Oyster Season

I LOVE Oysters on the half shell. It is the time of year to go harvest oysters in my neck of the woods. Even though it is wicked cold, it is an activity I rarely miss. We can harvest oysters in the summer months in Massachusetts (a rule of thumb is you can only harvest them in months containing an "R"). We'll go out on a clear winter day and get a bucket of them-my dad always collects a bucket for Thanksgiving and Christmas- and then sit down and eat them.

Everyone dreams of finding a pearl in their oyster. I have only found one in my life and it was a misshaped blob-not jewelry material. The pearls you find on a necklace are from specially cultured oysters, not the run of the mill kind you find on the half shell or in Oysters Rockefeller. Imagine if you could culture oysters to have a cool sports car inside, the beds would be picked clean!

Most folks out on the oyster beds aren't in it for the pearls, they want to chow down on a delicious delicacy. You need to be careful though. Oysters can get you very sick if you get contaminated ones or if you are a person with liver disease, diabetes or any illness or medical condition that weakens the body’s immune system. Many commercially available oysters, such as
Gulf oysters (like the ones I had in Florida last week) are harvested and processed in a way that greatly reduces the risk of getting sick from eating raw oysters (FYI: I have NEVER gotten sick from eating oysters). They'll either freeze them, low heat pasteurize them or put in a high pressure chamber after cleaning to reduce bacterial content.

If you want to Be Oyster Aware, you'll make sure you are buying oysters that have been processed to reduce the risk of bacterial contamination. Most Gulf oysters are processed in such a fashion.

And, if you don't like oysters, HAVE A HOT DOG!

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