How to Boil Oysters

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Things You'll Need

  • Oysters

  • Small pot

  • Water or broth

  • Melted butter or hot sauce (optional)

  • Hand towel

  • Oyster knife

  • Bowl or plate

Oysters have a soft flesh that can taste sweet, salty or even melon-like, depending on where they are harvested. These expensive treats can be eaten in various ways: raw, boiled, steamed, baked, fried, stewed, pickled, or roasted. Because raw oysters may contain dangerous bacteria, many people opt to boil their oysters to enjoy this seafood delicacy.

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Step 1

Purchase oysters with closed shells. If you find an oyster with an open shell, tap on the shell a couple times to see whether the shell closes. If the shell remains open, the oyster is dead and shouldn't be consumed. Throw away dead oysters.

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Step 2

Fill a small pot with water or broth until it is about two-thirds full. (It is important to use a smaller pot because a larger pot may prevent all the oysters from cooking properly.)

Step 3

Bring the liquid to a rolling boil, and drop the oysters into the pot. Boil for three to five minutes after the oyster shells open.

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Step 4

Drain the oysters in a colander and rinse with cool water to prevent more cooking. Throw away any oysters that did not open during cooking.

Step 5

Serve the oysters plain or with melted butter or hot sauce.

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Step 6

Follow Step 1 above to discard dead oysters.

Step 7

Place a fresh oyster in a towel, and grab it with the palm of your hand. With your other hand, pry open the shell with an oyster knife. (See References for more information.)

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Step 8

Insert the tip of the knife between the shell halves next to the oyster's hinge. Wiggle and twist the knife until the oyster breaks open.

Step 9

Cut the oyster from the top shell, and place it in a bowl or on a plate. Then repeat with the bottom shell.

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Step 10

Fill a small pot with water or broth until it is two-thirds full. Bring the liquid to a rolling boil, and drop the oysters into the pot. Boil for at least three minutes. The ends of the oysters will curl once the oysters are fully cooked.

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Step 11

Remove the pot from heat once the oyster edges have curled. Drain the oysters in a colander, and rinse with cool water to prevent further cooking.

Step 12

Serve the boiled oysters plain or with melted butter or hot sauce.

Tip

Cook your live oysters as soon as possible. Although oysters have a shelf life of about a week, the taste of their meat will change as they age. Eat your oysters as soon as possible for the freshest taste.

To maximize their shelf life, store your oysters in the refrigerator. Do not store them in water, and do not place them in the freezer.

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references & resources