You may adhere to the old adage, “only eat oysters during a month containing the letter ‘r.’” (It’s basically a way of remembering not to eat oysters from May to August.) But why should we avoid those warm-weathered months? Well, the saying made a bit more sense when oysters were harvested from the wild inside of raised. A few reasons for this: Higher red tide levels in the summer since bacteria tends to enjoy warm waters. (Hey, who doesn’t?) Also, oysters spawn during those months, shooting their sperm and eggs out into the water. During this lovely transition, the oysters tend to get a little soft, a little thin, and a little smelly.
So, it’s best to avoid the oysters in the summer then? Actually, no!
Donald Merritt, an aquaculturist at the Horn Point Oyster Hatchery told The New York Times:
Ahh, what a relief.
Modern-day farming and strict regulations have changed the name of the game.
So, you have them to thank for your year-round indulgence. It’s mandatory for all oysters to go straight from the water into some serious refrigeration. They must also stay there until they are ready to be served. Only then do the cold, salty delights hit your plate.
There are even oysters that are specifically bred to not-breed.
Yep, as in sterile. So y’know, they avoid that whole business of releasing the contents of their gonads, thinning out, and becoming less delicious. Is there anything oyster farmers haven’t thought of? (Fun fact: There’s a plan to restore one billion oysters back to the New York Harbors by 2020. The name is sorta what you expect: The Billion Oyster Project.)
So, go ahead. Kick back, toss ‘em back, and relax. What would the summer be like without the cold, slurpy goodness of our briny shelled friends?