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How to Shuck an Oyster

Allagash Oyster Shucking

Facing down a whole oyster can be daunting. The thin hinge. The craggy shell. The foreboding, rock-like inanimate-ness. We understand.

However hard the process of shucking appears, the right technique and some hands-on experience will have you opening fresh oysters in no time. The steps below, and visual aids, will help you get your first oysters open.

1: First, clean your oyster. A quick scrub with a damp sponge or towel should do.

Allagash Oyster Shucking

2: The proper tools are essential. You need something to give you purchase—grip. To achieve this, get a dish towel, glove or even an oven mitt. Once you have that, you need an oyster knife. This one is non-negotiable. If you want to cleanly and properly open an oyster, you need the right knife. The shape of the handle and strength of the blade are essential to popping the strong connective tissue that keeps an oyster locked shut.

Allagash Oyster Shucking

3: Holding your oyster with the towel, angle the oyster away from you and put the tip of the knife to the back of the oyster’s hinge. The hinge of the oyster is where the oblong shape comes to something resembling a point.

Allagash Oyster Shucking

4: This step is the dealmaker. You want to apply pressure directly into the oyster’s hinge with the tip of the blade while wiggling the knife (think of jiggling your keys in a sticky lock). This motion will eventually get the knife far enough into the oyster to sever the adductor muscle, which holds the oyster shut. In the image below, you can see where the muscle once connected to the top shell.

Allagash Oyster Shucking

5: To cut the adductor, swipe the knife across the top of the shell, you’ll feel the top of the shell pop up as soon as you sever it.

Allagash Oyster Shucking

6: Lift the upper shell off (discard) and remove any bits of shell that may have fallen into the lower shell. Now, swipe the knife’s blade beneath the oyster—near the adductor muscle—to loosen the rest of the oyster from the bottom shell. This last step will help the oyster slide easily off the shell and into the recipient’s waiting mouth.

TIP: Go slow and try not mangle the oyster for a nicer final product.

Allagash Oyster blog

7: Enjoy! A squeeze of lemon, a dollop of cocktail sauce, or a spritz of mignonette are all fine pairs. Of course, you can just enjoy your oyster without garnish and relish the ocean’s hard work. We like to pair oysters with our Tripel. The beer’s notes of honey and passion fruit contrast nicely with the oyster’s savory brininess.

Now that you know how to pop open an oyster, our last blog will talk about some specific oysters we love, and beers we love to pair them with.


Below, you can find a one-page shucking guide for your printing pleasure.

Allagash oyster shucking guide

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