Oysters space exotic, bizarre, sexy, provocative. No matter exactly how you feel around them, yes sir a an excellent chance lock compel you come ask a inquiry or two.

I nothing know around you guys, however I Google a the majority of weird stuff. Sometimes, a simple answer comes up immediately. Other times, not so much. I believed it can be valuable to carry out some simple (and caveated) answers to every one of your most wondered-about oyster queries. So when the following time when someone asks around oysters, you can drop part impressive knowledge on them.

You are watching: What is the green stuff in oysters

Oh, and also don’t forget the basics. It is what the Oyster 101 is below for!

Disclaimer: a couple of mightbe a small “TMI” because that the casual oyster eater,so uhhh please review with caution. Ignorance deserve to be bliss!


What perform oysters eat?

Do oysters poop?

Are oysters yes, really aphrodisiacs?

Why is my oyster green?

Are oysters quiet alive once I eat them?

Do oysters feeling pain?

Is it safe to eat oysters during months without the letter R?

How have the right to you call if an oyster has actually gone bad?

There’s a small crab in my oyster… is that normal??

There’s a creepy-looking worm in mine oyster… is the normal??

Can friend recycle oyster shells?


What do oysters eat?


Oysters eatphytoplanktonor little bits of birds suspended in the water. Theyarefilter feeders, which way that they acquire their food byfiltering water in and over their gills. Adult Virginica oysters have the right to filter as much as 50 gallons the water per day. Periodically they’re described as bottom feeders ordetritivores, however don’t turn your nose up in ~ them since of that.

To demonstrate their fascinating ability, below isa time-lapse of oysters in filtering action.


THE entirety TRUTH

So now you’re more than likely thinking… if oysters are equal chance eaters, and they’re in water that’s complete of “nutrients,” thennnn aren’t we simply all eating crap?

Well, the is why friend still can’t order new York harbor oysters ideal now, and additionally why us seriously need toprotect our watersfrom ending up being even much more mucked up. The Clean Water Act has really aided improve water top quality in new York Harbor and also elsewhere in the U.S., however we’ve still obtained a long method to go.

Oysters space voracious vegetarians, but fairly picky around what castle nosh on. In spite of the lack of a brain, oysters “know” what castle can and also cannot digest.Bob Rheault, executive Director the the East coastline Shellfish Growers Associationelaborates, “Even together a dust-speck size larvae they execute this. The oyster kinds identically-sized algal corpuscle (say Isochrysis and also Chlorella) through 90% efficiency, even when combined with a soup of special silt. The Isochrysis goes into the gut and the Chlorella and silt goes into the pseudofeces (rendering it bright green!). I have done this through radiotracers and also the degree of performance is remarkable. That is one reason why the American oyster is so adaptable and can endure in high silt loaded waters while numerous other organisms struggle and also suffocate through fouled gills.”

WHAT I want TO uncover OUT

Knowing thatoysters taste like where castle from—everything in the atmosphere has an impact—my continuing question is justhowdo specific algaes or water compositionaffectthe taste, and also is over there a science-based way to measure up it? If you’re working on this type of research, please get in touch with me!!

Do oysters poop?

THE simple TRUTH

Yes, correct they do. Oystersexpel bothrealpoop ANDpseudofeces, which room particles that non-food points in your food.

THE “YOU ASKED because that IT” TRUTH

SeeErin Byers Murray, author of “Shucked:Life top top a brand-new England Oyster Farm,”blog post about it.


When girlfriend Google “oysters” and also “poop” together, the conversation bring away on a depressingly misinformed, ignorant, fear form. Some particularly one-sided, skewed posts by relatively prominent publicationsaren’t helping the cause. I mean, deserve to someone just register oysterpoop.com and clear the air about the whole subject the oysters and also foodborne illness? that happens, yet it no happen almost as lot as it does with various other stuff we eat. I just don’t understand why the same people who cringe in ~ raw oysters room happily scarfing under mysterymeat from sketchy rapid food joints.


Are oysters aphrodisiacs?


Probably not. Over there is limited scientific proof that supports this claim, but what we absence in science-based data, we people love to fill in v anecdotal truth! Basically, if eat a dozen oysters gain you in the mood, climate just call it a win.

