Chesapeake oysters making their way back on menus

BY News Desk  December 24, 2013 at 1:22 PM EDT

oystersChefs in the Chesapeake Bay region are welcoming local oysters back on their menus. Photo by Flickr user Jules Morgan

If you live near the Chesapeake Bay and there are oysters are on your holiday party menu you may be in for a surprise. Your oysters may actually be local for the first time in a long while.

For years, finding Chesapeake Bay Oysters has been a challenge. Over-harvesting, disease and pollution hurt oyster beds in the bay and their population dwindled. In 1993, the Oyster Recovery Partnership, a public-private effort began working to bring the oysters back to the Chesapeake and local chefs are slowly seeing a difference in the oysters. “They’re very sweet,” Brian Stickel, corporate chef for Clyde’s Restaurant Group told NPR of the Chesapeake Bay oysters. “They’re creamy. It’s just very different than a northern oyster, which tends to have a higher salinity.”

Stickel told NPR he finds more and people asking for local oysters and Tim Sughrue, vice president of Congressional Seafood Co. Inc, said there are more than enough Chesapeake Bay oysters for area chefs to be able to put them on the menu.

So if you’re a home chef and want those sweet southern oysters on your holiday menu, the hardest part after you find them may be shucking them.

Follow these instructions to properly shuck an oyster.

The first trick is to pick the right oyster. Fresh oysters have a tightly closed hard shell that is teardrop shaped. If you pick your own oysters, look for oysters with a tiny hole near where the top and bottom shell meet. Then open the oyster using an oyster knife by placing the tip of the knife in the hinge that connects the oyster shell, gently wiggle, and then twist the knife until you hear a pop.

Then, enjoy.

H/T Bridget Shirvell