How to Shuck Oysters

I took a day trip to Tomales Bay Oyster Company to picnic with some of the biggest oysters I have ever seen!

I love love love oysters, so taking a day trip to Tomales Bay to have a picnic and shuck my own oysters sounded like heaven. Tomales Bay Oyster Company provides the oysters, shucking knives, gloves, lemons, limes, and cocktail sauce, so we packed a picnic blanket, some snacks and some wine!tomalas-bay-oyster-co-3

These “medium” oysters were some of the hugest oysters I have every seen!! One problem, I had literally no idea how to shuck oysters. Even though I have always loved oysters, shucking them myself always seemed too intimidating to try.   Luckily some quick research and a little of trial and error allowed us to open and enjoy all 24 of our oysters. Here are some of the tips and tricks I picked up along the way.tomalas-bay-oyster-co-7

First thing, if you are new to shucking oysters, you definitely definitely need a towel or an oyster shucking glove to protect your hand. The knife will slip and you will most likely stab yourself.  This maybe happened to me or Steve. It was Steve. Following the minor knife incident we wisely bought the $5 glove. Now on to the actual oyster shucking process.

Take a look at your oyster. There is one side that has a flatter top, and the other side should be rounded with a cute little oyster belly.  Place the oyster belly side down on a towel, and hold the oyster steady with your protected hand with the hinge side pointing out.  OK now the hard part. Insert the tip oyster knife into the hinge of they oyster. What you are looking for is not brute force, you have to kind of wiggle around and try different angles until you can feel some give. This is your knife finding purchase between the top and bottom shells. That’s when you exert some pressure, and the knife will slide in. Whew hard part over.


Turn the knife sideways to separate the top and the bottom shells. Take the knife out to wipe off any mud that might have been stuck in the hinge.  Even though the hinge is broken, there is still a muscle attaching the top shell to the oyster. Keep your knife flat and as close to the top shell as possible.  Run your knife along the top of the shell to remove the top shell.


You can throw away that useless top shell immediately and direct your attention to your fresh oyster in the bottom shell. Take a look at the oyster, it should look clean and fresh with lots of clear liquid around it. This liquid is called the liquor.  Be careful not to tip the oyster and spill the liquor because it is the best part of freshly shucked oysters.  Finally slide your knife under the oyster to separate it from the bottom shell. This way you will be able to tip the oyster and all that delicious liquor right into your mouth.


I added a squeeze of lemon, and a little dab of cocktail sauce.  While we were feasting on these massive oysters we had a stunning view of the bay.


In summary, shucking your own oysters need not be scary! And if you are in Northern California I definitely recommend spending a day at the Tomales Bay Oyster Company!

Happy Shucking!