How to Shuck an Oyster

Along with the oysters, you will also need a short knife or another thin-edged instrument. An actual oyster knife is great, which is nice because it has a guard around the blade to keep your hand from slipping, but a screwdriver (flat head, not Philips!) and even a table knife work as well. You want something with a thin edge that you can work between the shells but that is also strong enough to use to pry open the shells. Most people will also want something with which to hold the oyster (those shells can get sharp). A rag or kitchen towel or oven mitt are all good options.

1. Insert the Knife Between the Shells & Twist

Hold the oyster flat side up, cupped side down. Now look for the hinge – that point where the shells are joined in a more serious way that just being held together by the muscle that is the oyster. Some people jab the knife in right at the hinge (as pictured here). It's often easier to insert the knife between the shells near the hinge (see the next step).

Note: You may prefer to set the oyster on a flat working surface, hold it steady, and insert the knife. Try both ways and see which way feels easier, safer, or more natural to you.

Having noticed where the hinge is located will now come in handy. Whether you inserted the knife at the hinge or near it, get the knife into the hinge and "pop" it open by twisting the knife blade. Sometimes just twisting the knife after you put it in between the shells will do it, other oysters are more stubborn and you'll need to work the knife fairly far in to be able to angle the knife (or screwdriver) to be able to get enough leverage to "pop" that hinge.

Note: Keep it as flat as possible to avoid spilling out too much of the oyster liquor inside.

2.  Slide the Knife Between the Shells

Once you've popped the hinge open, slide the knife between the shells, keeping it along the bottom of the top shell—you don't want to mangle the oyster! Most of this sliding will be very easy, but the point where the oyster is attached to the top shell will provide some resistance you'll need to cut through.

3.  Open It Up!

You've now separated the two shells that house the oyster. Remove the top shell (if there is a lot of meat attached to it, use the knife to cut (or, really, scrape) it off. If you want to be kind to those who will be eating the oysters, use the shucking knife or a sharp paring knife to cut along the bottom shell to make sure the oyster is free and clear of that shell too. Through all of this, try to keep as much of the liquid (oyster liquor) in the shell as possible. It's delicious.

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