• edible alive and raw.
  • live oysters should be used within 7-10 days from collection.
  • do not store oysters in water or airtight container, they can suffocate and die.
  • to cook, boil or steam for 3-5 minutes after shells have opened. Do not eat any oysters that failed to open
  • look for oysters at low tide, attached to rocks or washed ashore.
  • varieties in the Pacific Northwest are Pacific oyster (Crassostrea gigas) and Olympia oyster (Ostrea lurida).
  • warning: may be be toxic (paralytic shelfish poisoning) if area is affected by a toxic algal bloom. Blooms cannot be detected by observation, check the current status of your area with government fishery. One oyster (cooked or raw) could be fatal in as little as 2 hours, alcohol consumption accelerates the effects. Induce vomiting and seek immediate medical attention if the following symptoms occur within 2 hours of eating: nausea, diarrhea, abdominal pain, tingling or burning lips, tongue, face, and impairment of breathing/moving.
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Field Notes
When visiting an area with oysters, I will generally take one large oyster back with me for the dinner pot, and boil the entire oyster in its shell for ~15 minutes, being too lazy to shuck it. Be warned that roasting whole oysters directly over an open flame can result in the shell exploding and sending sharp fragments flying. The danger of PSP poisoning is always in the back of my mind when eating shellfish, especially when I haven't checked the status of the area beforehand. (You can check either online or with a phone call in BC). Oysters are relatively safe compared to clams and mussels. In most the extreme recoded case, a single oyster was found to contain just enough toxin to kill someone of my size. One strategy is to experiment with eating a small amount of oyster on the first day to check for signs of the PSP toxin, and increase consumption gradually. Don't use that strategy with butterclams and (especially) mussels, though - even a small amount can contain dangerous levels of toxin.