Raw oysters on the half-shell can add an elegant touch to any gathering. Oysters offer several nutritional benefits in addition to their alleged aphrodisiac properties. One cup of raw, wild eastern oysters provides 1,502 percent of your daily zinc, 804 percent of your daily vitamin B12, 552 percent of your daily copper, 226 percent of your daily selenium and 92 percent of your daily iron, according to SELFNutritionData. Eating a rotten oyster can leave you feeling ill, however, so make sure you care for and prepare your oysters safely.
Store your oysters in a cold, relatively dry environment. Do not freeze them or soak them in water. Ideally you should loosely cover the oysters with a damp towel and leave them in the refrigerator at a temperature of 35 to 40 degrees F. Refrigerate them for two to three days at most before eating them.
Remove the oysters from the refrigerator immediately before you are ready to use them. Sort through the oysters, and find any that are even slightly open. Separate these from the closed oysters. All of the closed oysters should be safe to eat.
Tap gently on the open oysters. Discard any that do not immediately close, as these are dead and no longer safe to eat. You may safely eat any oysters that close after a light tap.
Scrub the outside of the oysters thoroughly, then rinse them under cool, running water. This will remove any contaminants that you might otherwise have consumed when slurping the oyster out of its shell.
Shuck the oysters with an oyster-shucking knife rather than a typical kitchen knife; a knife that is not designed for shucking easily can slip and slice your hand open. Insert the shucking knife into the hinged end of the oyster, then turn it. This will partially open the oyster. Finish the process by slicing along the upper shell of the oyster with a small, sharp knife. This not only will separate the two halves of the shell but also cut the oyster away from the top half.
Place the oysters on a bed of ice after you shuck them and eat immediately.
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- Wear a thick glove on the hand you use to hold the oysters while you shuck them. This will protect your hand if either of the knives you use in the shucking process slips. It will also protect your hand from the oysters' sharp ridges.
Morgan O'Connor has been writing professionally since 2005. Her experience includes articles on various aspects of the health-insurance industry for health-care newsletters distributed to hospitals as well as articles on both international and domestic travel.
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