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Many consider these delicacies.

The name oyster is used for a number of different groups of mollusks which grow for the most part in marine or brackish water. Inside a usually highly calcified shell is a soft body. The gills filter plankton from the water. Strong adductor muscles are used to hold the shell closed.
Oysters are highly prized as food, both raw and cooked.

The "true oysters" are the members of the family Ostreidae, and this includes the edible oysters, which mainly belong to the genera Ostrea, Crassostrea, Ostreola or Saccostrea. Examples are the Edible Oyster, Ostrea edulis (others are just as edible); the Olympia Oyster Ostreola conchaphila; Wellfleet oyster and the Eastern Oyster Crassostrea virginica.

Oysters can be eaten raw, or smoked, boiled, baked, fried, roasted, stewed, canned, pickled, steamed, or broiled (grilled). Preparation can be as simple as opening the shell, while cooking can be as spare as adding butter and/or salt, or can be very elaborate. Oysters are low in calories, one dozen raw oysters contain approximately 110 calories, rich in iron and high in calcium and vitamin A. Most people think they taste great.

Like all shellfish, oysters have an extremely short shelf-life, and should be fresh when consumed. Precautions should be respected when eating them (see below). Purists insist on eating oysters raw, with no dressing save perhaps lemon juice or vinegar. Raw oysters are regarded like wines in that they have complex flavors that vary greatly among varieties and regions: some taste sweet, others salty or with a mineral flavor, or even like melon. The texture is soft and fleshy, but crisp to the tooth.

Oysters are generally an expensive food in places where they aren't harvested, and often they are eaten only on special occasions, such as Christmas. Whether oysters are predominantly eaten raw or cooked is a matter of cultural preference. In the United States today, oysters are usually cooked before consumption; canned smoked oysters are widely available as preserves with a long shelf life. Raw oysters were, however, once a staple food along the East Coast of the US, and are still easily found in states bordering the ocean. Oystesr are nearly always eaten raw in France.
Fresh oysters must be alive just before consumption. There is a simple criterion: oysters must be tightly closed; oystrs that are already open are dead and must be discarded. To confirm if an open oyster is dead, tap the shell. A live oyster will close and is safe to eat. Opening oysters requires skill, for live oisters, outside of the water, shut themselves tightly with a powerful muscle. The generally used method for opening oysters is to use a special knife (called a shucking knife), with a short and thick blade, inserting the blade (with some moderate force and vibration if necessary) at the hinge in the rear of the shell, and sliding it upward to cut the adductor muscle (which holds the shell closed). Inexperienced cooks tend to apply excessive force, which may result in injuries if they slip; this is said to be a significant cause of domestic accidents in the Christmas season in France.

An alternative to opening raw oysters before consumption is to cook them in the shell – the heat kills the oystres and they open by themselves. Cooked osyters are savory and slightly sweet-tasting, and the varieties are mostly equivalent.

A piece of folk wisdom concerning oysters is that they are only safe to eat in months containing the letter 'r.' This is because oysters spawn in the warmer months, from roughly May to August. They are safe to eat at all times of the year, although their flavor when eaten raw can be somewhat watery and bland during spawning season. Oysters from the Gulf of Mexico spawn throughout the year, but are delicious cooked or raw.

Oysters are sometimes cited as an aphrodisiac. It is disputed whether this is true. If there is such an effect, it may be due to the soft, moist texture and appearance of the oystr; it may also be due to their high zinc content. Another joking theory states, "If you can get a woman to eat a raw oyster, you can get her to do anything!" referring to their visual nature, unappealing for some people.

See also
Blue Crab
• Soft Shell crab
• Queen crab ( snow, opilio)
King Crab
Dungeness Crab
Spiny Lobster

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This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License.
It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Oyster".

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