The Effortless Way To Open Fresh Oysters Without Sacrificing Texture

A delicacy since ancient times, oysters are a tasty treat for those that appreciate their delicate and briny goodness. You can enjoy them raw on the half shell, as is or with just a squeeze of lemon juice or a splash of mignonette. Oysters are also delicious when baked, roasted, grilled, and smoked, or when paired with some bubbly or incorporated in a martini. These days, with the increased availability of oyster home delivery services, they're easier than ever to enjoy. The only downside? You have to know how to shuck them.

The standard way to open fresh oysters is to use an oyster knife. There are various techniques but they all more or less involve having a good grip, getting the point of the knife into the shell, and then getting the shell to open so you can get at the oyster inside. It's tricky work that can even be dangerous — and why cut-resistant oyster shucking gloves are sometimes recommended (via USA Today). It's something that comes easier with practice, but for some, it's practice they can happily skip. Luckily, there's another way to open oysters that involves far less effort.

Forget shucking and try this technique instead

According to Ryan Croxton, fourth-generation oyster farmer and owner of Rappahannock Oyster Company, and someone who know a thing or two about oysters, "Freezing and thawing is the easiest hands-off method of opening oysters" (via Food & Wine), noting that he discovered the technique from the natural freezing and thawing cycles that occur on their farm when oysters get caught in a low tide and then a freezing cold. As Croxton explains, "the second the oyster is no longer alive, it lets go of the shell." Freezing kills the oyster, and once it thaws, the shell opens.

In practical terms, that means putting your fresh oysters still in the shell in the freezer and letting them freeze. Before doing so, it's best to check if they are still alive, by giving the shells a light tap, and throwing out any whose shells don't tighten or make any movement, Boss Oysters recommends. When you're ready to enjoy your oysters, move them from the freezer to the fridge and wait for them to thaw out. The best part, according to Croxton, is "the texture will come back, and it's not going to change the flavor." So the next time you need to open fresh oysters, try using your freezer instead.