How to Clean, Prepare & Cook Oysters


Live oysters provide the optimum freshness, flavor and texture when compared to frozen varieties. They must be cooked properly to avoid food-borne illness. Oysters contain the vibrio bacteria, which results in nausea, fevers and diarrhea. Preparing and cooking the oyster meat thoroughly kills the bacteria and renders the oyster safe to eat. Oysters only take a short time to prepare and cook and cooking often improves the flavor of this shellfish.

Things You'll Need

  • Vegetable brush
  • Pot with lid
  • Slotted spoon
  • Inspect the oysters prior to cooking. Dispose of any that have open shells.

  • Rinse any dirt from the shells of the remaining oysters in cold, running water. Scrub the shells with a stiff vegetable brush to remove all the dirt.

  • Fill a pot with 2 inches of water. Bring the water to a boil.

  • Set the oysters inside the water in a single layer. Place a lid on the pot and simmer the oysters until they open, approximately 10 minutes. Cook for an additional four to five minutes after the shells have opened.

  • Remove the oysters from the water with a slotted spoon. Discard any oysters that did not open during the cooking process.

Tips & Warnings

  • Serve the cooked oysters with melted butter. Alternatively, add a few drops of lemon juice to the butter and either pour it over the oysters or serve it on the side.
  • Shuck the oysters prior to cooking by inserting an oyster knife between the shell and levering it open. Cut the oyster meat from the shell then boil the meat for three minutes or until the edges begin to curl.
  • Do not eat raw oysters, as these are more likely to contain illness-causing bacteria.

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