Do you know that there are over 200 species of oysters worldwide? At first glance, many of them may look similar, but they can vary widely in size, texture, and of course, taste. Oysters are greatly influenced by salinity, currents, phytoplankton, water temperature, the sea bed, minerals from the surrounding land, and how long they’re grown before harvesting.
Let us start first with the difference between oysters and clams.
The difference between oysters and clams is that oysters have a rough shell and many times a pearl inside, whereas clams have a smooth shell and can only be used to eat. Next, oysters come from the Ostreidae family, while clams come from a variety of families, but we most commonly eat from the Mercenaria family of clams. In terms of taste, clams and oysters often have similar tasting notes, especially depending on where they’re harvested, oysters are known to have more complex profiles, often being described as creamy, fruity. On the other hand, clams are generally more true to the ocean, with notes of seaweed, brine, and pleasant minerality.
The next question that we shall address is what is the difference between wild oysters and farmed oysters?
Wild oysters are in their natural habitat from start to finish, usually clumped together in a “clutch,” they grow slower, and their size and shape are inconsistent. They are prone to external predators such as starfish and rays. Usually, they have hard shells and are full of meat and flavor.
Farmed oysters, regardless of the method, are grown in the same waters as wild are, with the main difference being that they are protected from predators, barnacles, dirt, and grit. Though “farmed”, they are in their natural environment. They are not artificially fed or given hormones or antibiotics of any kind. Farmed oysters are wild oysters, just a little pampered. They grow faster with consistent shape and size. And in today’s time, oysters can be found on a restaurant's menu all year round, as most oysters are now farmed in temperature-monitored and toxin-free waters, rather than harvested in wild waters where algae can bloom.
Are oysters good for health?
Oysters are good for health, a standard 3.5 ounce serving of oysters contains several valuable minerals, almost as much protein as an egg, and low calories. They are an excellent source of zinc, calcium, and selenium, as well as vitamins A and B12. Check out the detailed health benefits of oysters here.
How to Shuck Oysters?
With a shucking knife and glove, place your oyster on one half of a clean towel and fold the other half to almost completely cover the oyster, leaving the hinge exposed.
Insert the tip of the oyster knife into the hinge of the oyster.
With gentle pressure, wiggle the knife into the shell and bring the knife towards yourself, keeping the knife along the top of the shell, unhinging the oyster's shell and abductor muscles.
Once the top shell is unhinged, scrape the meat that's attached to the inside of the top shell back into the bottom shell where the rest of the oyster's meat sits.
Discard the top shell to the side.
In one swooping motion, run your knife along the bottom part of the shell under the oyster's meat to detach it, then flip the oyster so the smooth part of the meat comes up to the top.
Oyster is now ready to cook or eat.
If you are looking for the best fresh oysters and clams in the United States, look no further than Washington State Seafood!