Are Oysters in Season?

The question of whether oysters are “in season” or not requires a rather long answer.

We’ll try and keep it as short as possible!

Simply stated there is no such thing as an oyster season to the extent that there is not a time of year when fresh oysters are unavailable as is the case with something like Florida Stone Crabs which have a CLOSED season.

This said it is possible that on almost any day of the year oysters from one or another area may be CLOSED TO HARVEST. The apparent contradiction arises because while Stone Crab season is based on a calendar date ( October 15th is the yearly opening date. ) oyster harvesting is controlled by a combination of calendar date closures and closures due to water conditions.

As it now stands oyster beds in the US are carefully monitored by various governmental health agencies to assure that no harvesting takes place when water quality standards are not sufficiently good to where the oysters are unsafe safe to eat raw.

Generally closures are triggered by rain events in or upriver from an oyster harvesting area. This is because it is well understood by health officials that lower salinities associated with an influx of freshwater often lead to increased bacteria counts that can lead to an increased chance of someone eating raw oysters becoming ill.

Typically areas closed for this reason are reopened by the public health agencies once testing of the waters to assure safety is done.

The takeaway from the foregoing is that so long as oysters are harvested from an open and approved area, regardless of the time of year, they have been judged safe.

But…and this is a BIG but…being safe and being good are not the same thing. Let’s face it, if an oyster does not have a good hint of salt to it it’s not really worth eating…and it’s even better if it has a good bit of “fat” to it.

And this is where things get really confusing because the best “season” to find oysters with a combination of “salt & fat” is in the late fall through early spring, which of course corresponds to the traditional time when oysters are in big demand.

The point is that there is two consideration as to oysters, safety and quality…and they are not the same. Safe can taste bad and what tastes bad ( bland is the usual description ) can be safe.

You, as an informed consumer need to know the difference and buy accordingly. Know too that we will not sell oysters unless they come from an approved oyster house and that you are very welcome to taste the oysters we have to be sure their flavor is to your liking. We’re oyster lovers ourselves so we understand.

And that is about as concise as we can keep it…