Feb 17, 2009: How to Shuck an Oyster: Hinge Method

Posted by Adam James on December 05, 2014 5 Comments
First, you need to know a little bit about oyster anatomy.
  • Oysters have a top, flat side and a bottom, cupped side.
  • An oyster has a narrow, hinged end and a wide, fluted end. In the photo below, the knife is stuck into the hinged end. This is pretty obvious.
  • The hinged end is the only place where the top and bottom shell are connected together. Otherwise, the two shells are held together by the oyster itself. Your goal is to sever the oyster muscle from the shells. This is easier to do if you know where to find the muscle. Here's a hint: When you hold the oyster with the cupped side down and the hinged end pointing towards you, the muscle is always on the right side of the oyster.


To shuck an oyster, hold it in a towel (as shown below) or in a gloved hand, with the hinged end pointed towards you. It's safest to set the oyster on a table. And since chances are pretty good that you aren't a competitive oyster shucker, know that speed doesn't matter. Your dinner guests can wait.  Also, be warned that alcohol + novice oyster shucker = bandaid. 1. Insert the knife into the oyster hinge, and gently work the knife back and forth until the hinge pops open. This takes finesse, not brute strength, but this is the dangerous part because people always try to out muscle the oyster. Be sure that you always point the knife away from your fingers/wrist/etc.


2. Next, wipe the blade clean on a towel, and slide the knife inside the oyster along the top shell to sever the top muscle.


3. Then remove the top shell, and sever the bottom muscle.


4. Inspect the oyster for bits of shell. And, if you're worried about presentation, flip the oyster over in its shell before serving. This also helps you verify that the oyster is truly free from its shell.

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Comments (5 Comments)

Posted by Oyster Shell Anatomy on December 05, 2014

[…] So, to hinge shuck an oyster, insert the knife into the hinge, turn the knife 90 degrees until the hinge pops open, slide the knife along the inside of the top shell to sever the top adductor muscle, remove the top shell, then slide the knife along the bottom shell to sever the bottom adductor muscle. Easy peasy. (Watch a video here and find pictures of this process here.) […]

Posted by Grilled Oysters on the Half-Shell | Welcome to the Camp 4 Blog on December 05, 2014

[…] whole oysters on grill grate (you will shuck – or open – later) over direct flame with hinges up.  Cook for 3 minutes or until you see liquid starting to escape from the […]

Posted by Ben Bloom on December 05, 2014

next time, I will try to proof my message. It is difficult to type at night. I hope to be back your way for some more oysters with my sister who lives in the bay area. Last time I was there, we drove out to Tamales Bay for some oysters. They were great too, but there was something very special about the Hama hamas.

Posted by Oyster Fan on December 05, 2014

Thanks Ben! Glad you liked the oysters, and I will be sure and pass the compliment along to Helena.

Posted by Ben B!loom on December 05, 2014

I am from Ashland Oregon. My wife and I were in Gig Harbour for a birthday party on February 20th. On the 21st, before heading back south, we drove over to your farm. I brought 4 dozen oysters back to Portland were shucked and dined with my father-in-law. It was the first time I had Hama Hamas, and I must say, it was an incredible experience. The oysters were perfect. I can’t wait to come back. Thank you. I also want to give a particular thanks to the woman who helped me with my oyster puchase. She was very helpful.

Thanks again. The oysters were the best!

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