How to Buy Oysters
Oyster shopping online has become wide spread over the past few years. Oyster hatcheries from all over North America now offer their delightful delicacies online directly to the general public. This is great news for oyster loving connoisseurs as now every variety of oyster is just a click away. Whether you prefer Malpeque, Blue Point, Skookum or Tatamagouche you can find them available for purchase online.
If you ask any true oyster lover where to buy oysters I'm sure they will tell you online. Beyond the wide selection of oysters available online there are several other serious advantages to buying oysters online. Most importantly, when you buy oysters directly from the growers you are ensuring your oysters are the highest quality and freshest available.
When you buy oysters at a local store or restaurant they have already been on a long journey and switched hands several times. First the grower ships them to the distributor which can take up to 2 days. Then the distributor takes another couple of days to deliver the oysters to their network of store and restaurant clients. From there it can take a few days to sell the oysters to a consumer and hence the oysters' quality and freshness have degraded to a point of near spoilage. Some restaurants even try to pass off canned oyster as fresh. Thankfully, now you can buy fresh oysters and frozen shucked oysters online directly from the growers with next day delivery and knock out the middlemen and precious time from the equation altogether.
The first step to buying oysters online is choosing an oyster shop or grower. You will want to check out a few sites that carry your desired oyster variety and take the following variables into account.
Since oysters are perishable you should base the quantity you buy on how you intend to consume them in the immediate future. Whether you are eating them raw or in a recipe and how many people will be eating them.
When it comes to raw oysters in the shell, 6 - 12 oysters per person should do. Well formed shells make opening and eating much easier. If you don't have experience shucking oysters, you should buy an oyster shucker. (Note - when consuming raw oysters you should go by the "R-months" rule: September - April as this is the time when oysters are best raw)
If you plan on cooking your oysters, the quantity to buy is of course determined by the oyster recipes. When cooking oysters the "r-months" rule doesn't apply and any time of the year is perfect. The shape of the shell also doesn't matter when cooking oysters.
Before making a seafood purchase check the FAQ section on the grower's website for any questions you may have. If the answers to your questions aren't on the site contact the grower by phone or email to get your answers and ensure they are there to help you should other questions or issues with your shipment arise. Make sure the grower stands behind their oyster sales and will send a replacement should your oysters arrive spoiled for whatever reason. Growers or vendors who do not have a return policy should be avoided.
Oysters are perishable and as discussed above freshness is everything when it comes to oysters. Many growers let you choose the date you would like to have your oysters delivered so you can plan accordingly. The grower's distance from you can also make a huge difference when it comes to shipping charges. Lastly, be sure to check the carrier and transit time for your order to ensure they arrive at their very freshest.
Once you have taken all of the above aspects into account and you are ready to buy oysters make sure to record their delivery date so you are home and ready when they arrive. Your oysters will come in a wax coated card board box that is lined with insulating styrofoam. The oysters will be within the styrofoam along with a document that contains the location and date of harvesting as well as other details relating to your oysters.
Upon opening the box the next step is to examine your oysters. If a shell is open tap it and it should close promptly. If it doesn't close, it is dead and should be discarded. It is normal for an oyster or two to die in transit, even if they were harvested the day before. When you buy oysters online growers normally give you baker's dozen, with an extra oyster or two to cover any deaths. However if the whole lot is open that means something went wrong with your shipment and you should contact the grower immediately for a replacement.
When you buy oysters online you will also receive a handy preparation guide and cookbook. You can also find more seafood info on Affluent Tastes, including eating oysters, oyster recipes and oyster safety.