How go oysters get such one amorous reputation? reprimand the Romans, Casanova (who claimed to eat 50 oysters for breakfast every day and also swore they to be the reason for his world-famous libido), King Henry the IV, and also cliché oyster marketing.

Oysters perform contain a quite high lot of zinc and other an excellent nutrients (vitamin B12, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, vitamins C, D, and also E, iron, magnesium, and also selenium), i m sorry are essential in reproductive development and all at once health. A study released in 2005 found two amino acids, D-aspartic acid (D-Asp) and also N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA), in shellfish, favor oysters, the were shown—at least in animals—to boost testosterone production. So there is that.

But to cite WebMD’s great post about aphrodisiacs, “No food has been scientifically proven to wake up the human being sex organs. However foods and also the action of eating deserve to suggest sex to the mind, which subsequently can assist stimulate desire in the body.”


Many of us more than likely unknowingly was introduced to the term aphrodisiac in grade institution while researching Greek mythology. Words is acquired from Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of sex-related love and beauty. Sidebar: the Greek indigenous aphros way “foam,” and also Hesiod relates in his Theogony that Aphrodite was born from the white foam created by the severed genitals of Uranus (Heaven), after his kid Cronus threw them right into the sea. Lovely.


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Why is mine oyster green?


If girlfriend come throughout an oyster through green-tinted gills, like the ones as presented above, consider yourself lucky.The greenish color comes from Haslea ostrearia, a form of microalgaethat the oysters room eating.It’s no harmful come eat an oyster choose this, and also in fact, that a novelty thatis highly sought after. In France, theFine de Claire Verte oyster isconsidered to it is in a delicacyand command a greater price than its “blanc” counterparts.You can alsofind castle in USat random, but more frequently in the winter when the blue diatoms are more abundant.


Oysters with environment-friendly gills tend to it is in hyped up as an “ultra-rare specialty”and marked up in price accordingly. Don’t loss for it.

WHY A environment-friendly OYSTER really INTRIGUES ME

According come aresearch studypublished in might 2014, scientists have proposed the the blue-green pigment discovered in Haslea algae, recognized asmarennine, has been uncovered to have powerful antioxidant, antibacterial and antiviral properties. Possibly the eco-friendly oyster is ours super sexy superfood?


Are oysters tho alive as soon as I eat them?


You don’t desire toeat a dead oyster, raw. Ideally, oysters should be preserved alive rightup till the moment just prior to consumption. The heart is right next to the bottom adductor muscle, therefore in most cases, separating the meat indigenous the shell kills it.

That said, eat dead oysters no necessarily going to make you sick. However from the minute anything dies, it begins to decompose. A few hours no going to do anything. A couple of days? Eh, okay pass.


A living, unshucked oyster will be fully closed up, like a rock. Can’t reference it because that working difficult to avoid ending up being your dinner. If the bill of the oyster gapes open and also doesn’t close v a couple of taps, it’s more than likely dead (or it might be yes, really cold and sleepy… so offer it a minute if you simply pulled them the end of the fridge). If girlfriend bought a bag of freshly harvested oysters and some room dead, they can still be cooked and enjoyed. Simply throw them on thegrillorfry castle up. Masterful shuckers will certainly toss the end the dead people long before they reach her platter. Sometimes, I will certainly poke in ~ the external edges that the mantle v a fork tong to view just exactly how “lively”they tho are.

Some oyster nerds at company Insider to be fascinated by this and also decided to develop a video:

Random trivia: the French take top quality assurance come the following level by leave the bottom adductor muscle attached. This enables you to suffer the freshest, most alive oyster as possible… yet prepared to carry out some job-related (and obtain silently judged ~ above it).

Do oysters feel pain?


It’s tho up for debate. We don’t really know.Somesaynowhile rather sayyes. Native an anatomical standpoint, oysters execute not have actually a mind or a centralnervous system,so that is not most likely that they would experience the human being inthe same means that other pets do. That said, the is unclear even if it is or no you need a mind in order to “feel” or procedure pain.

I request Guinness civilization Record Oyster Shucker and also restaurateurPatrick McMurrayfor his thoughts.“My belief—as ns am no a scientist—is that oysters feel pain as much as plants feel pain. Pain is a regarded sense to us. Oysters carry out not have sensory tardy or capacity to sense. Oysters react— close when touched, use cilia to relocate food particles etc. Part plants reaction the same way—flowers open and also close, Venus Flytrap per se.”


