With any type of shellfish that you purchase and that you’re not going to consume straight away, it’s really important that you store it correctly. This will ensure that the shellfish is safe to consume once the time comes. With oysters, it’s particularly important that you store them safely.
Fresh oysters need to be stored in the refrigerator on a flat tray, covered with a damp cloth or tea towel, and they need to be kept moist. You can store fresh oysters for around five to seven days in the refrigerator. It’s also important not to store the oysters on ice or in fresh water.
However, it is important to use the correct process when storing oysters in the fridge. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to store fresh oysters.
How To Store Fresh Oysters In The Refrigerator
The following method of storing fresh oysters in the refrigerator is used by top restaurants, oyster bars, and hotels and ensures that the oysters stay fresh.
- Once you’ve purchased your oysters and have taken them home, open the box and check that all the oysters have closed and unbroken shells.
- If any of the oyster shells are slightly open, tap them firmly on the kitchen bench. This should make the shell close up. If the shell closes, it’s fine to store the oyster. However, if the shell does not close, it means that the oyster is not fresh and should be discarded. You should also discard any oysters that have broken or cracked shells.
- Wash the oyster shells under cold running water with a stiff brush.
- Once washed, place the oyster shells on a flat tray with the cup side down. When you do this, the seawater that is stored in the shell should stay inside the cup. This is commonly referred to as the oyster’s liquor. This will keep the oyster fresh even if the shell opens slightly while the oyster is being stored in the refrigerator.
- Cover the oysters with a damp cloth or tea towel. It’s important to make sure that the cloth remains damp during the entire storage period.
- You should place the oyster tray in the coldest part of the refrigerator. The best temperature to keep your unshucked oysters fresh is between 40 to 45 degrees Fahrenheit (4 to 7 degrees Celsius). Usually, you’ll find that the bottom of the fridge is the coldest.
- When you’re ready to consume the oysters, take them out of the refrigerator and check again to see whether all the shells are closed. If any are partially open, tap them firmly on the bench. If the shell closes, the oyster is still fresh and safe to consume. If the shell does not close, the oyster should be discarded.
Fresh oysters should be consumed within around 5 to 7 days from buying them, but their quality will decrease over time. The fresher the oyster, the better it will taste. You should never store live, fresh oysters in sealed containers or in water. Oysters that are exposed to fresh water, even melted ice, will try to feed and will die as they can’t handle fresh water. On the other hand, if you keep live oysters in a sealed container, they will be unable to breathe.
Another way to tell if the oysters are still alive is to knock two shells together. If one of the shells sounds hollow, then the oyster inside it is dead. Knocking together, the shells of two live oysters should sound like knocking two rocks together.
How To Store Shucked Oysters
If you plan on consuming the oysters over several days or want them prepped for a specific recipe, you might consider shucking them. When you shuck them, you should make sure that you keep the oyster liquor to store the oysters in.
Once shucked, pop the oysters into a sealed container with the reserved liquor. Doing this means that you can store the oysters in the refrigerator for another two to three days. Be aware that oysters will absorb any strong flavors of other foods stored in the fridge. That’s precisely why they need to be stored in a sealed or airtight container.
If you’ve cooked your oysters but have some left over, these can be stored in the refrigerator for up to three days.
Can You Store Oysters In The Freezer?
Oysters can be stored in the freezer for up to 6 months, but you should shuck them first. After you shuck them, place them in freezer bags to store them in the freezer. You can also rinse the oysters first to remove any remaining sand, grit, or shell.
It’s not a good idea to eat them raw once they’ve been defrosted because they will have an entirely different texture and flavor. The frozen oyster should be cooked in stews or casseroles once they’ve been defrosted.
While you can freeze cooked oysters for up to three months, be aware that their texture and flavor may not be the same as when you first cooked them.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the difference between closed and open oysters?
Closed oysters are still alive and fresh. The reason for this is that the oyster inside the shell will keep the bivalves closed in order to keep the seawater inside the shell. When an oyster shell is open, it means that the oyster has died and can’t keep the bivalves closed anymore.
How do you store cooked oysters?
Place the cooked oysters in an airtight container within around 2 hours of them being cooked. You can store these in the refrigerator for around four days. Alternatively, you can freeze the cooked oysters for around three months. However, be prepared that their taste and texture will not be the same as when you first cooked them.
How long can oysters live out of water?
To be on the safe side, you should not keep your oysters for more than a week in the refrigerator.
What is the ideal temperature for storing oysters?
Live oysters in their closed shells should be stored at temperatures of between 40 and 45 degrees Fahrenheit (4 to 7 degrees Celsius). On the other hand, shucked oysters should be stored at temperatures of between 32 and 38 degrees Fahrenheit (0 to 3 degrees Celsius).
Can you eat oysters raw after they’ve been frozen?
It’s recommended that you don’t eat your oysters raw after they’ve been defrosted from the freezer. This is because the freezing will kill the oysters, making their texture much softer. Also, they will not taste as good as fresh oysters. You should use these defrosted oysters in your cooking, and they’re fine to add to stews and casseroles. You can also pan-fry them, and they’re delicious, coated in panko crumbs or a beer batter.
How do you defrost frozen oysters?
It’s best to defrost your frozen oyster in the refrigerator overnight. However, you can also defrost your oysters in cold water. Just place them in a plastic bag and submerge them in a bowl of cold water for a few hours.