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Why buy oysters in months with the letter "r"?

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Oysters on the halfshell
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Question: Why buy oysters in months with the letter "r"?
Why is it advised to only buy oysters in months spelled with the letter "r"?
Answer: The old guideline was to eat oysters only in months that are spelled using the letter "R." This came from the days before refrigeration when oysters could quickly spoil.

However, there is another good reason to stick to fall, winter, and spring for your oyster forays, particularly when eating raw oysters. Oysters spawn in the warm summer months, usually May through August, although natural Gulfwater oysters can spawn year-round due to the warm waters. Spawning causes them to become fatty, watery, soft, and less flavorful instead of having the more desirable lean, firm texture and bright seafood flavor of those harvested in cooler, non-spawning months.

This being said, you can still find good oysters in spring and summer, usually imported from cooler waters or from farms.

A new genetic procedure being used by some commercial oyster farms renders farm-raised oysters sterile, so they don't spawn at all, thus making prime oysters available year-round.

More about Oysters:

Oyster Cooking Tips
Why only eat oysters in months with the letter "r"? FAQ
Oyster Varieties
Oyster Selection and Storage
Why do oysters grow pearls? FAQ
Oyster History
Oyster Measures and Equivalents
Oysters and Health
Oyster Recipes
Oyster Photo © 2008 Peggy Trowbridge Filippone, licensed to About.com, Inc.

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