This concern seems come be at the crux of another question: “Are oysters ok for vegans come eat?” I’m not a vegan, so ns don’t really have actually an opinion on this. However I really appreciate the dual-sided debate that theUnnatural Veganbrings to the table.

Is it safe to eat oysters during months there is no the letter R?


Yes, the absolutely is safe to eat raw oysters throughout months there is no the letter “r” (e.g., May, June, July, August). If she in Australia and brand-new Zealand, you’re more than likely thinking that’s once oysters are best!!!

So wherein did this idea come from?

Generally, many oyster gurus attribute this adage back to a time before contemporary oyster farming technology, when the repopulation that oysters solely depended upon oysters in the wild. In the north hemisphere, oysters spent lot of their energy reproducing during the r-less, summer months. During that time, that was best for harvesters to leave the the oysters alone come reseed the beds.


Some articles, like this brand-new York times piece, credits william Butler, one English medical professional to King James I, with stating, “The oyster is unseasonable and unwholesome in every months that have not the letter R in your name,” in 1599. But according to a 2017 new York time article, the quote is additionally credited to Henry Buttes in an 1599 English cookbook, Dyets Drie Dinner. Luckily because that you and also me, Nigel Moore, one intrepid oyster enthusiast / history buff, created an comprehensive blog post about this entirety thing.


So currently you recognize that the R-month ascendancy is the end of date and also out the touch through the realities that the oyster sector today. Here are the 2 R rules that i follow: Refrigeration and also Regulation.

Refrigeration: don’t eat oysters that haven’t been maintained cold. The FDA recommends maintaining live shellfish listed below 40 levels F, specifically in summer months once the risk of vibrio expansion in the water is higher.

Regulation: Don’t eat random oysters the you find on the beach, unless if it’s from a designated recreational shellfish harvest zone. Also, don’t buy oysters from civilization or places without proper documentation. To be extra conservative, an initial check to check out if the company’s surname is detailed on the FDA’s federal government Certified Shellfish Shippers List.

How deserve to you call if an oyster has actually gone bad?


Have you guys heard that theegg test(good egg sink, poor eggs float)? i wish there were something as straightforward as the to gauge the high quality of one oyster. There is no straightforwardway to tell, yet you have the right to train your senses to choose up red flags.I asked mine favoriteSF Oyster Nerd, Greg Babinecz to take a cracked at this one in a couple of sentences. Greg, true come his oyster-nerdy-nature, couldn’t aid but submit a comprehensive perspective top top the matter.


If the open and does not close come the touch, throw it away*.

If that smells stronglysulfuric or rotten, throw it away.

If the is very dry and also has no juiciness come it, litter it away*.

*or compost.

GREG’S complete TAKE ~ above THE MATTER

Smell:Anything contempt afoul to your inherent sense that what smells right, I would say is best to avoid. There room oysters the are inherently a tiny “funky,” and are prized as such. But anything that strongly smells the rotten eggs, petrol, or fish tank gravel, just light a match and also toss it in the trash (outdoor trash, preferably). Part oysters will certainly have distinctive “low tide” or metallic smells and are good, however those room rare and also if you seeking those out, you’re probably not a novice shucker.

Look:A great oyster watch plump, juicy, and also has a insight sheen to it. It simply looks fresh. Quite regularly you’ll open up an oyster and it will have actually a dried out, Jackson Pollock-esque splatter look to it. If castle still odor okay, they no necessarily bad, they simply aren’t good. Finest use them for fried or BBQed oysters, or just discard.

Taste:Several oysters i have shucked have actually passed the previous two tests, yet then simply taste choose they’re spoiled. It will look great, odor fine, however upon consumption, taste terrible. And also there is a discernible difference in between a strongly flavored oyster and also a negative one. Copper, musky, and even low tide spices don’t average it’s bad. A an extremely noticeable absence of salinity and also a sulfuric-gaseous pop when bitten and you’ll automatically know that bad. These rogue goblin oysters room the bane of numerous shuckers around the world.

