Oysters - those bivalve mollusks that are loved and considered a delicacy by some folks, while hated by others. Nutritionally speaking, they're rich in protein and an excellent source of iron, calcium, zinc, selenium, and vitamins A and B12. Oysters have a shelf life of up to four weeks, which is not the case with most shellfish. But you'll want to eat them as fresh as possible because their taste will change and become unpleasant as they age.
You've probably noticed that some oysters look (and taste) pretty different from others. This is because there are five species and over a hundred varieties. The species are Kumamoto, European Flat, Atlantic, Pacific (or Japanese Oyster) and Olympia. For example, Kumamoto oysters are small with round pale shells. While Atlantic oysters are larger and resemble a tear drop shape. The European oysters are straight, large and have fine ridges and Pacific oysters are small with wavy casings. Olympia oysters possess an iridescent coloring and a smoother shell. As well as different species, they're are different types of oysters, with some not consumed by humans. The pearl oysters belong to the pteriidae family, while the edible oysters are part of the ostreidae family. The latter don't usually produce a pearl, but you may just be lucky enough to find a little one here and there.
Oysters are also very good for our environment. They are filterers and each individual oyster can filter about 40 gallons of water per day and aid in keeping the water clean. As far as eating oysters, you've probably heard that it's best to eat them in months that contain the letter R. The reason for this is that the water in the winter months (which all contain the letter R) is extremely cold and oysters thrive in it. In the summer, they can have a very watery and faint taste because they are spawning.
You may be craving oysters after reading this. Before you run out to your seafood store to buy some, make sure you have the proper shucking tools that you'll need. Check out these essentials from the Cooking District store to complete your collection.
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