Give 'Em Shell

Oyster shells make new homes at the Oyster Recovery Project

You might think that oyster shells are merely for delivering briny bivalves from platter to mouth, after which they're meant for the trash.

The Oyster Recovery Partnership intends to change your mind.

The pioneering organization works from the Chesapeake Bay, where it hopes to replenish the body of water's bivalves. The group's Shell Recycling Alliance partners with restaurants throughout the mid-Atlantic to collect discarded shells from raw bars and dinner plates. The shells then become homes for tiny oyster spats, aka fledgling oysters.

At Baltimore's Woodberry Kitchen, chef Spike Gjerde serve local oysters in a variety of ways: on the half shell and gently charred from a stint in the wood-fired oven. Then he fills five-gallon barrels with the shells so they're easy to pick up. Hank's Oyster Bar in Washington, D.C., donates 2,000 shells a month, contributing to the 7 million oysters that the Alliance adds to the Chesapeake each year, including those at oyster sanctuaries.

Oyster fans in the area can dine out at restaurants that support the Bay. For those of us who live elsewhere, there are plenty of other ways to enjoy oyster season.

To explore the oyster possibilities, take our Facebook quiz to unearth your ideal oyster experience.