How long do oysters last? Tips to keep them fresh longer.

Loved by romantics in the hope of its aphrodisiac effect, there is a lot to this bivalve mollusk. Do you worry about eating oysters? The truth is there have been more recalls on butter, peanut butter, and eggs than there have even been on oysters. If you love seafood, there has never been a better time to try oysters. Do they last longer than you think?

Did you know that oysters contain 9 calories? They are a great source of protein and contain a lot of zinc which can be behind male vitality!

This article will explore oysters, how long you can keep them at home, and the best ways to keep them fresh. We answer frequently asked questions so you can enjoy this food as it should.

Let’s dive in.

Do Oysters expire?

Yes, they do, but in most cases, not as fast as you would have first thought. These mollusks are hardier than you think, and with the correct information from your fresh seafood outlet, you can keep otters in the fridge for 5 to 7 days, and they will be perfect.

When you buy oysters, it is essential to know the harvesting date of the mollusks. Any good seafood outlet or an oyster farmer should be able to give you an accurate date when the oysters were harvested.

If the oysters have been harvested and sitting out for three days, don’t buy them, they have been out of their natural environment for too long, and you may only be able to keep them for a day or two at max.

It goes without saying that newly harvested oysters will taste much better than oysters that have been sitting around for a day or two.

You will need to inspect the oysters. The oyster is dead if you see an open shell that doesn’t close when you touch it. Discard the shell immediately. When you buy oysters, they will likely come supplied in a net, which is an excellent way to keep them in your fridge.

If you have removed the oysters from the net, it’s okay. You can wash them under a cold-flowing faucet and remove any loose transport debris and bits of oysters shell. At this time, if you notice any funky smells from the oysters, throw them out.

Oysters should smell fresh, a bit like the ocean. Oysters don’t smell fishy, and if yours do, they are not fit for consumption.

Do oysters need to be refrigerated?

Yes. The best way to store oysters in the fridge is to find a tray. A baking tray will suffice, and place the oysters on the tray. You will need to cover the oysters. Cover the oysters with a damp towel or damp newspaper. The oysters must be kept damp for them to survive. If an oyster dries out, it will die pretty quickly. The fridge at 40°F is an ideal temperature for the oysters. They like cold water environments.

Do oysters have to be covered or uncovered in the fridge?

Yes, your fridge is a relatively dry environment, and oysters would dry out if just placed in the fridge without a cover, prematurely killing them.

Oysters should be covered with a damp towel or damp newspaper. Keep an eye on how damp it is. You may need to refresh them after a couple of days.

You should note that oysters stored in a fridge where there are potentially strong odors, say from chopped onion, can be tainted by the strong odors absorbing some of the flavor, which is not ideal.

To shuck or not to shuck?

What’s the right time to shuck an oyster? Shucking oysters need a little experience, but the best time to shuck oysters is just before they are used. Shucked oysters can be stored in the fridge for 5 days, and un-shucked oysters will last an additional two days. It’s not much, but two days extra life is better than nothing.

Storing shucked oysters will require a different technique, not complicated, just different. Store your shucked oyster on a bed of crushed ice in an airtight container. Shucked oysters will benefit from the slightly colder fridge, so turn down the thermostat to 35 to 38℉ for the shucked oysters to retain their freshness.

Do oysters go bad if left out?

Yes, the oyster left out on the ice and covered with Glad wrap will go bad if left out. Oysters and other perishable foods go bad when left out for two hours or more. The maximum you can leave an oyster is two hours; even then, it will be questionable if it should be eaten.

It’s nothing to do with the delicate flesh of the mollusk. It’s the bacteria in the air that contaminates the oysters while they are sitting in the food danger zone, which is a temperature of 40 to 140°F.

Between these temperatures, bacteria growth accelerates exponentially, making the food unsafe to eat, according to USDA scientists.

If you have oysters sitting out for two hours or more, throw them in the garbage or risk food poisoning.

Do unopened oysters go bad?

Yes, Unopened oysters have a short shelf life, 7 days maximum in the fridge. You can tell if unopened oysters are bad. They will smell fishy and worse.

Even if you feel the oysters are still in good shape, it’s advisable to discard them after a week in the fridge. The meat is delicate and can spoil quickly.

How long do oysters last in the fridge?

Fresh unopened

Assuming the oysters have been freshly harvested, the shelf life in the fridge is going to be  7 days. The oysters should be stored on a tray that prevents drips from any moisture the oysters may release while being stored.

The oyster should be covered with a damp towel to keep the oysters moist. A damp newspaper will also work well. 

The fridge temperature should be 40℉ or a degree or two below for optimum storage of up to 7 days.

Shucked oysters

Once the oysters have been shucked, you can expect a shelf life of 5 days. However, they will need to be stored in an airtight container with crushed ice in the base.

Shucked oysters should be kept cooler if possible, such as at the back of the fridge, which is the coldest area and less affected by temperature fluctuation from the door continually opening and closing.

The ideal temperature for shucked oysters is 35 to 38℉ for optimum shelf life.

Cooked oysters

Cooked oysters have a shelf life of 4 days in the fridge and should be kept in an airtight container at 40℉.

Do frozen oysters go bad?

If the oysters are fresh and have been harvested in the last couple of days, oysters freeze wonderfully. You can freeze live oysters (they need to be live ) when placed in the freezer. You could store them in batches in Ziploc bags for portion control.

Fresh oysters have a shelf life of 3 months if constantly stored at 0℉ or below.

Shucked oysters can also be frozen, but the process differs from un-shucked oysters.

Remove the oyster from the shell entirely and rinse under cold water from the faucet. This will remove sand particles. Place the oysters in a Ziploc bag and freeze.

Shucked oysters have a 12-month shelf life in the freezer.

Storing delicate foods in the freezer for extended periods can cause freezer burn. Freezer burn on oysters will render them inedible but not rotten.

How do you unfreeze oysters?

Slowly. Place the oysters on a baking tray or similar and place them in the fridge, don’t stack the oysters. Just use a single layer for even thawing.

Oysters in shells will pop the shells when thawing, and they are entirely safe to eat if you wish. You can flip the shell lid off to help the thawing process.

How do you eat fresh frozen oysters?

Some say they are acceptable to be slurped from their shell-like fresh oysters, while others say they cannot be served as fresh as there is an increased likelihood of bacterial load and food poisoning.

You can place thawed oysters on the grill at 450℉, cook for 10 minutes, add your favorite sauce, and eat this way.

Do frozen oysters taste good?

Yes, but they may taste different from super fresh oysters. They have been preserved perfectly in the freezer for months, but when water turns to ice, the crystals cut into the oyster flesh, making it less firm and seem mushy.

The flavor may also change from a fresh ocean flavor to a slightly fishy flavor profile. They are safe to eat, but it may be a tough sell if you want to slurp them with friends.

Cooking the oysters in casseroles or chowders is the perfect way to consume these oysters.

Final thoughts

The key to keeping oysters in the fridge for a week is to know when they were harvested. If they are fresh out of the water, you can be confident that the oyster will last for as long as they are supposed to.

Freezing oysters is an excellent way to preserve the mollusks, but the texture may change as well as the flavor.

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