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How To Choose the Best Oysters for Your Table

Having a background in seafood I get the occasional calls from friends asking, “where could/should I buy some oysters?”  Well, I am always excited to direct folks to local businesses to purchase their seafood. Oysters offer a salty and satisfying addition to any dinner table. You can serve oysters in a variety of ways; the possibilities are only limited by your imagination and skill. The way many folks enjoy their oysters is…raw. A raw salty oyster on a cracker with a dab of hot sauce is the recipe of happiness for many. You could serve up little pieces of buttery garlic heaven in a chargrilled half-shell or the classic fried. However you choose to enjoy your oysters it’s important to note that buying fresh oysters will make an impact on your dining experience.

To give us some insight on choosing the best oysters I interviewed Jim Gunkel. Mr. Gunkel is the Business Manager at Quality Poultry and Seafood. Quality has been a pillar of the community in Biloxi since 1947. They supply a variety of fresh and frozen seafood and convenient take and bake items, a homemade taste for you to enjoy around your dinner table (if you have not had the seafood chowder please do yourself a favor and get some immediately, trust me friends it’s amazing). You will also find friendly faces and delicious lunch specials for your midday cravings at Rosetti’s Café.

According to Mr. Gunkel (pictured above), these are the best practices for purchasing oysters:

What to look for when purchasing oysters? 

If buying in-shell, make sure the oysters are closed tightly, gapping oysters could be a sign of dead oysters.

The oysters should be displayed on ice, not submerged in ice water. Submerging in ice water could kill the oysters.

Look for a tag associated with the displayed oysters as this lets you know the harvest dates. Live oysters have a 14-day shelf-life after harvested. If you are planning to not use your oysters for several days, keep that in mind.

Lastly, if you are purchasing shucked oysters check the labeling for sell-by dates or dates shucked. Shucked products have a 17-day shelf-life.

Where should I purchase my oysters? 

You want to make sure you are purchasing either from a licensed harvester or a licensed seafood dealer. Licensed seafood dealers are inspected by authorities to ensure the oysters are being handled in a sanitary environment and have all the necessary paperwork to pinpoint the original harvest location of the oysters. Both components are vital in producing an oyster with quality and safety in mind. Quality Poultry and Seafood is a certified oyster processor meaning we can purchase from harvesters and sell directly to the consumer, as such we are inspected for compliance with both sanitation and food safety system record keeping requirements.

What do you wish consumers knew?

I wish more consumers knew about individual quick freeze (IQF) oysters. These oysters are processed to increase safety. They are placed in 12 count trays then exposed to -80°F. The process has gone through rigorous lab testing to prove that it increases the safety of oysters. You can purchase a tray or box of these IQF oysters in our retail shop.

Your #1 advice to consumers

Don’t be afraid to ask questions. When you are purchasing your oysters ask about the harvest location, the harvest date, or the best-if used by dates. Ask about recipes, and how best to cook your purchase. Our staff at Quality Poultry and Seafood are trained to assist you in your purchasing and want to address questions related to your seafood.

So friends, if you find yourself wondering “where could/should I buy some oysters?” remember to use these tips and buy local.

If you would like to purchase from Quality Poultry and Seafood, they are located at 895 Division Street Biloxi, MS 39530. If you would like more information, please visit their site at https://www.facebook.com/QualityBiloxi/.

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Written by Jessica Rankin

I am a married mother of two rambunctious boys. For over a decade I worked in Marine Resources as a Fisheries Biologist and recently changed career directions to follow my dream of owning my own business. I am now the Owner of The Safe Food Culture LLC a consulting business specializing in food safety regulatory and training. It’s my goal to support businesses in creating cultures rooted in safe food practices. For more information please visit: www.thesafefoodculture.com

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