Everything You Need to Know About Buying Oysters

Oysters aren't just for happy hour. Impress your party guests with a fun oyster spread at home—but first, read a fishmonger's tips to make sure you're getting the best ones.
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pile of oyster bivalves

So you want to throw an oyster party? Do it! Before you start shopping and shucking, we asked Vinny Milburn, co-owner and fishmonger at Brooklyn’s Greenpoint Fish & Lobster Co., to tell us everything you need to know.

  1. Find a reputable seafood shop and look for the harvest tags, which include information on where and when the oysters were harvested. Most fishmongers will display tags in the oyster cases. If you don’t see the tags, ask for them. If the store doesn’t have them, shop elsewhere.
  2. Fresh oysters shouldn’t smell fishy, and their shells should snap closed when tapped.
  3. Buy four to six oysters per person. Some people will gobble a half dozen easy; others “don’t do raw.” It’s best to split the difference.
  4. Place oysters in a bowl, cover with a damp cloth, and stick them in the fridge. Stored properly, they’ll be OK to eat raw for about a week.
  5. Shuck oysters just before serving and eat them within an hour. Consider it your newest party trick!

Related: How to Throw An Awesome Oyster Party (Really!)

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