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how (and why) to Shuck an Oyster

There's nothing quite like savouring a fresh oyster straight from the sea. But getting that briny beauty out of its shell takes skill. Don't worry, though, we’re here to guide you through the art of oyster shucking.

The oyster shell keeps in all the goodness of fresh oysters. But to get to the little nuggets of deliciousness, they need to be taken out of their shells.

what the "Shuck" is going on?

Weird word? Yes!

 Who knows where the word “shuck” came from, but it's believed to have roots in early 19th-century American English. The word may have derived from the English word "shack," which means to shed or cast off, or from the Low German "schokken," meaning to shake or jolt, both of which can be seen as descriptive of the action involved in opening an oyster.

Over time, "shucking" became the term we use for opening the shells of oysters and similar shellfish to get to the meat inside. It’s not easy, but it’s worth it.

do I have to eat my oysters raw?

Absolutely not! While slurping down a fresh, raw oyster is a rite of passage for seafood lovers, it's not the only way to enjoy these briny treasures. Oysters can be cooked in a variety of delicious ways that'll make your taste buds sing. Think grilled oysters on the BBQ with a dash of whipped herb and garlic butter.

Gently cooking unlocks a new flavour profile, transforming the oyster experience. Eating oysters raw is a classic, but cooking them opens up a whole new sea of possibilities!

Learning how to shuck your own oysters opens up a world of taste and experience! And can make enjoying oysters more cost-effective.

what gear do i need to shuck my own oyesters?

Fancy giving shucking a go? You’ll need a few things to make it easy (and safe).

  • Oyster knife - This specialised knife is perfect for prying open shells. If you don’t have one, choose a knife with a short, thick blade.

  • Gloves—Oyster shells are sharp! Protect your hands. Buy a new pair of padded working or gardening gloves for holding the oyster, or at least a really thick old towel.

  • Flat surface - Working on a stable surface prevents slipping and sliding.

  • And fresh oysters! When buying oysters, look for tightly closed shells and a pleasant ocean aroma. This indicates freshness. Go for heavier oysters, too, as more weight means more tasty oyster liquor inside.

  • And, of course, get the freshest, most delicious oysters by buying directly from the farmer.

time to get Shucking

Alright, time for the fun part! Opening an oyster is a delicate operation. Follow these steps to shuck like a pro:

Shucking is more about technique than brute force. Practice makes perfect.


  • Place a folded towel on the bench.

  • Position the oyster with the hinge towards you on the towel.

  • Fold the back of the towel over the oyster's back and hold it firmly.


  • Using a screwing motion, insert the knife about 10mm into the upper right edge of the oyster, at about a 2 o’clock position.


  • Pick up the oyster in the towel.

  • Lever the knife handle downwards to pry the shells apart. Make sure you cut the abductor muscle, not the hinge.

  • Scrape the muscle from the top shell.

  • Gently remove the top shell, ensuring nothing sticks to it.


  • Cut the muscle on the underside, starting from the hinge end, to detach the oyster from the bottom shell.

with practice, you'll be shucking Oysters like a pro in no time!

But remember, there's no substitute for experience.

On our oyster farm tours, not only will we teach you how to shuck oysters, but you’ll be shucking and eating them straight out of the clean, blue sea at Scotts Landing.

Watch oysters plucked fresh from the sea, then shuck and slurp them down surrounded by breathtaking scenery. It's an authentic Kiwi experience that can't be beaten.