oyster knife slips it merely hits the surface and doesn’t pierce our left hand. And yes I have done this.

An oyster shell is made up of two parts, a cupped round bottom in which the meat resides and a flat lid. The objective of opening an oyster is to remove the lid and leave the meat in the cupped part, ie the “half-shell”.

The best implement to shuck an oyster is a strong, curved blade, oyster knife, however any strong knife, screw-driver etc. can be used.

STEP 2 – Insert the blade in the hinge.


Push the blade into the hinge, twisting it as it goes in. As you feel the hinge break, use the blade as a lever and lift the shell up. Be careful at this stage not to push the blade into the meat as this will damage it. Now lift and hold the oyster in this exposed position.

STEP 4 – Cut the top shell from the oyster meat.


Now, with a cutting, sideways action, sever the muscle from the shell, being careful once again, not to pierce the meat. The oyster should now be thoroughly rinsed in clean seawater, to remove any chips of shell.

Repeat this procedure 2000 – 3000 times and maybe you can match what our top oyster shucks can achieve in a typical working day.

And this is what it should now look like. ENJOY !



4 Responses

  1. wow
    that’s nasty
    how do people eat those things?

    Maybe with a little ketchup… 🙂

  2. Normally with some lemon juice and black pepper. Delicious, and at this time of the year, by the hundreds of thousands.

  3. I’m known for putting some horrid things in my face. I’m trying not to judge.

    I was born and raised so far from the coast, avoiding “fresh” seafood is likely a survival instinct.

  4. […] a look at this blog entry. It’s a simple tutorial on how to shuck (open) an oyster with some photographs to […]

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