Lastly, covering inspection:This have to come first, yet not without understanding smell and also look. A good rule for any bivalve is the if its covering is cracked, has actually holes, or is open and will no close come the touch, it’s best to prevent (mussels and scallops are sort of an exception). An open bill that will certainly not close come the touch usually shows the oyster is dead. Every oysters have to be alive right before consumption, and eating a dead one have the right to be dangerous (see #4). Even if that smells and also looks fine, yet was open, I’d say ideal to avoid. I’ve definitely gambled top top some open up bivalves before and also been okay, however it’s finest to play the safe. However hey, it’s her stomach and also your dice to roll.

There’s a tiny crab in my oyster… is that normal??


“Sure that normal; it’s referred to as apea craband stays her whole life inside the oyster. The crab doesn’t hurt the oyster and also it won’t hurt you to eat both. In fact it’s an excellent luck come eat the pea crab. Enjoy!” it is reassurance fromChris Ludford, grower ofPleasure home Oystersand full-time fire boat captain for Virginia Beach.

If girlfriend shuck your very own oysters, you’ll probably encounter one or two.Raw bar shuckerswill most likely remove them because that you before you even see them.


Not much. Salty like the sea, and also the structure is favor kind of choose alfalfa sprouts. If eating them alive renders you squeamish, then pan fry them up v a dash the Old Bay.

ARE lock IN every OYSTERS?

In mine experience, pea crabs space most common in Easternoysters from brackish water. In fact, I only recall seeing them inoysters from the lengthy Island Sound and also inlets follow me the Chesapeake Bay. The doesn’t average they’re not in other places though! (I once discovered a pea crab in an ultra-briny north Carolina oyster.)

Random fact: male pea crabs will move from oyster come oyster to perform “house calls,” when the ladies stay put.

There’s a creepy spring worm in mine oyster… is that normal??


Every time ns hang out witha girlfriend of mine fromLA (who’s no an oyster fan, but we gain along anyway), that never stops working to phone call his story about that one time once he encountered amassive, horrendously big worm in his oyster, “like that wasDuneor something.” it’s a mental visual and also pretty unappetizing. Fortunately, it’s no abnormal or alien. That said,I don’t take it photos that oyster worms so ns sharing aphoto from theEastern Shoreto aid relax friend instead.

If girlfriend don’t desire to take it my word for it, here’s oyster farmerMatt GreggofForty phibìc Oyster Farms, who has encounteredhisfairshareofweirdness, top top the subject: “Oysters deserve to be the perfect hold for countless tiny naval invertebrates, none of which, to my expertise are harmful to humans. Oysters that flourish in muddy and also lower salinity environments tend to harbor an organism dubbed abloodworm. If you’re squeamish (most oyster eaters room not), stick to ocean-grown oysters. Bloodworms can’t endure those conditions.”

Can you recycle oyster shells?


In most cases approximately the country, the shells that weleave behindat theraw bargo straight into the garbage, which is important a cursed shame. Oyster shells can be recycled and also repurposed because that a variety of things together aschicken feeding booster,garden fertilizer,wedding decor, and most notably, as theperfectsubstrate for infant oysters to flourish on. Unfortunately,running a shell collection regimen islogistically challengingand prettyexpensive. The chance cost?One seaside villagein Chinahas put a reclaimed value of about $3200 USD every ton of covering (for fertilizer and construction material.) that number would definitely be higherif you thought about its restorative value back into our environment.


The symbiotic relationship in between atraditional oyster planterand theoyster shucking housecreates a closed loop system. The shells return to the oyster farmer together the base because that the following crop. However demand is starting to waver in favor ofhalf shell consumption, which method we’re still running on a national shell deficit.

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WHAT i’m HOPING THERE will certainly BE much more OF

Oyster shell collection and oyster repair initiatives have actually been building momentum about the country, such as along the Chesapeake and also the Gulf. I’m personally rooting for NYC’s own oyster repair & education program.Pete Malinowski, executive Director ofBillion Oyster job explains:

“The vast majority of oyster shells generated in new York City’s restaurants are packed into plastic bags and also driven come points southern to be landfilled. At exchange rate Oyster Project, we require oyster shells for our restoration projects and work difficult to recuperate as plenty of as we deserve to from restaurants. Right now, we space collecting shells native 45 restaurants 4 days per week. We average overone ton of shell per dayand space on monitor to collect 210 loads this year. The shells invest one year curing in ~ the NRG Arthur death Power tree in Staten Island. When cured, we location the shells in tanks with oyster larvae. The larvae collection on the shells creating the clusters of oysters we usage for reef building.”