3 tips to help choose where to buy oysters in the shell

March 30, 2021 at 7:00 AM
Knowing where to buy oysters in the shell is just half the battle! But we're here to help.

If you’ve never tried oysters but don’t know where to start, we understand. Eating and preparing oysters is its own thing. And figuring out where to buy oysters in the shell is only half the battle. But, luckily, you came to the right place.

At Tommy’s Seafood Inc, we’ve been capturing and selling shellfish for forty years. And, using our innovative freezing technique, the freshness of our seafood selection is unrivaled. Whether you’re a restaurant or individual, we’ve got you covered.

Here are 3 tips for before and after choosing where to buy oysters in the shell.

1. Native vs. rock oysters

When deciding where to buy oysters in the shell, it’s important to understand there are essentially two kinds of oysters: native oysters and rock oysters.

Rock oysters grow the fastest. They’re born in hatcheries before being put out to sea. And, make no mistake about it, they’ve revolutionized seafood harvesting. Rock oysters are typically more abundant, so they’re often cheaper.

As a general rule of thumb, native oysters are only in season during months with the letter ‘r’ (September to April). And, generally, anticipate that they’ll be approximately three times more expensive than rock oysters.

So, whether you’re a restaurant or a single household, budget appropriately for which kind of oyster you want. And, in regards to taste, there is a difference. The most noticeable being native oysters taste more minerally, nutty, briny and savory.

Also, when considering actual cooking, rock oysters don’t get as creamy as native oysters. Lastly, there is a key distinction you need to be aware of. Rock oysters can be stored longer than natives. Rock oysters can last between 5 to 7 days. Natives go bad in just a few.

2. Storing your oysters

After figuring out (or, ideally, before) where to buy oysters in the shell, you need to understand storage. This is critical to enjoying them. Oysters should be stored and kept at anywhere from 33 to 40 degrees in a damp, cold environment.

Depending on what’s available, you can also use a bowl with a damp towel for storage. Just ensure they’re arranged neatly and flatly. This prevents their briny liquid from draining. However, there are still a few key things you need to know.

Firstly, if stored properly, they generally live for 5 to 7 days. But they’re much better enjoyed ASAP. Also, if an oyster doesn’t close when you press its shell, it’s likely dead and it should be disposed of.

And don’t store oysters in melted ice water or any other kind of standing water. And never store oysters in air sealed containers, like plastic bags.

3. Raw vs. poached vs. cooked

After figuring out where to buy oysters in the shell, there are basically three schools of thought when serving them. Oysters are often served raw on a half-shell with lemon, tabasco, or shallot vinaigrette. They have a naturally briney, sodium-rich flavor. So choose your sauce accordingly.

If you don’t want them raw, they can also be poached. Usually a mild pasta sauce is perfect for this. Or, for the more extreme, you can cook them. It’s advisable to choose bigger oysters with more meat. Cream and butter are perfect complements.

If you insist on cooking them, we recommend baking them with an herby, butter-based sauce and breadcrumbs before grilling them.

Contact us now to start your oyster journey!

Whether you’re an individual person or a restaurant, Tommy’s Seafood Inc, is the premier supplier for all your oyster needs. And, now that you know the basics, contact us to get started! With Tommy’s Seafood, the world is your oyster.