Choosing Your Oysters

Looking to buy oysters, but not sure where to start? Hopefully this guide will help! To get started: Are you going to eat the oysters raw, cooked, ...or both?

I'm gonna cook them all

Cooked oysters are mighty tasty. Do you need shells to prepare or present the oysters?

No shells required: buy shucked oysters! They're super versatile, easy to freeze, and easy to keep in your fridge. You can prepare them any way you like... fried, in a stew, wrapped in bacon and grilled, in a sandwich, etc. You can also put them in a buttered cast iron muffin tin, top with your preferred topping, and roast on a grill or in an oven. Find recipes for shucked oysters here.
Shell, yes: wanna cook your oysters the way your caveman ancestors did? Get the grillers. If you end up putting them in an oven instead of over a fire, just call it progress. Find instructions & recipes here.
Maybe? Go for the grillers for max versatility.. you can always shuck them if you decide you don't need the shells.

If you're planning on making these horseradish cheddar grilled oysters, you'll need some shells.

I'm gonna grill em & chill em

Any oyster can be cooked. You'll get a lot more bang for your shuck cooking 3" Pacifics than you will cooking 1/2" Olympias, but still. You can cook any oyster, and it will be delicious.

Not every oyster should be eaten raw. You *can* technically eat an oyster raw out of a jar, but you probably shouldn't. If you want to eat an oyster raw, make sure it's alive.

So, if you're looking to eat them both raw and cooked, you've got a couple options: 

1. Get a bag of oysters in the shell, such as this handy 10 dz bag, and eat some raw while you're stoking your fire to grill the rest.

2. Or get a 3 dz bag to eat raw, and two pints of shucked to cook.

3. If you're going really big, get a 10 dz bag to eat raw AND a half gallon of shucked for cooking.

Read below for help choosing which variety of oyster to buy for eating raw...

hama hama oysters photographed by David Malosh

How do you like your oysters? RAW RAW RAW

Raw oysters love to party, but choosing which ones to invite into your home can be a bit intimidating. The oysters we sell differ from one another in species, growing method, and growing location:

Species: Most of the oysters we sell are Pacific species (except for the Olympia and the Hamamoto).
Growing Method: We offer two growing methods: beach grown and tumbled.
Growing Location: On the map below, you can see we harvest oysters from three main locations: North Puget Sound (Discovery Bay & Skunk Island), mid-Hood Canal (Hama Hama), and South Puget Sound (Hammersley & Eld Inlets)

To get started: What's important to you in a raw oyster experience?

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Salt is a tricky one, because it's so seasonal. All oysters are usually saltier in the fall, winter, and early spring than they are in the late spring and early summer.

In general though, oysters from our northern beaches are saltiest, followed by our Hood Canal oysters, followed by the south sound oysters. This is mainly because the northern farms and Hood Canal have less food (algae) than the South Puget Sound, so the oysters tend to be a bit skinnier.

In descending saltiness:

Northern Beaches: Disco Hama, Summerstone, Fjordlux
Hood Canal: Blue Pool, Hama Hama
South Puget Sound: Eld Inlets, Calm Cove, Hendersons, Pickerings. These are sometimes sold as our "partner farmer" oyster, and there's usually one of these varieties in the farm sampler.

Keep in mind: everything from the weather to the genetics of the oyster in question can influence saltiness, so take it with a grain of salt! ;)

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In general: all of the oysters we sell online are between 2.5 and 3 inches long, except the olympias, which are about the size of a half dollar, and the grillers, which are between 3 and 4 inches long.

Whether you get a 2.5" oyster or a 3" oyster will depend on what time of year it is, mostly. When the oysters are skinny, we tend to harvest and sell a slightly larger shell size. When the oysters are really plump, we sell a smaller shell size. 

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Get Blue Pools. They're tumbled so it's easy to distinguish top from bottom, and the shells are sturdy and unlikely to fall apart in your hands. 

If you're worried about how to shuck, check out our instructions, and add a knife and a pair of gloves to your order because having the right tools helps immensely. We'll also send paper instructions in the box.

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If you wanna geek out on oyster flavor, we recommend the farm sampler, which typically contains at least two growing methods (tumbled vs beach grown) and two growing regions (hood canal, north puget sound, south puget sound, etc).

If you suspect you're descended from Poseidon and can't get enough umami or seaweed flavor, skip the sampler and just get olympias or something from the South Puget Sound (elds, sea cows, hendersons, pickerings, etc).

If you like oysters mild and fruity, get the hama hamas or something from the north sound (summerstones or fjordlux come to mind).

Read our blog article about all the things that influence oyster flavor. And, if you're curious to learn more about a specific oyster variety, you can always check out flavor profiles

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